Luton Town MIGs
|Founding location||Luton, Bedfordshire|
|Criminal activities||Football hooliganism, riots and fighting|
The MIGs formed around 1982, taking over from the 'bovver boy' skinhead type hooligans of the 1970s, wearing designer clothes and trainers (hence Men In Gear) and becoming highly organised. Also, for the first time, becoming multi-racial and integrated from the various estates in the town, some received banning orders or prison sentences. They have had rivalries with firms from Watford and Queens Park Rangers.
The events on 13 March 1985 when Millwall visited Kenilworth Road to play Luton Town in an FA Cup quarter final match, whilst not instigated by the MIGs did have an effect on future matches between the two clubs. The hooligan element among Millwall's fans started to riot, and invaded the pitch. The game was halted after just 14 minutes of play and the referee took both teams off for 25 minutes. When he blew the final whistle, the pitch was invaded again. Over 700 seats were ripped out of the stands and the surrounding streets also saw more violence. The violence that ensued resulted in a ban on away fans by Luton Town, which in turn resulted in Luton's expulsion from the League Cup. The ban on away fans was lifted by Luton in the 1990–91 season. There was a later, infamous incident involving the MIGs and the Hells Angels in the late 1980s, when the former smashed up the George 2nd pub next to Luton bus station frequented by the latter. The incident happened just after the George replaced the Blockers as one of the main 'alternative' pubs.
Luton: Operation Spoonbill
March 1988 saw the arrest of 8 fans during dawn raids on 17 homes by police. The arrested were aged between 24 and 38 and were accused of belonging to a gang called the 'MIGS'. All were charged with Conspiracy to commit acts of disorder. Eventually all had the conspiracy charged dropped, though 5 were charged with lesser public order offences.
In March 2000, on the fifteenth anniversary of the Luton riot, a group calling themselves "MIGs 2000" were blamed for revenge attacks on Millwall fans when the two teams met at Kenilworth Road. Bedfordshire Police stated that they were aware, weeks before the match, of plans by MIGs 2000, to attack Millwall fans in retribution for the events of 1985. They were said to want revenge with the attitude of, "They've trashed our town once they're not doing it again."
The police launched a huge match day operation, bringing in 130 police officers as well as police horses, dogs and a helicopter. Ten people were arrested on the day of the match. Before the match two pubs where Millwall fans were drinking were attacked. About 30 MIG 2000 threw bottles at the Duke of Clarence in Upper George Street at about 1:30pm and tried to force their way into the pub to attack Millwall fans peacefully drinking inside. Glass doors were smashed and the manager ordered his staff out of the bar for their own safety. Police had to deal with a similar incident an hour later outside the Nelson Flagship pub in Dunstable Road when the Luton gang had doubled. Whilst Millwall fans had a fierce reputation, it was the local Luton hooligans who were entirely blamed for the violence and the Millwall fans were praised for their generally good behaviour.
Earlier that season, Luton fans were strongly criticised by the police when, during a home game against Cardiff City, they set fire to a Welsh flag in the wooden main stand which the police said could have sparked a serious disturbance, and caused a tragedy.
In November 2001, Luton hooligans left the train at Leicester and ambushed 30 members of Leicester City’s "Baby Squad" at the station. Police had to draw batons to break up the fight. The Mig Crew had exited the train on the way back from a League game at Mansfield Town. Luton Hooligans had earlier that day been involved in violent scenes at Field Mill resulting in eight arrests.
In 2001 it was reported that tensions were running high in Luton, a town with a 30,000 Muslim community accounting for 20% of the town's population. On 2 November, Asian shops and homes were warned by the police to be prepared for possible attacks over the weekend by members of the MIGs, described as being "a gang of white football hooligans who terrorised Luton Asians 10 years ago". A local Luton newspaper reported that the MIGs had met in the Nags Head Inn in Dunstable the previous Monday evening, 29 October, to draw up a "battle plan". The landlady of the pub denied any such meeting had taken place.
Twenty four Luton fans were arrested in September 2002 after violence at a Worthington Cup match against Watford at Vicarage Road on 10 September. Ten minutes before the game was due to start, rival fans fought running battles on the pitch after dozens of Luton fans had jumped over advertising hoardings and run onto the pitch. One fan was seen tearing up a corner flag and brandishing it like a weapon. The kick-off was delayed 15 minutes and riot police eventually restored order by forcing the fans back into their seats and blocking off the area behind the Vicarage Road goal. There had also been violence in Watford town centre before the match, with what was described as an "orchestrated" and "arranged" fight outside the Moon Under Water pub. The Football Association launched an investigation into the day's events, and when The Football League also announced that they would be launching an investigation, the two football authorities agreed to launch a joint investigation. Both clubs said they would ban for life any of their fans found to be involved.
