"Wearing the wrong soccer colors in the wrong neighborhood will duly earn you a thorough thumping," which is British-English for "get your ass beaten inside out." "Rival jerseys can be claimed as trophies and brandished at games." Stolen jerseys are a hot commodity in hooligan culture, and, according to Tommy, "It's kind of an egregious mark of Cain to have your shirt or banner forcefully taken from you. And some of the more rabid [fans] have no moral boundaries." They'll happily steal shirts from elderly fans and women, and in case that's unclear, "steal" is a word here meaning "attack a total stranger and tear their clothing off."
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That's why you need the giant tattoo as a backup.
In North America, most fans grow up watching sports on TV, going to live games with their parents, or playing Blades Of Steel on the NES, but for someone like Dougie Brimson, becoming a football fan is closer to being initiated into a gang. "I started when I was about 13 in the early '70s. ... It was like gang culture. The great attraction for us is that it was the first time you do a lot of things. First time you have a proper fight, first time you have a cigarette, first time you have a drink, first time you bad-mouth a policeman."
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