Connolly Was There… Happy Republic Day!

RepublicDayToday marks the 99th anniversary of the start of the Easter Rising in Dublin, an uprising against Ireland’s colonial masters that set in motion a revolutionary republican movement in Ireland that would last a century…

One of the most hallowed documents in the republican archive is the 1916 Easter Proclamation, it’s signatories the leaders of the Rising, were executed by the British in the immediate aftermath of the Dublin events.

Jim Slaven of the James Connolly Society has written a personal account of what the Proclamation means to him… You can read it on the 107 Cowgate blog – What The Proclamation Means To Me

This year’s James Connolly Commemoration in Edinburgh on June 6th will be the 29th consecutive commemoration organised by the James Connolly Society to celebrate the life of the great revolutionary in the city of his birth.

We would urge all TAL readers and supporters to attend this year’s event and to get involved with the James Connolly Society and join them in their preparations to celebrate the centenary of the Easter Rising in 2016.

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Mind The Gap… Join The Resistance @Clapton FC

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‘507 blocked malicious login attempts’

– Message in Admin area of this blog from host server security this morning

Hundreds of attempts were made to hack into the TAL FANZINE Blog account over the weekend while I was away visiting my sister, who suffered a minor stroke ten days ago, which could have been the precursor to something much worse and which might have killed her… Thankfully, she is now on the mend, and hopefully a combination of rapid medical intervention combined with good fortune will see her make a full and permanent recovery.

But what the fuck do the Cartoon Ultras and hipster loonies care about anyone related to me, especially a sibling that is 5ft tall and who, in her best political activist years, would have chewed up these so-called ‘anarchist’ and ‘Trotskyist’ dogmatists, as well as the Viz-cartoon style ‘ultra feminists’ who are currently swarming around Clapton FC like flies around a fresh cow turd?

For the diddy-class ultras the interests of the lynch mob is paramount.

Several attempts have also been made to hack the facebook accounts of the man they’ve made the target of their witch-hunt, along with the accounts of some of his most prominent and politically effective supporters on facebook. Anyone supporting our efforts to counter the lies and propaganda of the Cartoon Ultras should make sure that all their passwords are secure.  Do not share any detailed information about strategy and tactics via social media; i.e. by Private Message and Group Conversations (Facebook) or public Tweets and Direct Messages (Twitter).

The above is also good advice that is worth following, for other political organisations associated with Irish or Scottish republicanism, as well as revolutionary working class organisations…

You interlopers down Clapton Way better have the stamina for this, if you seriously want to continue to try to fuck people over based on false allegations. If this is the type of panic that a forcefully put and well-argued alternative perspective causes in less than a week, you really are a cowardly and pathetic shower… but then again, we already knew that, especially after the 20 football supporters that your 100 smelly creatures dressed in black uniforms attacked for a period of at least 20 minutes after the match on 28th March had decided that they’d shown enough restraint, started to fight back… AND WON!

Let’s face it, “You’re shit and you know you are…”

And we haven’t even got started yet.

We can assure the leadership of the Cartoon Ultras (and their sectarian friends) that we’re here for the long haul… and we’ve been here many times before against enemies from football and politics that we have a more healthy respect for, on the page and on the pavement, than any of you wasters.

We also issue a genuine appeal once again (and we will continue to do so in every blog, leaflet and poster that we issue) that we are not against every supporter of Clapton FC.  In fact, we are not even against every Ultra at Clapton FC. We appeal to any genuine anti-fascists and working class supporters of Clapton FC to ignore the lies and propaganda of the middle-class muckspreaders. Contact us and join us in the fight to liberate your club from the grubby clutches of a self-serving and cultist section of the authoritarian left. Let’s work together to rekindle the genuine anti-fascist and progressive working class roots of London’s East End in general and your football club, in particular.

We are not ‘anonyomous’ – We are The Resistance.

Contact us and join the fight not only to clear the name of an innocent man but to put Clapton FC back in the hands of its genuine fans and  back into the hands of the local community where it belongs. This fanzine and its friends and supporters in the London area will assist any Clapton fans that want to form an alternative group that is inclusive and whose primary interest is to support the team rather than to advance sectarian political agendas.

