“Arrrghh ! I’ve broke my fucking leg !”
He lay there clutching his leg, which was now distorted and looking almost remote from his body.
In those early days Brown was a skinhead, more precisely the quintessential ‘bovver’ boy, with a short haircut, suspenders, turned-up Levis, and hobnailed boots made just right for kicking. Brown and his mates eschewed rock and folk music in favor of reggae and Caribbean music. Among his favorite songs was the ‘Skinhead Anthem’, ‘Skinhead Moonstomp’ by Symarip, and ‘The Liquidator’ by the Harry J. All Stars
As for the aggro……despite his youth, Brown set out to be a valued member of the hard-core Rovers fans, standing beside them during confrontations in the street, and on the pitch, both Home, and Away. Even when they were outnumbered by rival supporters, the Rovers fans gave as good as they got, often coming away from combat clutching prized booty: the scarves in team colors carried by their victims.
The aftermath of battle lay all around: bloodied bodies, scarves, shoes and youngsters crying. Did I feel sorry for them …? Did I fuck, should have gone in the enclosure with your old man, shouldn’t you ? Besides, he’ll be doing the same to us in a few year’s time no doubt.
As Brown relates, he and his friends were ever-conscious of their personal clothing style, spending much of their hard-earned money in an effort to stay abreast of the latest fashions, some of which could change within the span of just a few months (or less !).
One of the more entertaining features of ‘Bovver’ is its meticulous overview of the songs that served as the soundtrack to the activities of Brown and his friends during the decade. There are a host of bands and singles mentioned in the book that I was unfamiliar with, and some of these tracks deserve investigating.
That evening, at the Bristol Exhibition Centre, Brown and friends took in a great Punk / New Wave concert: opening acts Richard Hell and the Voidoids, followed by……the Clash ! Both bands put on great shows to the jam-packed mass within the Centre.
After the concert, on the street outside the Centre, Brown and the Rovers fans found themselves facing off with a large contingent of Bristol City fans in the mood for violence. The opposing forces met in a melee that rapidly involved nearby pub-goers and concert attendees, and turned into, in Brown’s words, a ‘full-blown riot’.
The final chapters of the book take on a melancholy note, as the advent of 1978 saw the UK economy collapse even further, and the entropy-laden nature of life in Albion drove more and more of its populace – including Brown – into a sort of sustained depression that no amount of drink or violence or music could dissipate. A trip to the US, which Brown undertook with the goal of perhaps resettling in the States, turned out to be a disappointment, as Brown was unable to handle the insipid music landscape of the US, with its Grease soundtrack and disco over-exposure.