Combat 18. Hooligans, Nazis and Britain's History of Fascism

Essay, 2007

15 Pages, Grade: 2.0





History of Britain’s Fascism

Combat 18
Summer of violence
Combat 18 in Germany


Online sources


This essay will be on the phenomenon of hooliganism in England and its development from the day it has been discovered by the media.

When one thinks of a violent hooligan and his behaviour one often tends to associate it immediately with the behaviour of a brutal skinhead. What do a hooligan and a racist skinhead really have in common? Is there an urgent connection between them or is that just a wrong association which has developed in one’s mind during one’s childhood when one was not able to distinguish between these two kinds of brutal groups?

In order to find out whether racism is involved in football hooliganism I initially will try to spot what role National Socialism or Fascism played in the history of Britain but also in the last few years.

It is interesting to investigate whether Nazi-Germany’s archenemy England has National Socialist roots as well and if so, what impact such a phenomenon could have on everyday life and how successful it was. Were they pro or anti-German?

If there is still a far-right-wing I will analyze its structures and try to make out a possible relation between their organisations and hooligan firms.

Furthermore I will comment on the heavy riots in Oldham in the year 2001, which made the media call that part of the year “the summer of violence”. In this context I will try to analyze to what extent these violent excesses are to be related to football hooliganism or even to racism. Were these riots pure coincidence or had they been planned well in advance? To answer this question it is quite interesting to parse the reaction of the public authorities and to analyze how cooperative they were when it came to spotting the culprits.

Is there really a relation between hooligans and Nazis, who sometimes seem to be totally different? What does this connection base on?



Football hooliganism in England was recognised in the 1960´s and the government became aware of the fact that they had to find a solution to this problem because of the security of the fans. The declining number of spectators in the stadiums played a significant role as well. Even though the media started reporting on it from then on hooliganism had a longer history and started life in the in the late 19th century. The reason why the attention to it increased in the 1960´s was the fact that this phenomenon became stronger because the young men were confronted with an uncertainty about future and some kind of a moral panic started.

Now violence and terror lurk in the once-safe streets. The family no longer holds its proper place and parents have abandoned their responsibilities. In the classroom, where once the tidy scholars applied themselves diligently in their neat rows of desks, there is a carnival of disrespect.[1]

More and more young people were involved in crimes and violent actions. At the same time racial tensions emerged and several nationalist gangs caused disorder and chaos during football matches.[2]

Media like the “Daily Mail” did not defuse the situation by reporting on the Blacks being to be blamed for the escalation of this problem.[3] The Police even had to warn the inhabitants of unsafe areas by night or some of them also by day.

In Britain a serious discussion started and some experts were afraid that these developments to barbarization were not simply a phenomenon of a temporary nature but they were apprehensive of a change of the British way of life.[4]

A further relevant aspect could be the high unemployment rate which swelled to more than 13% in the 1980´s.[5]

Reasons: Why do hooligans act like they do?

Answering this question is not too easy, but there are several approaches to find out the origins of such a violent behaviour in order to prevent situations like militant riots before and after a football match.

The sociological point of view is that hooligans try to catapult themselves out of their everyday life of working, a life which consists of routine, monotony and sometimes senseless seeming work. They want to negate their identity and flee into a world of action, adventure and a world where they are somebody and get respected, not only by the opponents who fear them but also by the media and what is the most important factor by their peer group.[6]

Most hooligans are not satisfied with their lives and they always try to find some kind of change. They are not satisfied because most of them are unemployed or not content with the work they are doing. Many of them have never had real friendships or been related with a girl and therefore they get frustrated and start hating themselves and others and blame every misery on other people.

The fact that many hooligans have to deal with their adolescence does not make this problem easier and contributes to the “me against the world”-attitude. Since they have no or scanty contact with family members they need alternative helpers in form of a group. Within this group they feel understood and secure because of the fact that all members of this group have to cope with similar problems. They create a collective and the individuals suppress their own identity for the sake of a common bond and togetherness.

In order to prove and to strengthen this sense of community they get in fights with other hooligan groups or normal fans. They create with intent a situation where they are dependent on each other and lead themselves to a kind of a “community of destiny”. By this means the members grow together like soldiers who have to trust each other no matter what happens when they are fighting on the front line. Those who are able to do so get respected by the hooligan group and this creates a high degree of a mutual appreciation.

The Freudian point of view is that all human beings are controlled by two certain drives. On the one hand there is the “libido” which is a creative and life-producing instinct and on the other hand there is its opponent “thanatos” or the “death instinct” which strives to self-destruct the body. According to Freud there is an everlasting battle between pleasure and unpleasure.[7] When people act aggressively then the “thanatos” has gained the upper hand and the last chance to prevent it from self-destruction is to channel that violence to other objects or people.

Although it is clear that hooligans are brutal and violent they can be distinguished from the ordinary mob. Bohnsack says that the difference is the fact that real hooligans have fighting rules and a strong codex. Usually they do not harm normal fans so they prefer to meet the rivals on a meadow where they can riot.

Considering this aspect one can say that those fights, which are carried out, are some kind of way to make friends. Even if it sounds paradox, this is the way how hooligans connect, they meet, they fight and sometimes they become friends.

However, there are many hooligan groups who like to present themselves and try to earn respect from the media and the fans while they turn the stand into a fighting stage. These groups do not care about other people’s lives and are highly destructive. They like fighting just because of the fighting itself. To those kinds of hooligans it is not important who they are fighting against, it is the thrill they need, the adrenaline. Not seldom do they compare this experience with a sex act.

A hooligan expresses this feeling before the fights:

Darren Wells:

"It was the build up, just the crescendo just before it all went off, you know, just that feeling of butterflies in your stomach,"[8]

Furthermore many groups dispose of high spatial attachments and they want to show their resoluteness to the intruders defending their town or their country.[9] This sense can easily turn into nationalism and racial hatred.

Football and hooliganism is a predominantly male activity and hooligans like it the way it is.


[1] Geoffrey Pearson: Hooligan. A History of Respectable Fears. Eastbourne 1983. P. 3.

[2] Williams:

[3] Geoffrey Pearson: Hooligan. A History of Respectable Fears. Eastbourne 1983. P. 4.

[4] Geoffrey Pearson: Hooligan. A History of Respectable Fears. Eastbourne 1983. P. 5.

[5] James Obelkevich: Understanding post-war British society. Ney York 1994. P. 88.

[6] Bohnsack: Die Suche nach Gemeinsamkeit und die Gewalt der Gruppe. Hemsnach 1995. P. 25



[9] Williams:

Excerpt out of 15 pages


Combat 18. Hooligans, Nazis and Britain's History of Fascism
Technical University of Braunschweig
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hooligans, nazis, combat 18, fascism, uk, britain
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Mergim Bytyci (Author), 2007, Combat 18. Hooligans, Nazis and Britain's History of Fascism, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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