The title of this article coins a well-known warning on the London Underground system that will be familiar to most readers. The analogy is that there is a gap – a political vacuum – at Clapton FC that is currently being filled by middle-class political sects and cults. It’s time that the stick was bent in the other direction. We want to help you build the Resistance to this colonisation of football and working class areas. So please ‘Mind The Gap‘ – because if we don’t make the effort, it will not only be filled by these loonies and creeps, but once the fash cotton on to how really weak these people are, both politically and physically, they will clear them out and another football club will be lost to the far-right.

JOIN THE RESISTANCE

NO PASARAN – FOR AN ANTI-FASCIST ZONE IN THE EAST END

NO SURRENDER TO THE TYRANY & DOGMA OF THE AUTHORITARIAN LEFT

FOR A PROGRESSIVE WORKING CLASS ULTRAS SECTION AT CLAPTON

FREE CLAPTON FC

by TALMAN

With many thanks to LS (a Clapton fan who has now washed his hands of the Cartoon Ultras and joined The Resistance to them)

The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum

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The furore over the allegations of domestic violence against RMT official Steve Hedley rages on down Clapton way, where after instigating and leading an attack on Steve and his friends at a recent Clapton FC match the club’s Cartoon Ultras have decided to organise for the club’s last match of the season an activity that they are calling a Stand Against Abusers.

The statement that they have issued is an astonishing piece of propaganda that would have been the pride of a Stalinist show trial. Paragraph after paragraph compounds lie upon lie. If this is how these people interpret the world and what took place in Clapton on 28th March where they organised an assault by more than 100 people on less than 20, they really have moved football into another dimension where reality is turned on its head and the victims of an organised attack by a bunch of middle-class bullies (who only attack people when they have those kind of odds in their favour) are portrayed as aggressors and the friend they defended as someone who attends a football match out of a sense of ‘vengeance’.

It’s interesting also that one of the organisations that aligns itself with the Cartoon Ultras and which is foremost in spreading the allegations against Steve and badmouthing his friends to anyone who will listen, had in the ranks of their leadership, until it was publicly exposed and they were forced to expel him under pressure, a convicted rapist. Yes, that’s right, a CONVICTED rapist. Not someone accused of, or alleged to have committed rape, this guy was investigated, charged, convicted and served time for the brutal rape of a woman. No problem for the diddy ultras; nothing to see here, move along please…

Steve Hedley has been investigated twice by two separate investigations, each of which reached the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to prove the allegations against him and that there was ‘no case to answer’.  He is, to all extents and purposes, an innocent man. However, as everyone knows, no-one escapes the Spanish Inquisition and the wannabe Torquemada’s down Clapton way continue with the campaign against him, confirmed in the belief that they are right and the two investigations into the allegations – and anyone who questions the wisdom of their campaign – is wrong.

“Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way…”

You can gear your demonstrations to suit your grubby means to discredit one of the most militant trades unionists in the country, but others are now watching your antics and every move you make further exposes the dilettante and authoritarian nature of your politics. That some of these people even call themselves anarchists is perhaps the most ironic part of all, although they are certainly doing their best to create as much chaos and confusion at Clapton FC as they possibly can.

Where is the local community of the East End, a solid working class area with proud traditions of working class struggle and anti-fascist resistance? The tail is wagging the dog at Clapton FC , the real fans of the club need to reclaim it before these lunatics make you the laughing stock of world football.  We know from twitter and facebook discussions that not all of the fans of Clapton FC support what happened on March 28th. We also know that not even all of the ultras support what went on.  But the middle-class bullies and ultra-feminists don’t care about that, they’ve got a lynching to organise and that agenda takes priority over football, politics and the the interests of the local community.

You can wave your trendy colourful banners that say ‘Real Ultras Are Feminists’ in the hope of impressing a football audience of which you have absolutely no concept, but the only people you impress are the small and cliquish circles of the political sects that you move in. The world is watching your amateur dramatic society now and many of those that we know on the European football scene are beginning to question what is really going on under the surface at Clapton.

The revolution won’t be won by catchy slogans on banners proclaiming how right-on you are. We won the fight against racism at Celtic because we won the argument. We didn’t have to bash people to do that, we argued and persuaded people that racism was not only wrong, but that it was directly against their own interests and undermined working class unity.

