West Ham

‘I was a West Ham hooligan- West Ham star makes strong admission

‘I was a West Ham hooligan – I stormed train full of Millwall thugs thinking I had back-up’

Tango requires two, and Millwall were always up for a dance. The “Bushwhackers” were willing to take on any company in the nation, even those that supported rival team West Ham United.

Bill Gardner, a former top boy who is now an author, has a wealth of anecdotes from his time as a hooligan facing the Millwall gang.

Hooliganism used to be very common, as Gardner’s experiences as a member of a firm demonstrate, from 600-man fights to charging into a scrap all by himself.

As stated by Gardner in Cass Pennant and Martin King’s 2004 book Terrace Legends, “I’m not a violent person; I just stood my ground.”

It was early in the 1970s, and I was returning home from Chelsea. Some Millwall were waiting for us on the platform when we arrived at Whitechapel train station. When the doors opened, they leaped over and began slapping some young West Ham supporters.

“I steamed into them, expecting the other boys on the train to support me, but I ended up steaming into them by myself,” the speaker said.

Furthermore, being demoted after a game is undoubtedly the worst feeling of them all. These are the things that happen when you follow my team. However, given our player roster and the callous manner in which we lost the 2002–03 season.

Despite having players like Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick, and Paolo Di Canio, West Ham’s 10-year run in the top flight ended that year when they finished with a now-safety-detailing 42 points.

“Looking back at some of those games we played, I think Millwall [were] the toughest,” Gardner continued. More than 300 people on each side, you know what I mean? They used to all show up when we went over there, and I have nothing but respect for them, so I believe they are all okay.

It’s really just a free-for-all; you know what I mean when they say in the movie Zulu,’mark your target’ when they come? You already know who you will end up with.”

He also described how the Met Police’s Operation Fulltime, which resulted in Gardner’s arrest, clamped down on hooliganism.

“It all came to an end when the faces involved retired. Additionally, the deployment of police spotters and CCTV cameras has prevented it from spreading farther.

“‘Bubbles’ is our song, but it’s a bit of a defeatist song,” Gardner continued, recalling his love for his club anthem. “In terms of songs, ‘Bubbles’ is the best,” he said. I also enjoy the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone”; it’s a terrific, upbeat football tune.

“I don’t go a lot of songs about Munich ’58 and Aberfan. I don’t like Man. United, but these types of songs are in bad taste. I wouldn’t like to hear songs badmouthing Bobby Moore.”

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