A Bit of Blow Sparks a New Twist in Millwall's Riot Tradition
So now witnesses say the yobbos who started Millwall's latest front-page affront were stoked on coke.
The notorious subculture that is the Millwall Bushwhackers has been a blight on English football since the 1970s, when they amazingly became a part of pop culture. They're not alone, of course, but no one will dispute the fact that they're the standard bearers of football hooliganism.
It took years for the authorities to understand this murky world and its attractions. Hooliganism has been around since the dawn of football, but the rise of organized violence among English supporters wasn't really recognized until the weekly battles became disturbingly blatant. Literal attack strategies detailing times and locations were coordinated in advance between gangs of yobbos whose own undercards were determined by the football schedule. And the ranks were filled not only by displaced youths on the dole but by middle-management types from bank branches and high-street retailers looking for -- as Elton John's song proclaimed -- a bit of action on the weekends.
Many of those clashes were so structured that non-hooligans ironically had little to fear in the way of physical harm. The participants knew each other well and kept the carnage to themsleves. Still, the detritus of their destruction left scars that were as emotional as they were costly.
What's unique this time is the Bushwhackers turned on themselves.
Whether this was due to a breakdown in their own internal code or simply too much of everything all the time has yet to be determined. If so, it may afford the authorities a fortuitous opportunity to divide and conquer. That's assuming, of course, they can get their own act together. If not, a reversion to anarchy may incite a firestorm that will be even more challenging to contain.
Meanwhile, football officials can bleat all they want about lifetime bans for offenders. Those only elevate the parties so named to martyr status. Until underlying social attitudes are better understood and reasonably addressed, this behavior simply feeds on itself. Since that won't happen in the near future, the only hope is the subculture consumes itself first by virture of its own excesses.
Simply put, the Bushwhackers aren't going away. Unless it happens by their own hand.