The Cartoon Ultras statement also included a link to a research report about domestic violence in Scottish football and was a thinly veiled attack on those Celtic supporters who have either remained neutral on the Hedley affair, or who have defended him. They are deliberately trying to ‘bad jacket’ Celtic fans now as ‘apologists for domestic violence.’  Perhaps a more appropriate slogan that might open up a rational debate about sexism and homophobia in football would be, ‘Not all ultras are feminists yet, but we’re doing our best to get there…’

We appeal to the working class fans of Clapton FC to fight for their club and to take it back from the pantomime lynch mob. Here at TAL, we have no axe to grind with you, the genuine supporters of the club.

We would welcome communication and co-operation with the working class fans of Clapton FC.

Talman

Good Days & Bad Days

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In the last blog I wrote a bit about my own childhood experiences to illustrate some often overlooked collateral damage that goes with the territory of domestic violence. I made the point that I tend not to write about myself or my background, because I don’t see what I do politically, at football or in the community, as something that is unique or particularly distinctive from what any other progressive working class football fan or community activist does. It’s not about me, it’s about us and what we strive for together as working class people

Opening up about yourself and your experiences can be a cathartic experience for some. It doesn’t work that way for me. I brought to the fore some experiences that I keep in a dark corner somewhere in the back of my mind. I don’t particularly want to relive those experiences over and over again, so I try for the most part to remember as many of the happy experiences that I’ve had in life and keep those to the fore. Putting those childhood experiences down in print for the first time probably had a greater psychological effect on me in the last couple of days than I had anticipated. In those darker periods I have a tendency to lash out and I have lashed out a few people in the last few days, not in a physical way, but the interweb can sometimes provide an all to easy way of letting off steam.

I stand by all that was written in the blog, but in some of the places on the web where it has been discussed I’ve probably overstepped the mark a few times when arguing with the haters and stalkers that have, for two years, relentlessly pursued  a man who has never been charged or found guilty of any offence. He’s my friend and I stand by him. If I had any doubts about his claims of innocence on the allegations of domestic abuse being made against him I would not touch him with a barge pole. He knows that.

If any of my friends or acquaintances got caught in the crossfire in the last couple of days, I offer sincere apologies for any bad behaviour on my part. My childhood experiences obviously left their mark on me, but I do not offer them up as an excuse for any excessive or bad behaviour on my part. I should know better by now. As an anti-fascist I was able to channel a lot of the frustrations and anger in a positive way; bullying the bullies of the far-right out of activity in Scotland at a time when they were beginning to make some real headway. Nowadays there is the internet and sometimes it can be too easy to hit the send button and say, “Fuck Yiz All!”

There’s another compounding factor that has been worrying me since Sunday night when I heard about it and that is that my younger sister suffered a mild stroke at the weekend. She is okay, but she lives 250 miles away and I probably won’t be fully content again until I visit her this Friday. I don’t even know why I am writing this down for an audience of strangers to read, but fuck it.  As I said though, there are no excuses for bad behaviour and I’d like to say sorry to anyone that I’ve offended, or was particularly nasty or verbally abusive towards in the last few days. Sorry folks.

I am absolutely opposed to domestic violence. the reasons for which are made pretty apparent in the last blog. I have intervened directly in situations where a man has used violence against a woman. I remember many years ago during the anti-Poll Tax campaign in Scotland there were 3 of us – me, my partner and a friend who was in the SWP at the time – who had been out flyposting and leafleting for an upcoming demo. We were back in the car and driving my mate back to his house when we saw a man battering a woman in the street, and when I say battering, I mean full-on punches and kicks. My partner immediately hit the brakes and shouted, “Get that bastard off her!” We jumped out of the car and grabbed the guy, pulled him away and gave him a few digs for good measure. A few other people had seen our intervention and come over as well. Someone, presumably from one of the overlooking tenements, had already called the cops and they arrived as we held the guy still. They took some details on the scene and lifted him and took the woman away as well. We were never called as witnesses, so presumably the man plead guilty when it eventually got to court. It’s not a story to make myself or anyone else out to be a hero, but it is a verifiable example of my commitment to zero tolerance of domestic violence and male violence against women.

My partner would describe herself as a socialist-feminist, and together we have raised four boys, two of them now young adults. We’ve tried always to promote positive values with them. Values of equality and respect; that you treat others as you would expect to be treated yourself, and never to countenance discrimination, including sexism, racism and homophobia.  My two eldest boys have faced down all of those things while growing up.

