When we talk about crowd violence involving FC Bruges
fans, we have to make a big step backwards in time. Already in 1908, there were some
troubles after the game
FC Bruges - R Antwerp FC. Riots in which fans of both teams found themselves fighting each other. And although the local mayor wanted to ban soccer in that time, it was still to soon to talk about hooliganism in the way like we know it today.
Formation Of The "Side"
Although the popular "Spion Kop" was formed by local students, somewhere in the early sixties (at the old stadium "De Klokke"), the East-Side was formed around the 1980's. This happened after visits of foreign sets of supporters during a two-days summer tournement called "De Brugse Metten". The side was formed by some right-winged youths from the nearby city of Ghent, the so-called "East-End". This group managed to bann the old singing Kop and to have taken in their stands. Some other sources then again, claim that the side was formed by extremely right-winged, military persons. The name "East-Side" would just refer to the stand where these persons took place during the games.
The look of the first generation Bruges hooligans was very simple and easy to recognize: battle dress, shaved/bald heads, army boots, etc. weather or not carrying iron chains and baseballbats. A belgian magazine "Panorama" once called them "the craziest fans of Belgium" together with some pictures of East-Siders in action. The group managed build a reputation of being extremely dangerous, that the management of the team had to distance theirselves more and more from the actions of their violent following.
Around 82-83 a second generation of fans was formed. Because of the fact that riots on the terraces where more and more evolving, sides began to recrute youths from local gangs. Youths who found an exellent place in soccer stadiums, to execute their actions, replacing the city's early ganglife towards the stadium. This example was followed everywhere in Belgium, and so a new competition, the one between the fans, was born.
And so the riot tradition continued throughout the eighties, climaxing in a memorable game between FC Bruges and Anderlecht on January 29th 1984. When the Anderlecht goali, Jackie Munaron, took place in his goal, a smokebomb trown from on of the Bruges stands, exploded just next to him and a dart was trown in his direction. But this was just the beginning: a whole arsenal of weapons where taken by the police, from baseball bats to knives and iron bars. Still this measure couldn't prevent incidents before, during and after the game in which lots of people found themselves wounded and the material damage was huge. This action was the direct reason for the first ever hooligans measurements in Belgium. Together with the belgian police, the FC Bruges management banned hundreds of hooligans from the Olympia-stadium, resulting in furious East-Siders who exposed their anger by threatening various people. Some managers of the team were even sent death-threats.
The Glory Years
The banned siders where allowed back into the stadium in the second half of the eighties, resulting in the side's glory years. FC Bruges was now playing European football almost every year, giving the East-Side the chance building up a strong reputation throughout Europe.
Friendships where made with the FC Den Haag hooligans from Holland, a friendship which resulted in a nice co-operation (which is still going on as we speak). In 1989 heavy incidents errupt at the FC Twente - FC Brugge game. But also during belgian league matches, the North-Side of Den Haag where present, especially at the features with Antwerp, Anderlecht and Standard. The East-Siders followed Den Haag during their games against Ajax and Feyenoord, games in which riots occured between Bruges and Den Haag hooligans on one side, and Ajax and Feyenoord followers on the other side.
Thé climax in the co-operation was at a game vs ST
Truiden. A game which offered
FC Bruges the championship on May 5th 1990. During the post-game riots the police where attacked with glasses, pool-balls, wrecked crosses from a nearby cemetary and even, a police van was set on fire.
It was in this time, a new group found its birth: the Bruges Hooligans Organisation, shortly B.H.O. This new group, which also publiced their own hoolzine, recruted the hard core of the East-Side and builded up a strong reputation in their short existance. A short existance, because they were seperated by court, some time later.
The nineties saw the formation of a new group, the Bruges Casuals. Following the British example of wearing the latest fashion without any scarves or club colours.
In 1992, FC Bruges where almost expelled from playing
european football, after heavy riots at a semi-final game vs the German side of Werder
Bremen. Already in the afternoon there were clashes in the city centre, with shops being
robbed. But it was during the game, when a german fan was heavily wounded after being hit
by fireworks coming from one of the belgian stands. Also after the game, the fights went
on. Everything or anything German found itself attacked including the German police.
Shortly after, the Uefa punished
FC Bruges who now had to play its next game at 150 km distance together with a money penalties of about 1.2 million Belgian Francs (or 30.000 $).
The next season violence occured at Champions League games, at home against Glasgow Rangers and during the away-game vs Olympique Marseille. Now the Bruges fans weren't allowe to travel abroad for the rest of the season.
Another climax in the "Bruges European-Tour" came at February 15th 1995, when Chelsea came down for a European Cup Winners tie. Things already got hectic during the week-end before, with about 3.000 English fans coming to Bruges. Before the game, fights broke out around the stadium and in front of the home fan's pubs, fights in which one Bruges fan got stabbed. After the game, violence again broke out in the area around the stadium. These riots where so heavy, they were broadcosted on C.N.N.
At the end of the nineties, the side is developping into the future. Hooligans more and more starting to use cellular phones and the internet, and the transers are made at the most unsuspicious ways possible.
In the beginning of 1998 a heavy fight, which was planned weeks in advance, errupted between some 200 lads of Bruges and some 150 boys from the Antwerp Casual Crew. The battle, which was fought in a nearby forest, lasted for about 15 minutes leaving the police totally surprised. At this fight there were some French hooligans from O.S.C. Lille present, a group lads which are friends with the Bruges casuals.
That same year heavy riots broke out at the championship game against Anderlecht, the cupfinal vs Genk and in two European fixtures. One Uefa tie in Bochum and one friendly game vs Ajax.
At this moment the hard core of the hooligan element of the FC Bruges following, exists of a fixed group of about 120 to 150 casuals. A number which can grow to about 300 people during important games or games with a high factor of risk. From the 1999-2000 season the group now identifies under the name Bruges Casual Firm.