Review: Running with the Firm by James Bannon (3/5)

Thursday, 27 March 2014
""Of course I'm a f**king hooligan, you pr**k. I am a hooligan...there I've said it...I'm a hooligan. And, do you know why? Because that's my f**king job." In 1995, a film called I.D., about an ambitious young copper who was sent undercover to track down the "generals" of a football hooligan gang, achieved cult status for its sheer brutality and unsettling insight into the dark and often bloody side of the so-called beautiful game.The film was so shocking it was hard to believe the mindless events that took place could ever happen in the real world. Well, believe it now... Almost twenty years on, the man behind the film has explosively revealed that the script was largely a true story. That man, James Bannon, was the ambitious young copper. The football club was Millwall F.C., and the gang that he infiltrated was The Bushwackers, among the most brutal and fearless in English football. In Running with the Firm, Bannon shares his intense and dangerous journey into the underworld of football hooliganism where sickening levels of violence prevail over anything else. He introduces you to the hardest thugs from football’s most notorious gangs, tells all about the secret and almost comical police operations that were meant to bring them down, and, how once you’re on the inside, getting out from the mob proves to be the biggest mission of all. A disturbing but compelling read, this is the book that proves fact really is stranger than fiction."



I was excited to read this however upon finishing it I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I expected to. The best football hooligan book I have read is Scally by Andy Nicholls. This book however particularly interested me as it is told by a police officer rather than a hooligan and this police officer went undercover to try and infiltrate a gang of Millwall hooligans. It's also really a book of times gone by and a fantastic portrayal of football in itself. Older football fans today often remark about how different the game was 'back in the day' and that is definitely true here.

It was a good read. You don't need to be a football fan to enjoy the book and it isn't all doom and gloom and hooliganism there are some humorous elements and stories throughout. The author is also very honest throughout the book about his feelings and struggles with working undercover. Perhaps the film I.D. would be better for me and I will definitely be buying from Amazon in the near future. Having not watched the film or read much about this case before it did mean that all of the stories were 'new' to me and there was a gripping element to the book with me wanting to find out what was going to happen, and whether the cover of the police would be blown. At times it I forgot this was actually a factual book and not fiction.

I do reccommend this to football fans, or to people with an interest in football hooliganism. 

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy via NetGalley

You can purchase this book in hardback or on Kindle from Amazon

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