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Published: 12 Nov 2000


by Red Kelly

The Infiltrators are a group of urban explorers. They are not your normal, run-of-the-mill towny types though. They are people who baulk the system, who do not follow the normal guidelines laid down by the establishment. They explore where they are not supposed to. Underground storage areas, disused subway systems and rooftops are all part of their domain. They do not vandalise, or pilfer - they go where the general public are not supposed to go, out of curiosity. They are explorers in the fullest sense of the word. They are seeking a REAL experience - one which hasn't been contrived and designed by those in control - sanitised by normality and homogenised for the masses. They are individuals with likes and dislikes and individuals who enjoy the freedom of choice.

They do this because they want to experience in a different way - their own way. They want to experience what the vast majority of general public do not. They are of the opinion that as long as they respect wherever they go, there should be no restriction. However, the powers that be, for whatever reason, have decided that the areas the Infiltrators wish to explore, should be out of bounds. The rules are set for the majority and inconsiderate of the minority. There are occasional safety issues to contend with, but apart from that, there is often little reason why the exploration of these areas should not take place.

Maybe at first glance this doesn't sound as though it has anything to do with football. But just as the Infiltrators have an unquenchable desire to explore the un-chartered urban cityscape, so do we desire to make similar choices within football. Whether we will be allowed to continue to do so is debateable.

In the sanitised world of the modern-day game I would be considered an Infiltrator! The establishment, or those who rule football, dictate what we can and cannot do. I know there have to be rules that govern the game - even rules that govern supporters - but do they have to be so all pervasive? Infiltrators appreciate the more authentic - the natural state, they do not desire the planned experience. In other words, they prefer to travel alone, or with a small group of friends, rather than on an organised trip. They would choose the personal tour over the one arranged and designed for the masses. And make their own way into Europe rather than fly with the club. Infiltrators, in this sense of the word, go where they want and do what they want.

It's ironic that football, which used to be "the peoples' game", has been infiltrated by those who don't understand what it's like to support a team, but who now run it. And that people like myself, who have been involved with the game for donkey's years, have now become the Infiltrators. They have taken over "our" game, homogenised it, packaged it, and delivered it to our doorstep. Thinking and acting for ones-self has become anathema. You are not allowed to exercise personal judgement. You are supposed to conform to almost automaton excess. Sanitisation - not sanity, prevails.

The effect of all this mass control is now being felt. Visible aggression is there for all to see. There is dissent everywhere you go and it manifests itself in various forms. The most abhorrent of which is the latest wave of violence. It may be society as a whole which has provoked an excuse for such behaviour, or it may be the reaction to the destruction of freedom within football. The freedom to police oneself - to sing, to shout, to stand and to create atmosphere which influences. Gradually this freedom has been taken from us and some of us don't like it. Now we are told what to do and when to do it. Herded from place to place and conducted by the baton wielding authorities. In the face of such violence, the freedom to move around and explore - to stand with rival supporters in a bar, before and after a game, could soon be a thing of the past.

The urban Infiltrators use the word "respect". They respect the areas they choose to visit. They do no damage - leave everything untouched - as it was. Those of us who are the new Infiltrators of football, should surely exercise the same judgement. It is through respect for the opposition environment, and not through violence, that we will retain the right to be individuals and be allowed to express our feelings with passion and dignity.

Red Kelly

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