Nearly a year later, in August 2003, at the start of the 2003–04 season, it was revealed that most MIG members had not attended any Luton Town matches since the match with Watford the previous season, with most of the 24 still awaiting trial. Bedfordshire Police had received money to help stamp out hooliganism, with £200,000 earmarked for an investigation into the fighting at the Watford match in the 2002–03 season and some going toward preventing opposing fans from causing trouble that season with Luton apparently being seen as an easy target, and Luton followers seen as an "easy touch" by other hooligan firms. In December 2003, ten Luton fans and four Watford fans were jailed at Luton Crown Court for between seven and fifteen months for their part in the fighting on the pitch at Vicarage Road the previous season. and a day later six Luton fans were jailed for between eight and fourteen months for their part in the fight at the Moon Under Water pub.
In November 2005, Police arrested 18 Luton hooligans after fighting broke out at the Black Horse, in Coventry Road as yobs battled each other both inside and outside the premises, using bar furniture as weapons. One local resident, who asked not to be named, said: "It was really bad. I saw one lad with his arm broken and his face smashed up. It's not very nice for the area."
In October 2007, Luton and Nottingham Forest hooligans clashed after a League One game in which two Forest hooligans required hospital treatment after violent clashes, one for a head injury. Police arrested five Luton hooligans for public order offences and one Forest hooligan for throwing a missile. In addition to the trouble at the game, ten Luton hooligans were banned from football matches in England and Wales for up to five years.
The Migs, it seems, were back in action in March 2008. The Southwark News reported on violent clashes between Millwall and Luton thugs near Rotherhithe New Road and Rotherhithe Old Road and also earlier in The Surrey Docks area. The running battles reached a climax at Whelan's public house with the Millwall group barricading themselves inside. Four arrests were reported.
Oxford v Luton September 2009 and arrests on the night as a result of “minor disorder before the match” involving mainly Luton hooligans.
Cambridge v Luton September 2009 and Police were forced to wear riot gear for protection after one officer suffered a cut to the hand as the situation spiralled out of control. Seven were arrested as Chief inspector Darren Alderson, who was in charge of the operation for Cambridgeshire police, said: "It was a good crowd for the club, but there was disorder between the fans of both clubs". The Luton fans were seen throwing missiles at the opposing Cambridge fans and police.
In March 2010 reports stated Hayes and Yeading wanted Luton to be promoted from the Conference - so they would not have to play them the following season. The historical rivalry between Luton Hooligans and QPR Hooligans almost reared its ugly face before, during and after a Conference clash. Sound Police tactics won the day and kept the violence under control.
On 4 May 2010 Luton hooligans stormed onto the Kenilworth Road pitch after losing 2-0 on aggregate in the play-off semi-finals to York City. This caused the York players to be taken up to the top of the away stand for safety, and to prevent the Luton hooligans from being able to attack them. This did not work as the Luton hooligans started throwing coins, bottles and other missiles at the York players and fans. Richard Brodie, a York striker, told the police that he was hit on the head with a pound coin after he was ushered back into safety. The Luton hooligans did not stop in the stadium as they rioted for hours after the match through the streets of Luton.
On 6 October 2012 alleged Mig Crew members were involved in violent scenes in Lincoln City centre prior to a Football Conference game resulting in 17 individuals appearing in court on public order charges.
In April 2015, the Migs were involved in violent clashes with Southend United hooligans outside Roots Hall resulting in two Southend fans requiring hospital treatment, one for a head injury.
In November 2015, there was trouble caused at an away match at Stevenage F.C..Luton hooligans were seen jumping over the away end barriers, onto the pitch and into the home end, where they started throwing punches at the home supporters as a Luton fan was being attacked in the home stand. Luton fans were also criticised for violent disorder outside the stadium after the match in retaliation to this.
Ex-MIG, Tommy Robinson (not to confused with Stephen Yaxley-Lennon the self-styled leader of the English Defence League, who took the football hooligan's name), has written two books about his experiences with the firm, Mig Down which charts his own personal 25-year career in football violence, and Mig Crew about the firm itself.
In November 2016 in recognition of over 25 years of existence the senior Mig Crew membership identified the need for a symbolic gesture marking the time the group had remained active. The fact that although many of the senior members were no longer active at Luton Town matches they were still loyal to the group and wanted to promote this loyalty. In keeping with the casual culture which valued high quality and exclusive clothing and accessories a poll was conducted that resulted in the creation of a unique tartan named 'Spoonbill 88'. The tartan would now be worn by both retired and current Mig Crew members. This first batch was delivered to the group membership in November 2016 and would be worn for the first time by those attending Luton Town versus Millwall on Tuesday 8 November 2016.
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