Return of Football Casuals

Last updated : 04 October 2009 By NOTW
A NOTW chilling investigation has found that rival firms of football thugs are organising bloody battles north and south of the border. And specialist police teams are now tracking the worst offenders in a bid to halt the bloodshed.

A senior officer told us: "Casuals never went away. Many of them are now second-time-around hooligans. "We're seeing married DADS getting tooled up and going out with the sole intention of causing trouble."

In August, we told how a Russian fan was knocked out by a flying brick during running battles in the centre of Glasgow between Celtic and Dinamo Moscow fans ahead of a Champions League qualifier at Parkhead.

And on Thursday, scores of hardened Austrian thugs squared up to Scots yobs before Rapid Vienna's hate-filled Europa Cup clash.

But our police insider revealed that Celtic are NOT seen as major players in the casuals league of shame. The hooliganism expert told us: "Celtic don't have an organised group of casuals - the club's REAL supporters turned on them a long time ago.

"But Rangers can muster a fair-sized firm, as can Hibs. And these guys are not just from Glasgow and Edinburgh but across the Central Belt and beyond.

"Aberdeen don't seem to have as many casuals as they did in the '80s, but Motherwell still have them, as do some of the smaller teams like Partick and Airdrie.

"And there is rivalry between groups from St Johnstone and Dundee United - meaning potential for violence in the Tayside derbies.

" Our insider said that up to 500 neds have so far been identified as linked to organised football violence. He added: "When you add to that the hangers-on who also get involved, the number goes up considerably. We're working to identify high- risk individuals involved."

Already this year there have been a series of violent clashes between football neds in Scotland and England. In BOLTON, a 50-strong Hibs crew - dubbed Capital City Service - battled with English casuals at a shopping centre in the Lancashire town ahead of a pre-season friendly in August.

Cops are still hunting the brawling thugs who terrorised shoppers and smashed store windows.

And a group of Rangers Inter City Firm casuals were collared in April as they headed by train for NEWCASTLE - where they'd planned to team up with Chelsea yobs for a pre-arranged fight with local Tyneside hooligans. Cops swooped and found one of the ICF leaders carrying a bag of drugs. He was arrested - and his fellow thugs were sent back to Scotland by British Transport Police (BTP).

Last year's UEFA Cup final riot in Manchester, which saw hundreds of Rangers casuals rampage through the city's streets, also reinforced the grim reputation of the ICF.

But our police source revealed that the mindless football yobs are just as interested in FASHION as fighting. He explained: "Brands such as Fila, Sergio Tachini, Stone Island, Evisu and Burberry are becoming more prevalent among travelling fans.

"And some groups even have their own favourite designers. "For instance, Dundee casuals tend to favour Burberry, while others opt for Stone Island, Prada or Evisu. Casuals can easily be spotted by the clothes they wear."

 BTP Chief Constable Andy Trotter said: "We know football hooliganism has never gone away. We have noticed a year-on- year increase in arrests across Scotland."

And BTP Constable Stephen Hughes added: "We know a minority of so-called supporters are more intent in engaging in disorder than watching football. "There is a free flow of intelligence and information between BTP and other forces. "We'll continue to use modern technology - including the net, CCTV, hand-held and body-mounted cameras - to ensure the majority of fans can travel to matches safely."