It is not hard to find parallels between i.d. and the failed police attempts to infiltrate the world of football hooliganism, although I do wonder whether, in real life, the police would have put someone like Trevor, the sergeant, in charge of the undercover operation. He would surely have felt more comfortable sitting at Crewe station taking down numbers.
More seriously, the decision by the police in the film not to prosecute anyone due to their inability to identify ringleaders leads the viewer to believe that the violence is merely spontaneous and leaderless. Evidence suggests that the reality is quite different: hooliganism then, and probably more so today, is organised, even though events may not always go according to plan.
Last year, 62 incidents were reported in London, 54 of them away from the football ground. Sometimes fights took place miles away from the match and hours before or after. With the police's greater powers, the level of organisation among gangs has increased accordingly. Indeed, one criticism that can be levelled against the police is that, while they have pushed hooliganism away from the ground, they have merely increased the secretiveness and sophistication of the gangs.
The fascist rally at the end seems to pop up with no apparent connection to the rest of the story. Considering the influence of the National Front on many hooligan gangs in London during the Eighties, and the fact that i.d. is set in the heart of the Isle of Dogs, where the BNP scored its election victory in 1993, no reference to right-wing elements in the rest of the film is surprising. This is not to say that all hooligans are fascist, or even white - far from it - but anyone who experienced the football grounds of West Ham, Millwall and Chelsea throughout the Eighties can be left in no doubt that there was considerable right-wing activity.
n Pete Brighton was the associate producer of last month's 'World in Action' on Combat 18, the neo-Nazi group involved in football hooliganism. He is also a senior researcher for the anti-fascist magazine 'Searchlight'Reuse content