When the parents of a Tamil kid at his school were lifted for alleged connections to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and the kids at school shunned the boy, my second eldest made a point of staying with him all day, sitting at the dinner table with him and not allowing anyone to take any liberties with him. They weren’t particularly friends either, but he saw the reaction to the kid and stood by him regardless. Myself and my partner could not have been any prouder of him at that moment. Both of the older boys have also shown the same kind of solidarity to gay friends who have been the subject of homophobic abuse and have challenged sexism. They’re not perfect though, they’re ordinary young men who make mistakes, as we all do, but they learn from the  mistakes and move on.

Yesterday was a bad day for me, but with these positive thoughts in mind I know that today is going to be a good day.

Cheers.

Talman

Domestic Violence and the Clapton Clown Army…

Last year I approached Steve Hedley, an Assistant General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime & Transport Union (RMT) on behalf of the James Connolly Society and asked him if he would speak on the topic of ‘Connolly’s Trades Unionism & Its Relevance Today’ at the Connolly Conference in October, 2014.

I’ve known Steve for more than 20 years, although we were not in regular contact for all of those years. Along with myself and others, he was one of the dozen or so AFA members who came under attack from a 60-strong group of Combat 18 fascists and off-duty British Squaddies at the Enkel Arms in north London in the early 1990’s. An attack that left more fascists bloody and bowed than the anti-fascists who were under attack. We stood shoulder-to-shoulder that day and fought against a bunch of violent Nazi bootboys.

Since then he has been involved in many progressive working class campaigns, including the defence and advocacy of the rights of immigrants and refugees, as well as becoming one of the most militant trades union leaders in the country under the guidance of the late Bob Crow.

Within hours of announcing that Steve would be a guest speaker at the Connolly Conference, I was contacted via a thread on the left-wing Urban 75 forum (by people who are completely unknown to me) and informed that Steve should be blocked from speaking at any progressive or left-wing meetings because they alleged that he had beaten a former partner and was, in their words, “a domestic abuser.” The organiser of the JCS received similar communications at the same time. These communications also linked to a blog that detailed the allegations and pictures which purported to show the injuries that he had allegedly inflicted on his former partner.

I was shocked. I immediately contacted another RMT activist who is a long time friend of mine and asked him about these allegations. He informed me that the RMT and the Police had investigated the allegations against Steve Hedley and found insufficient evidence to support the claims of domestic abuse and no further action was taken against Steve by either the police or the union. I then contacted Steve Hedley himself and asked for an explanation from him. He forwarded to me the letters from the Police and the RMT which admonished him and in addition he allowed me access to almost two years worth of his mobile phone records, which detailed the exchanges between himself and his former partner, before and after the alleged domestic abuse. He had during the course of the investigations by the union and police allowed his phone provider to provide them with a full record of their exchanges in order to demonstrate the nature of their 18-month relationship, which was largely dysfunctional.

Steve also detailed one incident which he said had resulted in both of them landing on the ground, but which he claimed was the result of his former partner attacking him with a screwdriver and his attempts to fend her off. Steve also alleges that he himself was a victim of domestic violence perpetuated by his former partner who has a long history of mental health and self-harm issues, pre-dating the relationship.

The details can be found here in a statement that he published online on March 28th, 2013,

The details of his former partner’s allegations can be found here.

This was also part of his submission to the police and the trade union inquiries. His former partner, by then also an RMT member, was questioned about the incident and those in charge of the two separate investigations reached the conclusion that this was not a straightforward case and that there was no clear evidence to take any action against Hedley.

In spite of this, a section of the identity-obsessed, middle-class, authoritarian left refuse to accept that the evidence is inconclusive and insist that Steve’s partner must be believed regardless of the evidence and that sanctions must be imposed upon him.

The investigations of the police are dismissed, because it’s a police investigation and ‘all cops are bastards’ anyway. The RMT investigation is also dismissed because, ‘Well, they’re all Steve’s friends, they would say that, wouldn’t they?’

There is no such thing as natural justice or weight of evidence in their eyes. If a woman says that this is what happened then she must be believed, regardless of any evidence to the contrary. That’s the criteria by which they pronounce an automatic verdict of ‘guilty’ on all men accused of domestic violence.

I agree that all claims of domestic violence must be taken seriously and my own inclination is always to believe the woman in most instances. However, I also believe that all accused people are entitled to a fair and impartial hearing (aka ‘Natural Justice’) and that weight of evidence and natural justice are key components of the type of just and equal society that we are all striving for.

