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CURSE OF THE CASUALS DAY 7 : LESSONS IN HATE; Senior casuals recruiting boys to train them as violent football yobs.

Byline: ANDREW WALKER and RICHARD ELIAS EXCLUSIVE

YOUNG casuals are being given lessons in thuggery by veterans of football violence.

Firms attached to Hibs and Aberdeen operate a "pairing system" to bring on young members.

It has replaced the old "baby crews" in which younger thugs used to operate.

One casual said yesterday: "The baby crews don't really exist now.

"What you see is pairing, where an older casual will take a young one in and look after him, showing him how it's done.

"They'll just pick a boy they know and take him under their wing. They'll make sure they are blooded properly."

On Saturday, police thwarted an organised battle between Hearts and Celtic casuals outside a pub in Balgreen Road, Murrayfield, Edinburgh.

Officers acting on a tip-off turned up in large numbers to escort the casuals to Tynecastle.

The casuals were restricted to taunting rival supporters with Nazi salutes and obscenities.

A police spokesman said: "We were aware trouble was anticipated and policed the match accordingly."

Many of the older casuals are hooligans from the 1980s who "retired" to have families and hold down jobs.

They say they have returned because they miss the "buzz" of fighting.

At the same time, a younger breed of hooligan has emerged.

And police say the link-up between the two groups is one of the most worrying trends in football violence.

Sources close to the Hibs and Aberdeen hooligan groups say they are now seeing more organisation.

One casual said the generation gap in the new wave of football thugs meant the "pairing" system had to be introduced.

He said: "There are older guys and there are the young lads - but there are virtually no casuals aged in between. The old ones are aged between 30 and 40 and have been at it for years - or fell out of it and have returned.

"At the other end of the scale you've got your 17 to 20-year-olds.

"There is no one in the middle and that's why it was seen as better to have the younger ones under the eye of the more experienced boys.

"This season I've seen Aberdeen and Hibs operate the pairing system."

Another hooligan said: "There are definitely a lot of the older guys coming back into it.

"Some have never been away, but others have made a return and are shoulder- to-shoulder with the younger lads."

Hooligans who follow Celtic often "graduated" in the school of soccer thuggery through the Celtic Soccer Babes.

And the firm which follows Motherwell - known as Saturday Service - also operated two junior crews at one time.

They were called the Tufty Club and the Soccer Shorties and mini-hooligans worked their way up into the major hooligans league. There was also a crew for woman hooligans called the Soccer Sisters, which followed Motherwell.

Police in Edinburgh have revealed a resurgence in Hearts casuals has been fuelled by older yobs teaming up with young hooligans.

Many of the older hooligans have known links to far-right organisations such as Combat 18 and the British National Party.

A source said: "This younger group are coming through at the same time as the older ones are re-establishing themselves.

"With their links to extreme right-wing groups, it's obviously a concern."
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 22, 2003
Words:541
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