HomeNewsFaces Behind Football’s Dark Days: Photos Capture The One-Time Hooligans Of The...

Faces Behind Football’s Dark Days: Photos Capture The One-Time Hooligans Of The Beautiful Game

There was a time when English football witnessed a dark age, not due to the failure of their national side in major tournaments nor due to any lack of talent in their club leagues. This dark age was mainly about disruptive crowd behaviour in any league games.

Simon Harsent, travelled the length and breadth of England to document this age of British sporting history, Hooliganism.

Harsent captures defiant men, some with their shaven head, some with tattooed arms, the men who ruled and terrorised the terraces of English football.

In a feature by the Daily Mail, Harsent said his work is neither glorifying nor condemning these men, rather it is about people who have turned away from their former lives. He said that many have done things which they now regret and the portrait of these men is simply to document them.

‘Most of my portrait work is quite dark, especially my portraits of men. It really is just the way I shoot. I did want these to be striking portraits with an edge of intensity to them and as I always do when I shoot a portrait I do what feels natural on the day. These guys are strong and imposing people, to photograph them any other way would seem strange for me.’

Carlton Leach, formerly a member of West Ham's ICF, is one of a number of former hooligans who agreed to be photographed by Simon Hasent. (Photo courtesy: Daily Mail/Simon Hasent)
Carlton Leach, formerly a member of West Ham’s ICF, is one of a number of former hooligans who agreed to be photographed by Simon Harsent. (Photo courtesy: Daily Mail/Simon Harsent)
Carlton Leach, formerly a member of West Ham's ICF, is one of a number of former hooligans who agreed to be photographed by Simon Hasent. (Photo courtesy: Daily Mail/Simon Hasent)
Carlton Leach, formerly a member of West Ham’s ICF, is one of a number of former hooligans who agreed to be photographed by Simon Harsent. (Photo courtesy: Daily Mail/Simon Harsent)
Barrington Patterson, better known as One-Eyed Baz, from Birmingham City's Zulus
Barrington Patterson, better known as One-Eyed Baz, from Birmingham City’s Zulus
He said being part of a football gang was like being in a close-knit family
He said being part of a football gang was like being in a close-knit family
Ian Bailey of Hartlepool.
Ian Bailey of Hartlepool.
He took a role advising actors in the film Cass, which charted the life of renowned hooligan Cass Pennant
He took a role advising actors in the film Cass, which charted the life of renowned hooligan Cass Pennant
Colin Blaney, of the Manchester United's Red Army.
Colin Blaney, of the Manchester United’s Red Army.
He has since become the author of a number of football crime books
He has since become the author of a number of football crime books
Riaz Khan of Leicester City's Baby Squad.
Riaz Khan of Leicester City’s Baby Squad.
He later wrote a book called 'Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual' telling of his time as a hooligan
He later wrote a book called ‘Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual’ telling of his time as a hooligan
Ginger Bob, a former member of Millwall's F-Troop gang
Ginger Bob, a former member of Millwall’s F-Troop gang
He said: 'I still go to the bigger games, but I'm enjoying middle age, chilling out and looking after my grandchildren.'
He said: ‘I still go to the bigger games, but I’m enjoying middle age, chilling out and looking after my grandchildren.’
Gary Clarke, also known as Boatsy, of Nottingham Forest's Executive Crew.
Gary Clarke, also known as Boatsy, of Nottingham Forest’s Executive Crew.
He also wrote a memoir about his time in the club's firm
He also wrote a memoir about his time in the club’s firm
Now-famous former hooligan Cass Pennant, of West Ham ICF
Now-famous former hooligan Cass Pennant, of West Ham ICF
His life was the subject of a critically acclaimed film in 2008
His life was the subject of a critically acclaimed film in 2008

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