Mixed up in all of this are Hedley’s political enemies within and without the RMT who have adopted his former partner as a cause celebre and have used her allegations against Hedley at every turn, circulating them widely and anonymously, demanding that Hedley be boycotted by the labour and trades union movement, as well as left and anarchist organisations. The trial, it seems, has already taken place (without the accused in attendance) and a guilty verdict pronounced by a self-appointed jury.

The campaign against Hedley has taken some bizarre twists and turns along the way, culminating in anyone who either defends him, or those like myself who have questioned that reasoning and asked for further evidence to support the allegations against him, being labelled as “apologists for domestic violence.”

This is an accusation that cuts to the bone for me and one that I am not prepared to accept. It is a deliberate smear and a lie.

Regular readers of the fanzine, our social media pages, the old TAL forum and this blog will know that I rarely write about myself or my background. I have tended to rail against those bloggers who write about politics or football, but whose every post is really aimed at their own self-aggrandisement. Well, this next part is about me, but it’s not told to try to garner sympathy nor is it likely to inflate my ego, but hopefully it might provide some further insight into domestic violence. It’s a part of my life that I would rather leave behind and it is not easy to write about. I’ve never written about it before, although I have confided in close friends when the going has gotten tough for me.

I spent most of my childhood and early adult years living in terror of a violent and abusive father. There was regular physical and mental abuse of my mother by my dad for all of the years that I can remember. My childhood was not a happy one, because I was also the target of much of the physical abuse. I cannot remember a single birthday during my childhood when my dad didn’t come home drunk and cause mayhem, usually ending in me or my mum, or both of us being slapped about… he never left a mark on our faces, always kicks and punches to the body or legs, so that there were rarely visible marks that might draw attention. That’s how calculated it was.

I remember at the age of about 10 being part of a group of kids from Haghill in the east end of Glasgow. One of this group had an aunty who lived in Sandyhills, which was a fair trek away. He suggested that we get the ‘Wee 30’ bus (a corporation single-decker, which was unusual because most of the corpy buses were all double-deckers) and visit his aunty. So about 6 of us set out for this guy’s aunt’s house… Anyway, we didn’t even have the right fare and the bus driver threw us off at some point and we walked the rest of the way… When we got there his aunty wasn’t even in, so the promise of sweeties and cakes at the end of the journey was unfulfilled. Time had moved on though and it was starting to get dark. Some of us had to beg adults at the bus stop to get the money for our bus fare back home. When we arrived back and started walking towards Haghill we saw that everyone had been out searching for us, parents were frantic with worry, thinking that something awful had happened to us. My friends’ parents ran to them and hugged them, glad that they had returned safe and well from our wee adventure. My dad met me on the Cumbernauld Road, still in his work gear wearing steel toe-capped boots, and kicked me all the way from the Cumbernauld Road to Irongray Street in front of all of those who had been out looking for us and then proceeded to batter lumps out of me once inside the house. That was my welcome home. No police or social workers were called, no-one tried to stop him.

I also remember aged around 13 coming home from a mate’s house in Dennistoun to see two police cars outside our tenement and my dad’s two sisters huddled in a close mouth across the road, calling me over to tell me that he had just been lifted for battering my mum. I wasn’t there and hadn’t witnessed it, but my 9-year-old sister was there and so were the two aunts who had been called by her to come and try to stop him hitting my mother. He was lifted and charged with assault. At last, we were going to get the bastard convicted. However, his sisters declined to give evidence and the only witness against him, apart from my mother, was my little sister. He plead ‘not guilty’ when it came to trial and put his 9-year-old daughter in the witness box to be cross-examined by his solicitor, a leading Glasgow criminal lawyer, well-known for his defence of the city’s most violent gangsters. The case was thrown out after my wee sister became confused and upset under aggressive questioning…

As the years moved on I increasingly put myself between him and my mum and took the beatings for her. He never did hit my sister for some reason, but that didn’t mean that she was unaffected by the violence she saw around her. It’s something that deeply affected both of us as children and adults.

That’s domestic abuse and it doesn’t only affect women.

I vowed never to treat any partner or children that I might have in the way that me and my mum were treated. I’ve stuck with that vow and I have managed to develop wonderful and loving relationships with my children and partner (and they’re not without their ups and downs, like any other relationships).

