The Biggest Hooligan Clubs in English Football: FINAL Part 4


Click here for Part 1 of The Biggest Hooligan Clubs in English Football.

Click here for Part 2 of The Biggest Hooligan Clubs in English Football.

Click here for Part 3 of The Biggest Hooligan Clubs in English Football.

This is the final edition of The Biggest Hooligan Clubs in English Football, Part 4. This rounds out the top 10 biggest hooligan clubs in England. I've had a blast writing this series and understanding just how bad hooliganism had got in England.

No doubt that my favourite part of the series was engaging with our own @nathen007 who had his own personal experiences in the crowd watching the Leeds United Service Crew (from a 'safe' distance). I look forward to writing more for the wonderful Sports Talk Social community.

Chelsea Headhunters (Chelsea)

Active since the 1960s as the Shed Boys, the firm renamed to the Chelsea Headhunters in 1985. The Headhunters have strong links to white supremacist organisations as well as Northern Irish loyalists. The Chelsea Headhunters have many violent rivalries:

  • Millwall Bushwackers (Millwall)
  • Inter City Firm (West Ham)
  • Soul Crew (Cardiff City)
  • Service Crew (Leeds United)
  • Yid Army (Tottenham)
  • Baby Squad (Leicester City)

In 2010 members of the Chelsea Headhunters clashed with Cardiff City's Soul Crew during a fifth-round FA Cup tie. In a drug and alcohol fueled rage, the Headhunters would cause carnage against the Soul Crew and police. A police officer suffered a broken jaw and 24 people would ultimately be convicted as Operation Ternhill was launched to find and convict those involved.

As recently as 2014 the Headhunters were involved in pre-planned violence in France before a Champions League quarter-final against PSG, with around 300 hooligans entering France through Belgium to avoid detection.

The Chelsea Headhunters are one of the most feared firms in English football and were terrorising during the peak of hooliganism in the 80s. Interestingly the firm have formed alliances with Scottish club Rangers and Northern Irish team Linfield due to their unionism ideologies.

Naughty Forty - N40 (Stoke City)

Founded by Stoke City hooligans, the Naughty Forty were amongst the most violent hooligan firms in England. The firm began in 1985 when forty hooligans made an away trip to Portsmouth and the firm was born. At it's height, the firm had over 700 members and had gained a fierce reputation for fighting before, during and after games.

Although most hooligan activity has settled since the height of the 80's and 90's, Stoke has been involved in notable recent events. In 2018 at an under-21s game in the Checkatrade Trophy against local rivals Port Vale, violent fighting took place in the streets and inside the stadium. Coins, flares and seats that were ripped from the stadium were thrown at police as over 150 officers struggled to contain the violence. Toilets and sinks from the ground were even thrown through windows.

In the 2019/20 season, Stoke City supporters had the highest number of football banning orders.

Red Army (Manchester United)

Also known as the Men in Black, the Manchester United hooligan firm began in the 1970s and was considered to have the most members of any firm during the height of hooliganism.

During the 1974-75 season when Manchester United played one season in the Second Division, the Red Army caused chaos across the country where away support would sometimes outnumber home support. During a match against Blackpool, a Red Army member was involved in the stabbing death of a young Blackpool fan which led to the introduction of crowd segregation and fencing at grounds across England.

Although the activities of the Red Army have declined along with hooliganism in general, the Men in Black have been involved in recent disturbances, attacking Manchester United's chief executive Ed Woodward’s home in 2020. In 2021, the Men in Black mobbed the club's training ground following backlash to the European Super League proposal.

All the way from the Land Down Under, I created Wolfgang Sport as I enjoy writing and watching British and American sports. Started in 2017, I started the blog as a way to connect my passion for sports in the US & UK. Sign up to the newsletter today_ and I'll prove Aussies know more about your own sports than you think.

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It has been interesting reading about the Hooligans and the rivalries they had, great saga that brought us.