The Brother used to be an avid attender at football matches back in the day, and has written about them on more than one occasion, whether talking about watching the only two footballers ever to have taken his breath away, or personal experiences of what our continental cousins used to call the English disease. I'm always puzzled by his never having posted anywhere an email he once sent me filled with musings and memories of Crewe station, which before getting to the holy of holies, dallied with some football-related observations.
'When I stopped living in Liverpool and moved to Birmingham, I retained my season ticket at Goodison and so at least every second week - and of course for every midweek game including the never to be missed Simod Cup clashes - I headed north and often found myself in Crewe rather than on the direct train . . .All of which is a circuitous way of saying that I expected he'd have quite a bit to say about today and his memories of what happened twenty years ago, when 96 people died and the English disease wasn't to blame, despite what some claimed at the time. And he does. You should read it, even if football means nothing to you.
It was in Crewe station that I sat unspeaking among English national team supporters as we all headed for Dublin and a spiteful International fixture. Seated either side of me were two large giggling skinheads from Millwall who were doing their own spotting - that of notorious thugs among the English fans. As I silently drank my tea between them I noticed the backs of the hands of both of the skinheads as they drank theirs. Tattooed on the hand of one was "TRACY" and on the other was "MICHELLE". The next time I saw them was in Dublin as part of a marauding English gang that waded into the Irish crowd with boots and fists. I held screaming women for their protection, by inches missing receiving a kicking from skinheads in brown suede jackets. By the time we all ended up back in Crewe their faces were cut and bruised, and my Irish scarf was never more hidden.'