Sporting Vernacular 39: HOOLIGAN

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The Independent Online
ON SATURDAY, Glasgow was the venue for football's troubleseekers to raise their ugly heads, and the origins of the word "hooligan" stretch back more than 100 years.

The word began to be used in newspapers as early as 1898, the London Daily News in August, for example, recording: "The constable said the prisoner belonged to a gang of young roughs calling themselves `hooligans'."

The same month, the Daily Graphic wrote of "The avalanche of brutality which, under the name of `Hooliganism' has cast such a dire slur on the social records of south London."

The words had figured in an 1890s musical song about a rowdy Irish family, while a comic Irishman of that name appeared in a magazine, Funny Folks. The book Hooligans Night by Clarence Rook (1899) claimed that Patrick Hooligan was a bouncer and petty thief from Borough, south of the Thames, who was jailed for life for murdering a policeman.

Ernest Weekley, in Romance of Words (1912), writes: "The original Hooligans were a spirited Irish family... whose proceedings enlivened the drab monotony of life in Southwark about 14 years ago."