FOOTBALL hooliganism was once so rife in Britain that it was known as "the English disease" — with weekly clashes outside grounds and fences put up to separate bloodthirsty thugs from the pitch.
And 50 years on from its peak in the 1970s, violence from footie gangs has once again reared its head, with yobs attacking a Manchester United executive's home last week.
A mob of around 20 hooded goons from the Men In Black firm lobbed flares over the gates of Ed Woodward's £2million home.
Thankfully, it's thought Woodward, his wife Isabelle, and their twin six-year-old girls weren't home during the terrifying incident.
“Woodward has been a disaster as chief executive and needs to leave the club," a source told The Sun. “So we decided to pay him a visit to tell him to his face."
"We didn’t get to speak to him but hopefully he’ll get the message because we’re not going away and we won’t stand around doing nothing while our club is ruined.”
The Men In Black are just one of dozens of notorious football firms still active — and the shocking number of football-related attacks recorded in recent months shows how a new generation are threatening to drag Britain back to the bad old days.
New football banning orders increased by 19 per cent last season, with a total of 1,771 in place across England and Wales.
And there were 1,381 football-related arrests, along with a 47 per cent rise in reported hate crimes to 193.
Meanwhile, supporter drug use incidents reported at football fixtures increased by nearly a quarter.
Over the past two seasons, incidents reported are at more than 1,000 fixtures, and worryingly, this is becoming the new normalityMark Roberts
And arrests made by British Transport Police related to football increased by 28 per cent, indicating that hooligan trouble isn't just contained inside and around stadiums.
"Home Office statistics show football disorder remains at concerning levels – over the past two seasons, incidents reported are at more than 1,000 fixtures, and worryingly, this is becoming the new normality," said Detective Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chief's Council Football Policing Lead.
"Interestingly, higher levels of disorder are being seen in the lower leagues, and this could be attributed to the fact there is often a reduced police presence."
So who are these firms, and which gang is the worst? We take a look at their dark histories - and the havoc they're still wreaking today.
Drug-smuggling crime syndicate
Firm: The Red Army
Club: Manchester United
The Men In Black is just one name given to the factions of hooligans who support Manchester United — with the larger collective being known more broadly as the Red Army.
One of the subgroups of the Red Army called the Inter City Jibbers has notoriously been linked with extremely serious crimes like drug smuggling and armed robbery.
In its heyday, the hooligans were famed for violent clashes all over the country, when fences first started going up to prevent pitch invasions.
But they've also been involved in serious fighting in recent years.
In 2007, cops were so anxious for travelling Manchester United hooligans to avoid Ponte Duca D’Aosta in Rome — where Roma ultras meet — they made a map pointing out exactly where the bridge was so they could avoid it.
But around 300 Red Army thugs then used the map to find their way there and intense fighting broke out, with one fan reportedly having a set of ladders thrown at him.
And there's even ties between legendary club players and Manchester United hooligans.
In 2017, it was revealed that Tony O'Neill, who was a member of the Red Army, was working at a hotel owned by Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs opposite Old Trafford.
Notorious O'Neill has previously been jailed three times for football-related violence and survived being shot in the stomach in a pub in 2004.
Faces carved with Stanley knives
The Millwall Bushwackers are arguably the most well-known firm in Britain.
Originally called F-Troop, the Bushwackers have been associated with extreme hooligan brutality.
In 1965, a hand grenade was thrown on the pitch from the Millwall end in a match against Brentford — which thankfully turned out to be a dud.
But even in more recent years, the club has been tarnished by its fans' ferocity.
In 2001, 250 Millwall hooligans stormed The Feathers pub where Wolverhampton's Subway Army were drinking and slashed their rivals in the face with Stanley knives.
And then just a year later, 47 cops and 24 police horses were injured when hooligans turned violent after Millwall lost a game against Birmingham City — the Metropolitan Police considered suing Millwall FC as a result.
Dragons' Den mogul Theo Paphitis, who was the club's chairman at the time, said: "The problem of mob violence is not solely a Millwall problem, it is not a football problem, it is a problem which plagues the whole of society."
The club introduced a membership scheme in the aftermath so that only fans with member cards were allowed to enter Millwall's ground, The Den.
But even in 2009, the firm was involved in the Upton Park riot when Millwall clashed with rivals West Ham at the latter's stadium.
The scale of the bloodshed, in which bottles and bricks were thrown, indicated that fights were probably prearranged — one fan was even stabbed.
And just last year, Everton fan Jay Burns suffered a "horrific, life-changing injury" when he was slashed in the face by a knife-wielding Millwall hooligan before an FA Cup match in London.
'Despicable' stadium destruction
Firm: Naughty 40
Club: Stoke City
Last season, Home Office figures showed Stoke City fans were the most arrested of any club in the country, with 80 supporters handcuffed in 2018-19.
That ignoble record has its roots in the club's notorious firm, the Naughty 40.
At its height, the gang had more than 700 members and a fierce reputation for fighting before, during and after games.
But one of the darkest episodes in the club's history came just two years ago during an under-21s game in the Checkatrade Trophy match between Stoke City and local rivals Port Vale.
On December 4, 2018 vicious fighting broke out in the streets around the game and inside the stadium fans ripped out the seats and threw them at cops.
Over 150 police officers were sent to battle the mob in and around Vale Park, where officers were also being targeted with coins and flares.
One group of yobs even filmed themselves smashing up the ground's toilets and throwing sinks through windows.
Afterwards, Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones of Staffordshire police condemned the "despicable behaviour by a large number of fans".