Apologist for domestic violence? I don’t think so.

The affect that domestic violence has on others around it is also a serious point to take into consideration when it comes to the allegations against Steve Hedley. The testimony of former partners and his children (all of whom I believe are girls, some of them grown up now) suggests a happy and loving parent and doting kids. He has amicable relationships with former partners who have confirmed that none of those relationships involved violence. These are women too, does their evidence and testimony count for nothing?

One aspect of this that is curious to me is why, if the supporters of his former partner are so sure of the evidence and facts against Steve Hedley,  it has not crossed their minds to raise the funds for a private prosecution and present the evidence – all of it – to a court of law? Has the legal advice she has received concurred with the conclusions drawn by the Police and RMT investigations?

Are they really concerned about his former partner and the alleged domestic violence, or is their campaign simply a cynical means to another end?

There is a school of thought in Hedley’s camp that suggests the allegations against him are a convenient cover for a political campaign by his enemies in the RMT to remove him from his position and job and that his ex-partner has been cynically manipulated to that end. One of the foremost groups at the centre of this campaign is the Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) a weirdo group of pro-Zionist, middle-class lefties and university graduates currently slumming it as Underground workers… Their turn towards the RMT mirrors that of another Trotskyist sect in the 1980’s which was involved in infiltrating the trades union movement at the Cowley Car Plant in Oxford. So over-qualified were some of them that they actually falsified their CV’s and education details in order to play the role of ‘workers’.

The AWL organisation within the RMT has previously attacked Hedley for his outspoken support for the rights of the Palestinians and his criticism of the state of Israel, which they have described as ‘anti-semetic’… Yes, that old chestnut of a smear against opponents of Zionism and Israeli aggression against the Palestinians.

After Hedley attended a demonstration (in his capacity as an RMT Assistant General Secretary) to support the E15 Mothers Group – a group of women in the East End of London who occupied homes and demanded more public housing for local people – he was again attacked by the AWL and middle-class anarchists as a ‘domestic abuser’ and the E15 women were subjected to a torrent of propaganda encouraging them to ban Hedley from any further demos and meetings.

When he attended a match at Clapton FC he was attacked by women who threw beer over him in a pub frequented by a group that calls itself The Clapton Ultras. This is a ‘modern ultras’ group made up of middle-class lefties who have adopted a small football team and imposed their own brand of identity politics upon it.

More recently Hedley returned to Clapton FC last Saturday (28th March) in the company of Clapton fans, RMT members, Underground CSC members, the Cowdenbeath Flying Column (a group of anti-fascist Celtic fans from Fife) and some young Villa Ultras from Birmingham ( in total, a group of roughly 20 people).

Ironically enough, the Clapton fans in whose company Hedley attended the match were the frontline fighters when Clapton’s visit to Southend drew the attention of fascists. A victory that the Clapton Ultras were quick to claim as their own afterwards.

On this occasion the reception for Hedley was much uglier and more violent and appeared to have been pre-organised, with Clapton enjoying its highest attendance this season. On entering the ground and going into a small terrace known as The Scaffold, there was a bit of shouting from a group of women about him not being welcome. They declined to discuss the matter in any rational way with the people that they were shouting at – the Clapton Ultras vacated their own terrace and moved behind the goal.

At one point, one eejit tried to steal the anti-fascist banner of the Cowdenbeath Flying Column, as if that would symbolise some kind of victory… In their tiny minds they think that the rest of us subscribe to their silly little games about stealing group banners and that being a ‘victory’ which obliges the group on the receiving end to accept defeat and disband. It’d be hilarious if these dough-balls weren’t so serious about this stuff.

At full-time a small group of women backed up by the ‘Clapton Ultras’ tried to attack Hedley, still demanding that he be removed, or remove himself from the ground. When no-one moved there then followed a barrage of indiscriminate bottle and can throwing at the entire group in whose company Hedley had attended the match. The brave lads throwing the bottles and cans did so from behind the screaming and spitting women who led the onslaught. Clapton Ultras have tried to spin the lie that Hedley threw a can at a woman shouting at him, but this is a complete fabrication. Steve Hedley and the people around him were the ones being bombarded with bottles and cans. Eventually, after receiving a couple of injuries from the bottles and cans being thrown at them, the group had had enough and responded to the provocation and more than a few of the Clapton Clown Army were put on their arses.

