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Manchester United’s red Army was the most notorious hooligan following British football has ever seen. Tens of thousands strong. This huge tribe of disaffected youths from all over the country laid siege to town centres and soccer grounds and became a byword for terrace infamy.
Tony O’Neill was there from the beginning and became its most prominent face. He was barely in his teens when he set out in his Doc Martens from the largest council estate in Europe to follow the Red Devils. By the age of sixteen, his ferocity in street combat and force of personality had made him a leader – a position he would maintain for the next thirty years. Organising riotous trips in his infamous War Wagon, he became so renowned that he was invited to a sit-down meeting with then-Sports Minister Denis Howell to discuss ways to combat the rampant hooligan problem.
After serving a jail term at the end of the Seventies, O’Neill emerged to face the new ‘casual’ mobs. He quickly reasserted his control over United’s firm and led them against an even tougher generation of opponents: the West Ham I.C.F, the Chelsea Headhunters, the Leeds Service Crew and the scally armies of Liverpool and Everton. He was so successful that police intelligence files labelled him the ‘prime mover’ of United’s firm and he became the main target of a huge undercover investigation.
‘Well written and invigorating.’ CITY LIFE
‘Britain’s worst soccer yob.’ THE SUN
‘Britain’s No.1 football thug.’ DAILY MIRROR