But there were fears of hooligan trouble before the season even kicked off.
A member of the Naughty 40 warned members on Facebook against sharing incriminating evidence of their thuggish activities.
"We ain't here to help plod are we... Let's have a good and interesting season... And keep it tight," the menacing message read.
Blinded by concrete missile
Firm: The Zulu Warriors
Club: Birmingham City
The Zulu Warriors follow Birmingham City — hence their ferocious rivalry with the hooligans backing Birmingham's other big club, Aston Villa.
Their name comes from the fact that they were an ethnically diverse firm at a time when most others were full of mostly white members, many of whom had links to the far-right.
The Zulus were seen as such a menace in the late 1980s that West Midlands Police launched an undercover investigation into them called Operation Red Card.
Detective Sergeant Michael Layton, who worked in the operation, said the hooligans would chant "Zulu, Zulu, Zulu" before their match day bloodshed.
But he says the thugs are still a problem today.
"CCTV in grounds and the introduction of new legislation around banning orders has had a positive effect, but I have no doubt there are still organised, quite determined groups of individuals who enjoy nothing more than the thought of confronting their 'opponents' in a battle because for them is a tribalistic affair and it is about winning,", he told the Birmingham Mail.
"You have grounds in the lower leagues where there is frequently no police presence and a limited stewarding presence," Layton added.
As recently as 2007, a steward at a Cardiff City was blinded in one eye when he was hit in the face by a lump of concrete thrown by Birmingham City hooligans.
And in the 2017-18 season, Birmingham City fans were the worst behaved in the country clocking 95 arrests.
Neo-Nazi attacks on foreigners
The Chelsea Headhunters were most prominent in the 1980s and 1990s and sported ties with neo-Nazi terror groups like Combat 18 and even the KKK.
Arguably the most notorious incident involving the Headhunters came when an American bar manager was severely beaten following a Chelsea defeat.
High profile firm member Kevin Whitton was jailed for his part in the attack in 1985, with fellow thug Terry Matthews locked up for his involvement the following year.
Headhunter yobs were said to have stormed the pub shouting "War! War! War!" and, "You bloody Americans, coming here taking our jobs!"
Matthews was back in the news in 2002 when he and his 21-year-old son William were jailed for savagely beating up two police officers when the cops tried to stop William urinating on a police station in Surrey.
But even more recently, Headhunters were among the 300 hooligans who smashed up shops and cafes in Paris in 2014.
They flew over to take part in pre-arranged fights with Paris St. Germain yobs as their teams clashed in the Champions League.
The English hooligans were seen making Nazi salutes and chanting racist songs in the French capital, a year before Chelsea fans were filmed shoving a black man off a train on the Paris Metro.
And in 2018, pictures were posted on social media of a Chelsea Headhunters flag being displayed by fans in Budapest.
Along with the firm's name, the flag featured the SS-Totenkopf skull — a symbol used by the Nazi officers who ran concentration camps.
Forever sowing trouble
Firm: The Inter City Firm
Club: West Ham United
It wasn't just Millwall fans sparking violence at Upton Park — but West Ham hooligans too.
The Inter City Firm is the Hammers' best-known gang, named after the trains on which they travelled to away games.
Big between the 1970s and 1990s, the ICF have been involved in many dangerous scrapes with other London club firms.
As dramatised in the 2007 film Rise of the Footsoldier, the ICF were known to leave calling cards on their victims' battered bodies reading: "Congratulations, you have just met the ICF".
The group inspired several fictionalised hooligan gangs including in the 1988 Gary Oldman film, The Firm, and the 2005 Elijah Wood movie Green Street.
Cass Pennant, who was a general of the ICF, has published several books about his time in the firm — he survived being shot three times in a feud with another football gang.
He began his autobiography by saying that he had "been involved in more violence than most people will experience in a hundred lifetimes."
"I've been shot, I've been stabbed and I've dished it out.
"My favourite weapons were my fists, the axe and Uncle Stan - my trusty Stanley knife."
The ICF reared its ugly head again in 2018 when a West Ham supporters' group threatened another with violence.
Real West Ham Fans — which has former ICF hooligan Andy Swallow as a founding member — had an abusive message aimed at another fan group on its Facebook page.
"All your left wing f***s you ain't passing through out manor," the message reportedly read.
"The ICF won't allow it — don't cross us."
Teen death in mass brawl
Firm: The Service Crew
Club: Leeds United
At the height of hooliganism, the Leeds United Service Crew made a name for themselves as one of the most savage firms in Britain.
Leeds became the first English team to be banned from a European competition when, in 1975, the club's fans went berserk during the European Cup Final against Bayern Munich in Paris.
Reacting to a string of perceived refereeing injustices, the Leeds section of the stadium erupted into a riot, ripping chairs out of the stands and throwing them in protest.
The helicoptering seats led to a German TV operator losing an eye and a photographer having their arm broken.
A decade later, a 15-year-old boy, Ian Hambridge, died at Birmingham City's St Andrew's ground when a 12ft wall collapsed on him during riotous fighting between Leeds and Birmingham hooligans.
Ninety-six police officers were also injured trying to stop the mayhem, which was later described by a judge as more like "the Battle of Agincourt than a football match".
And in 2007, around 200 Leeds hooligans charged the pitch in a home game against Ipswich.
About half of them charged towards the opposing team's fans — 13 Leeds fans ended up with football banning orders totalling 45 years for the charge.
But trouble still flares up at Elland Road, which was the club with the second highest amount of supporters arrested last season (49).