Despite the intense provocation, considerable restraint was shown by all of those in attendance, the majority of whom had no idea what was going on. The group of Celtic fans and Villa Ultras had gone to Clapton to show solidarity with their fans and had brought bags of goods for the foodbank collection that had been organised for that day. Despite the smears and lies put around the internet since last Saturday, accusing them of being a ‘mob’ who had gone to Clapton looking for bother, there was no aggressive intent in their attendance at this match.

A London-based Celtic supporter who was there described what happened:

“Nothing much of note happened until half time {Editors Note: we understand that this actually took place at full-time] we remained in the stand and were soon confronted by the 150-200 “Ultras ” led by the group of women who had taken exception at SH being there.. The abuse towards SH and the rest of us resumed. Restraint was shown as we were shouted at and spat at by the group of women. The crowd backing them up, however, soon started throwing bottles and cans at us causing a couple of injuries in the process. After about five minutes of this it was decided enough was enough and those identified as the bottle throwers were physically confronted. The video footage shows nothing, it was a bit more than handbags and certainly was not “Hedley’s henchmen” attacking people who were opposing him. This was a group of pissed-off football fans who attended a match in solidarity with a supposed group of anti-fascists, who were attacked with bottles and provoked into fighting back after showing great restraint.”

As far as we are aware two arrests resulted from this confrontation, one of them a Celtic supporter. Clapton Ultras claim that the police were called by the club. It has also been alleged that a Clapton Ultra has made a statement to the police concerning the Celtic lad who was arrested.

Whatever happened to that old ACAB mantra? ‘All Cops Are Bastards’, except, it appears, when it comes to getting other fans nicked after your attempts to physically attack them have backfired and you’ve come off second best. If the allegation that one of their Ultras has made a statement against the Celtic fan, their little dalliance with ‘footy’ will be well and truly over…

One of the Cowdenbeath visitors put their behaviour in these terms: “In short a shower of arseholes and bullies who thought they had nothing better to do than turn on the intimidation and the job would be done.. Sadly not really how it worked out, sadder still is what seems to have began as a genuine and good thing has been hijacked by elements of the left who appear determined to tear the whole thing apart”.

There is a bigger issue here, one that all working class football fans should take heed of, and it is an issue to which I will return in another blog. The middle-class left appears to be intent on colonising every aspect of working class life, using the politics of identity to further divide our class along the lines of race, gender and sexual orientation.

This obsession with identity politics has, along with the onslaught of Thatcher and her bastard offspring, divided and disorientated the labour movement and working class communities in the last 30 years. Now that they’ve finished with that little project and their sects have disintegrated because most of them had no organic connection with the working class anyway, they’ve turned their attentions to football. You see, in their fantasy world, we mere proles are too stupid to form our own organisations and tackle issues democratically from the grassroots upwards, we need the leadership of the middle-classes to lead us to the promised land.

Eventually something has got to give, because the divisive nature of this reactionary and conservative middle-class left is infecting and dividing our communities and as a consequence creating the base and support for the fascists and racists to operate in working class areas. They’re not here to liberate us, they’re here to try to control us and dictate to us, creating a hierarchy of oppression that we must adhere to…

Since the incidents mentioned, there’s even been some of the Clapped-out Ultras claiming to be Celtic supporters too, in a half-arsed attempt to curry favour. They are Clapton, they’re not ‘Celtic’ and they never will be. Not in their wildest fantasies. And if it turns out that one of them has grassed up a Celtic supporter for an incident that they instigated, they will be the laughing stock of football. No-one will have to steal your banner to force you to disband, the ridicule and embarrassment of having  a tout among you should be enough to do the trick. Ultras my arse!

An old friend of mine from St Pauli coined a phrase that struck a chord with me many years ago, which I paraphrase here:

“You’re Celtic and left wing? – That’s Great! 

“You’re Celtic because you’re left wing? – Fuck Off!”

These clowns are even discussing trying to suck up to the group of Celtic fans that they attacked by offering some kind of ‘solidarity’ for a lad arrested during an incident that they orchestrated. They know where they can shove their ‘solidarity’.  We look after our own.

This is football not the lefty politics of the students union. If the Clapton Clowns want to play the part of a football mob, they really need to get with the programme, because what happened last Saturday is nothing compared to what they might face if a real football firm ever turns up on their ‘manor’.

Talman