Football hooliganism is something has sadly at times dominated the headlines of UK sport. Dougie Brimson in The Crew makes it the basis of his debut novel. It is essentially the story of three characters; Billy Evans, ‘top boy’ in West Ham’s main firm, the Cockney Suicide Squad; Gary Fitchett, the leader of Birmingham City’s main mob, The Selector; and Detective Inspector Paul Jarvis of the National Football Intelligence Unit. Ostensibly, the plot concerns Billy Evan’s attempt to recruit a national firm to cause mayhem at an England international fixture in Italy.
Along the way, Gary Fitchett is nicked for pepper spraying a Chelsea boy and is pressured by DI Jarvis into informing on Billy and the boys. Little do they know that Billy has his own plans. The excursion to Italy is merely a cover for his ‘criminal’ activities. Billy has a lucrative sideline. You’ll have to read the book to find out the rest, but be assured it builds to a grand finale.
This book is well written and an enjoyable read. Because it is a novel, it shouldn’t ordinarily be judged by its plausibility some of which seems a little over the top. The main problem with The Crew then is that it reinforces images and stereotypes which are only partially true. Buy it and enjoy a bit of escapism but don’t use it to gain a better understanding on hooliganism.