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HOOLIGANS; INSIDE THE BRUTAL WORLD OF BLUES ZULU WARRIORS Everyone was fighting in the road. A few lads grabbed a woman police officer and dragged her around by her ankles.

Byline: BY CARL MORRIS

A MIDLAND woman has spilled the beans on football hooligans after spending a year with Birmingham City's notorious Zulu Warriors. Caroline Gall has revealed how the soccer thugs dragged a policewoman round by the ankles during a violent battle with Aston Villa supporters.

Yet she describes most of the gang's leaders as 'complete gentlemen' in a book she has written.

She became 'intrigued' by the violent world of football hooliganism after becoming friends with one of the group's leading members.

Her book, titled Zulus, charts the history of the 'firm' from its origins in the early 1980s when it evolved from a gang known as the Apex.

It includes first-hand accounts of clashes between Blues fans and opposing supporters, including a graphic description of the Battle of Rocky Lane in 2002 with rival Villa fans.

According to one hooligan named Cud: "We heard a mad roar and saw Villa at the top of the hill.

"We went running up to them. We made the famous Zulu line which very rarely gets broken, and it didn't this time.

"All the lads were having it, with the shout to 'stand' going up while everyone was fighting in the road.

"A few lads grabbed a woman police officer and dragged her around the floor by her ankles"It was a proper battle and Villa just stood there in shock."

Other chapters recount police operations against the thugs, including Operation Red Card which led to the arrest of Zulu hooligans in dawn raids.

Journalist Caroline, 32, from Worcestershire, said: "Spending time with the Zulus completely changed my view of what a typical hooligan is like.

"Most of the main guys in the Zulus turned out to be complete gentlemen and there was never any difficulties about me being a woman.

"It came as a surprise to all my family and friends when I told them I was writing this book but they realised this was something I really wanted to do.

"It's been a real adventure and has opened my eyes up to a very male-dominated and secret world. I hope it will help give everyone a better understanding of these guys and what drives them."

Ellis Cashmore, a sports professor at Staffordshire University, said he wasn't surprised that a female had written a book about such a macho world.

"She's certainly the first woman to ever write such a bookbut I'mnot that surprised," he said. "Studies have shown for years now that women are excited by violence just as much as men are"There has certainly been an increase in women mimicking the laddish culture of hard drinking and generally being uncouth and brash.

"Women are still very much a minority when it comes to taking to the terraces but there have been incidents of women being banned from clubs for football-related violence."

He added: "There has been a plethora of books about football hooliganism and they do glamorise the violence attached to that lifestyle.

"But the bottom line is that there is a market for these books and people are eager to read about it."

He said football hooligans were often depicted as mindless thugs who have no real interest in the clubs they claim to represent.

But he added: "In reality I would say most so-called football hooligans are true, genuine and loyal supporters

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UNCOVERED: Caroline Gall launches her book with past and present Zulu Warriors
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Nov 20, 2005
Words:571
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