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Alex West
Alex West

Alex West: Football hooligans - let's get real

When heading to an away game on a Saturday morning prior to an afternoon kickoff, it’s difficult to not notice the number of different social groups which are associated with Notts County. I would like everyone reading this article to imagine the ‘typical football fan’ in the following scenario:

8am: Meeting point is Lloyds, Hockley for ‘brekkie and a pint’.

9am: Next it’s a stop in the shop in the train station for numerous purchases of Beer and Cider.

9.30am: Board the train with 9 of ‘the lads’ before consuming a number of cans and taking part in a few sing songs.

Midday: Off the train and into the nearest boozer for a few cheeky pints and a further sing song.

2.30pm: Head to the ground for one last pre-match pint before taking our seat with the rest of the NCFC faithful.

Now, build a picture of the ‘typical supporter’ described above. Describe his clothing, attitude towards Notts, social class, and most importantly, his personality.

Let me guess:

Polo shirt? Smart jeans? Smart trainers? No NCFC clothing?

Prefers away days? Looking for ‘aggro’? Prefers to get drunk?

Working class? Labourer? Unemployed?

Loud mouthed? Arrogant? Rude?

Now, I can only guess the percentage of our readers who would have matched the scenario with the description above, but I can envisage it being quite high. Would you categorise the typical away day Notts fan above being associated with the stereotype of a smartly dressed, tanked-up brickie looking for a punch-up?

I ask the question because perception, not just in football, is a massive part of life and is often misinterpreted. I’d like you all to stereotype my life below and take a punt at what my average away day looks like:

29 years old


Partner of 11 years with mortgage in £130,000 house

Three-year-old son

Fully employed as major supermarket manager with generous salary

Clean criminal record

Never been assaulted nor assaulted another person

I ask the question because of ‘perception’ and how it can be often misunderstood. The away day itinerary listed above is in fact my away day itinerary. I travel away with up to 9 or 10 others. Not once have we been involved in physical confrontation with police or rival fans. Not once have we engaged in looking for these two actions and not once have we travelled home following the game with nothing more than a sense of male bonding and a feeling of enjoyment and relief at getting away from the missus work for the day.

This seasons most memorable away trip has been Blackpool. Not for the football, not for the result, but for the relationships I can continue to build with people that I can call my friends and share a common interest with. We got drunk. We got merry. We danced, all night until early morning, and then fell drunkenly onto a twin bed in a budget Premier Inn at 3am.

Is this wrong? Are we thugs? Yobs? Or are we a group of friends who enjoy others company combined with alcohol and a sing song on the sea front?

I often read messageboards and Facebook posts on the official NCFC page and read comments slating the ‘youths at the front at Orient’ and the yobbos who let off smoke bombs at Mansfield. I think we all need a reality check here. In 2016, Notts County had 3 football related arrests away from home  – this equated to less than 1% of the total football related incidents in League 2 last season.

Alan Hardy and Kevin Nolan have made NCFC enjoyable again and more and more fans will begin to become involved with Notts County. Now as fans we have a decision to make, do we continue to look down at our noses at a different looking, different talking supporter or do we relish their desire to enjoy football as a whole experience and embrace their commitment to the cause?

Now let's be clear – I’m not for one minute stating that all football fans are angels, because they’re not, and there is still a growing hooligan element in the game which give groups of travelling football fans a bad perception to the public eye - but be wary of making rash assumptions when you see the boys enter the pub at 10am for a beer and a brekkie. We enjoy our football, we enjoy our away day, and with no hidden agenda.

I for one ENCOURAGE more groups of travelling fans to get together early in the morning and sink a few pints before the match. Why not? Because it's socially unacceptable? Because having a sing song and a Jagerbomb in the boozer will upset a few golden oldies who have sensitive hearing aids? Give me strength. Until Notts County fans start becoming violent or physically offensive to others, I am in full support of our away fans antics – and long may it continue.

See you all at Wycombe – get the beers in.

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i dont go to away games, only chesterfield to date and that was a few years back.

only under fullarton did things become silly at times but these days at home i barely notice anything. away days, i cant say but people should just enjoy themselves with causing trouble.

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Did the end suddenly swerve into a car crash?

The article makes interesting points but I am not sure Notts are any different than other clubs. The flare debate I do think some over react, Mansfield the other year was a bit silly but otherwise it adds to the atmosphere.

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Anyone who has to have a drink at 8am with their breakfast has a problem, it is generally called alcoholism or/and stupidity.

The people at the front at Orient, did behave like yobs, they clearly have a different definition of yob than the rest of us, yet again a small minority of people who believe the rules and conventions of society do not apply to them.

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This is intresting i travel from worcester but go thro birmingham and i rember when villa were playing derby and a train from derby pulled in all you saw was around 20 lads smashed clearly lookin for villa 


I travel to meadow lane on my own an away on my own have a few pints etc no problem with anyone.

Goin wycombe on my own to even tho heard wycombe the actual place is a crap hole as a town an is rough

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Good read. I'm not a fan of drinking beer with my breakfast, but I'm partial to a couple before the match should the opportunity arise.

"Hooligan" is an overused word and can mean virtually anything. In Germany it still means something specific - those individuals who organise "meets" with other clubs' hooligans for a fight or who ambush away fans. That's not what you're describing. By all means enjoy yourselves and support local breweries! :drool:

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In one hand you cannot stereotype people, as there are idiots who wear Notts shirts. Yet there is a growing issue with thick pre teens who have watched to many Danny Dyer films. Yet as stated before, its a minority thing and all Notts fans should try to get a long.

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