The end of a reign of terror
Headhunters … Terrence Matthews and Jason Marriner By MIKE SULLIVAN, Crime Editor, and ALEX PEAKEPublished: 26th March 2011 The Sun
FOR decades the mere mention of their name struck fear and terror into football fans across the UK and Europe.
They revelled in being the most notorious hooligans on the planet.
They were the Chelsea Headhunters — dishing out their savage brand of football violence on rival fans at grounds across the country in the Seventies and Eighties.
They disappeared from the scene for a number of years following a string of convictions for violence. Then last year the ringleaders coaxed the now middle-aged and pot-bellied brutes out of retirement for one last dust-up.
But yesterday the vile thugs’ 30-year reign of terror was ended once and for all as the last remnants of the ageing, desperate gang were brought to justice following their final brutal clash.
The chance to rekindle the tribal camaraderie and blood-fuelled adrenaline the Headhunters had once lived for presented itself when Championship side Cardiff City were drawn away to Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA Cup on February 13 2010.
The Welsh club’s own hardcore group, the Soul Crew, enjoy a formidable reputation and relished the prospect of invading west London.
In the deluded minds of the Chelsea old guard, getting stuck in to the Cardiff mob was a matter of defending national pride.
The scene that unfolded was a perfect storm of football violence — punch-ups and brick-throwing in broad daylight as terrified families cowered in the carnage.
Marshalling the bloated and blowing Chelsea soldiers that day were Andy “Nightmare” Frain, 46, and Jason Marriner, 43.
Dad-of-three Marriner, of Stevenage, Herts, was yesterday jailed for two years and banned from football grounds for eight years having been found guilty at Isleworth Crown Court of playing a “pivotal role” in organising one of the biggest ever violent clashes between football hooligan “firms”.
He was due to be joined by Frain — who was last seen arriving at court swigging from a bottle of vodka — but his sentencing had to be postponed due to illness. Frain, of Chelmsford, Essex, has pleaded guilty to violent disorder and is due to be sentenced later.
Frain and Marriner have previously been jailed for seven and six years respectively in 2000 after being secretly filmed plotting violence during a BBC programme by investigative reporter Donal MacIntyre. Frain discussed his involvement with the neo-Nazi group Combat 18 while Marriner had close links to Ulster loyalists.
Andy ‘Nightmare’ Frain … last seen at court with vodkaNational Pictures
On Thursday, 13 other Chelsea fans were jailed for offences of violence after the Cardiff game and received sentences of up to two years in jail. One of those was Ian Cutler, a 50-year-old builder from Wednesbury, West Mids, who has football-related convictions for violence dating back to the 1970s. He was seen kicking and punching a man lying on the ground and given 14 months and banned from football grounds for six years.
Judge Martin Edmunds QC told Cutler and other defendants they were “old enough to know better”.
On Monday, Terence Matthews, of Morden, Surrey, and two others pleaded guilty to affray. A judge warned them they face jail when sentenced in May.
A now slimmed-down Matthews, 50, was once accused of being the “Fat Man” who rammed a bottle in a barman’s face at a pub near Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground.
He was jailed for four years for affray in 1986 but, to the outrage of police and victims, was acquitted of the bottle attack. He later served a two-year jail sentence for assaulting a police officer. Det Supt William Lyle of the Metropolitan Police said of the violence on the day of the Cardiff match: “Nothing like it had happened since the 1970s. One heavily pregnant woman in a car became very stressed by fighting hooligans.
“There was CCTV of a father shielding his two children as missiles were thrown over their heads. We were prepared for trouble but nobody could have foreseen that.”
These fresh convictions have ripped the heart out of the Headhunters’ hierarchy who, in their heyday, became infamous for inflicting their own brand of torture.
In their “manor” of London’s trendy King’s Road they would administer the notorious “Chelsea Smile” — so-called because victims’ faces would be SLICED from the edges of the mouth to the ears.
To hurt or even kill the victim, he or SHE would then be STABBED in the stomach so the face would RIP when they screamed.
But with the arrival of all-seater stadiums in the early Nineties, football hooliganism was all but stamped out. The shaven-headed, hate-filled hooligans got older and there was a lack of wannabes waiting to fill their shoes.
In recent years the Headhunters became nothing more than a myth.
The group faded away after MacIntyre’s documentary exposed the remaining hardcore members.
But the cup clash with Cardiff last year proved too much for the now paunchy monsters to turn down. All the old crew were back for the reunion — Nightmare, Marriner and the Fat Man too.
Scene of terror … punch-up in 2010National Pictures
Police insisted on a noon kick-off but the first signs of trouble came in the morning when more than 100 Chelsea yobs marched on North End Road, splitting into two groups with military precision to attack Cardiff coaches.
Smoke bombs went off as the rival hooligans clashed before police took control.
The court heard this week how Chelsea fans then downed up to seven pints of lager and snorted lines of cocaine in pubs as they prepared to face their Welsh enemy after the final whistle.
The thugs jostled on the Fulham Road. A group of Cardiff fans broke away and made their way to the King’s Road, where they were met by the Headhunters.
More than 200 yobs then fought a running battle for the next quarter of an hour, hurling missiles and traffic cones at each other.
Bricks were thrown at police. One officer had his jaw broken and lost four teeth after being hit in the face with a rock.
The police quickly launched Operation Ternhill to identify the thugs and collected hundreds of hours of CCTV footage.
Seventeen hooligans were named to police in just two days last July following an appeal in The Sun.
A total of 96 people have been charged over the riot so far, with more than 60 having already pleaded guilty to offences of affray and violent disorder.
mpuDet Supt Lyle said: “A high number were in their thirties, forties and even their fifties. The oldest one was 55. A lot of them went because they knew there was a high possibility of violence.”
In February this year 27 Cardiff fans received sentences of up to 14 months in jail. A second batch of 18 more were given similar terms.
Brave telly investigator Donal MacIntyre was in court yesterday.
Thugs from the Headhunters firm attacked him and wife Ameera last year in “revenge” for some of their gang being convicted as a result of his 1999 report. A member of the gang James Wild, 47, was later convicted for the attack.
MacIntyre said: “They beat my wife up when she had a brain tumour. I’m here to see justice done. I’ve been running for ten years and now enough is enough.”