SHELF LIFE

2 What makes a man a football hooligan? Lack of education, social deprivation, boredom, inadequacy? Dougie and Eddy Brimson want you to tick "none of the above". Everywhere We Go: Behind the Matchday Madness (Headline pounds 6.99) is their joyful we-wuz-there analysis of thuggery on the terraces. Eddy, younger and prettier, is a graphic designer. Doug looks a bit tougher, but still got 11 'O' levels, did 18 years in the RAF and is now a freelance writer and actor, married with three children. Dougie doesn't even like swearing in front of women. So they're hardly typical thugs, are they?

Actually, this is the brothers' point. There is no stereotyped council- flat racist hooligan, they insist; that's just a media myth. Oh, and shouting "You black bastard" at players is not racism, apparently. Dougie explains: "'You dirty Northern/Southern/fat/black/ bald/Cockney bastard' ... are all commonly heard examples ... the abuse comes from calling him a 'dirty bastard', the fat/black etc description is used merely to show which player is the target." In fact, Dougie goes on, give him or any fan a goal-scoring genius of a player and he will "let him come round to my house, eat all my food, drink the contents of my fridge and marry my eldest daughter, no matter where he comes from or what his colour is."

Going ever deeper in his analysis Dougie admits that while he himself is "fat and bald" he could escape insults by dieting and wearing a wig, whereas a black player does not have this option. Here, Dougie rises to a peak of indignation: "Every coloured bloke I have ever met has been proud to be black."

Why aren't women hooligans? Dougie has an answer for that too (he does most of the talking here). Men get more passionate about footie because "all men know that if things had been only slightly different they could have been out there with Wright and Shearer ... at Wembley." The difference between fat, bald Dougie and Ian Wright is hardly less marked than that between Wright and the average woman.

Still, though you'd never employ the brothers Brimson as logicians or moral philosophers, at least this honest, funny and refreshingly direct account achieves its aim of toppling a few careless stereotypes.

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