Suicide Squad (hooligan firm)

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Suicide Squad
Founding location Burnley, Lancashire
Years active 1983–present
Territory Burnley
Ethnicity Mostly White British
Membership 80-110
Criminal activities Football hooliganism and fighting
Allies The SS

The Suicide Squad is a football hooligan firm linked to the English Premier League team, Burnley F.C.[1] The self-imposed title is derived from previous behaviour at away games where the single minded involvement in violence against overwhelming odds could be described as suicidal. The name became synonymous with the group during the early 1980s and many of the original members, now in their forties are well known to the police and have a string of convictions for violence.[2]

History[edit]

Out of the terrace wars of the 1980s emerged a gang known as the Suicide Squad in a period which also saw Burnley's fall from the old Division One to Division Four and the threat of non-league football. This meant that the calculated, disciplined, organised operation that struck fear into opposing fans clashed with just about every rival mob in the country and became world renowned as one of the fiercest and most dangerous in Britain.[3]

Although partially disbanded, a new more menacing group began to emerge. This group, considerably younger, named themselves the Burnley Youth. They would remain associated with the older hooligan group known as the Suicide Squad, but refused to abide by the rules of the game. This group were more determined and less affected by the police tactics, than their older colleagues. The police began to receive intelligence reports from members of the Suicide Squad who were genuinely concerned that their younger brethren were "out of control" and were travelling to away matches with weapons. The level of violence and the circumstances surrounding these incidents strongly supported these concerns.[2]

In November 2002, Burnley police and the football club jointly established Operation Fixture, a scheme aimed at tackling football hooliganism in and around the club's stadium, Turf Moor with more bans, more arrests and quicker convictions. The scheme also aimed to target racists, with the example of a Burnley fan having given a Nazi salute during a Worthington Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur F.C..[4]

On 7 December 2002, a 17-year-old Nottingham Forest F.C. fan was killed when Burnley fans attacked Nottingham Forest fans in Burnley town centre. Two days later, a 19-year-old Burnley fan, Andrew McNee, a member of the so-called Suicide Youth Squad[5] was arrested and charged with murder.[6] In July 2003, McNee was sentenced to seven years in youth custody after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He was also banned from football matches for ten years. When passing sentence, the trial judge commented that the attack had happened, "for absolutely no reason, other than he supported a different football team and had the temerity to visit a public house the defendant and others believed he should have kept away from"; adding that football hooliganism was a "scourge on the sport" and said the courts should make it clear that anyone involved in violence would face harsh sentences.[7] McNee was released from prison in 2006. Within weeks however, he was fined £200 after pleading guilty to breaching his ten-year football banning order. On 22 July 2006 police caught him outside Turf Moor when Burnley were playing Bolton Wanderers F.C.,[8] Burnleys first home game since McNee had been released from prison. ,[5]

In July 2007, one of the founding members of the Suicide Squad, Andrew Porter, who wrote a book about his exploits with the firm was coming to the end of a three-year ban from attending both England and domestic matches. However, Burnley police applied for a fresh banning order with the start of the new season only weeks away under Operation Fixture which had been introduced in 2002.[9]

In May 2009, another founder member of the Suicide Squad, Philip Holmes, was banned for a further three years from English & Welsh football grounds. The ban follows a steady stream of incidents since Holmes' original ban expired in February 2007, including being the central figure in games against Stoke City & Sheffield United in the 2008-9 season.[10]

The Suicide Squad featured in the television documentary series The Real Football Factories which was first shown on the Bravo Television channel.[11]

On 18 October 2009, following the first FA Premier League derby between Blackburn Rovers and Burnley, members of the Suicide Squad clashed at the Station public house in the Cherry Tree area of the town in a riot described by police officers as "like something out of Braveheart". 15 months later, 12 members of the Suicide Squad received prison sentences totalling 32 years along with lengthy banning orders. Andrew Porter, aged 44, was discovered to have organised the riot, receiving the heaviest sentence; a five-year prison sentence along with a 10-year banning order. Porter had written a book - Suicide Squad: The Inside Story of a Football Firm - about his experiences as a football hooligan.[12]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bradshaw, Caroline (2006-09-15). "Suicide Squad ban". Lancashire Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  2. ^ a b "Operation Fixture". Lancashire Constabulary. 2002. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  3. ^ Porter, Andrew (2005). Suicide Squad: The Inside Story of a Football Firm. Milo Books. ISBN 978-1-903854-46-4. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  4. ^ "Police back club on hooligans". BBC News. 2002-11-21. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  5. ^ a b "Killer fan breaks football ban". Lancashire Evening Telegraph. 2006-07-29. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  6. ^ "Man arrested after fan's death". BBC News. 2002-12-09. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  7. ^ "Hooligan jailed for killing rival fan". BBC News. 2003-07-14. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  8. ^ Gibbon, Gavin (2006-08-01). "Send our son’s killer back to prison - call". Lancashire Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  9. ^ "Banning order for former Suicide Squad hooligan". Lancashire Evening Telegraph. 2007-07-12. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  10. ^ "Former Suicide Squad hooligan banned for Burnley's Premier League campaign". Lancashire Telegraph. 2009-05-31. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  11. ^ | url = http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0825947/
  12. ^ [1]

Further reading[edit]

  • Porter, Andrew (2005). Suicide Squad: The Inside Story of a Football Firm, Milo Books, ISBN 978-1-903854-46-4