Steve Parcell
Steve Parcell asked:

Do you really believe Bill Burford infiltrated these firms? I have it on very good authority nobody had ever heard of him and this book is all hearsay and based on stories told to him or through other books. Discuss?

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Blake I really don't see him an infiltrator of any sort. He may have been present for a few grisly scenes but he never does more than run to keep up and then watch with wide eyes, immune from the carnage only because he visually appears to be a fellow supporter.

He's also very sincere with himself and his subjects. Most of the people who spoke to him seem to have done so under some level of anonymity, intentionally keeping their distance, and yet he never represents himself as anything but an interested third party to them - most want him around specifically because they believe he might help them bolster their reputations.

It might be different were he acting like he was some kind of official firm member, or spun a yarn about plunging a broken bottle into the face of a Italian police officer. He isn't self-aggrandizing at all, anywhere - if anything he represents himself as somewhat cowardly, doubtful, and confused by his own motivations before deciding entirely that the scene isn't worth the trouble, and greater insights aren't to be had by spending further time in it.
Owen K Salman Rushdie wrote in his memoirs that he saw his friend Burford (sic) on the news in the centre of a throng of them shortly before getting the tar kicked out of him by Italian police during the 1990 World Cup, there's some hearsay about a televised sports event for you, for what it's worth. I find it curious the idea that book might have been written through secondhand sources, especially since he wasn't even in a position to "infiltrate" through typical subterfuge; being a lanky American writer, he had to present himself as just that. He did report certain things that might be embarrassing to a hyper-masculine I'm-hard culture, such as the dancefloor pogo session with all their girlfriends standing to the side watching uncomfortably - which could account for the never-heard-of-him (pure speculation on my part there).

Steve Parcell Never. All his accounts are second and third hand information. They would never have allowed an American to infilitrate their ranks so easily. The book reflects the fact he was nowhere near any of the incidents he "saw".
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