|One of the ironies of football in the 90s is that as hooliganism has apparently withered, helping to pave the way for the game's economic boom, books about it have been as lucrative and successful as Manchester United.
In recent years ex-hooligans have cashed in with numerous tomes, generally recounting with some nostalgia the riots and rucks of the 70s and 80s.
Martin King, one of Chelsea's violent devotees for 20 years, has already followed in the footsteps of Colin Ward and the Brimson brothers with one bestseller recalling his vicious past, Hoolifan.
In The Naughty Nineties he is re-united with co-writer and fellow Chelsea fan Martin Knight for more recollections of warring mobs, smashed-up pubs and mobile rucks on the London Underground.
Despite its title, many of the recollections date from before the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 fans died, and the revolution in policing and stadia safety which it ushered in.
In fact, it's often hard pinpoint any firm date for most of the tales King tells as he avoids specifics, even specific seasons, in favour of glass-smashing, punch-throwing, often blood-flowing action.
For anyone who has read any of the similar hooligan diaries, the style will be familiar: chapters about fights with "crews" from various other clubs, told in often explicit detail and extreme language.
King deploys a well-trodden defence of hooliganism: that the "crews" only confronted other willing pugilists. But he also reveals the reality in several episodes in which innocent fans and bystanders became victims.
His other sporadic attempts at analysing or explaining hooliganism are sometimes equally contradictory--for example he both blames the media for exaggerating the extent of hooliganism and also deliberately underestimating it.
But no-one has ever bought a book by an ex-hooligan for its thoughtful insight. Instead the public relies on the likes of King, and his former partners-in-crime, to report from the frontline of a phenomenon which has been, to a large extent, at least driven away from the sport and its stadia. And on those terms at least King can claim another result. --Nick Varley