The need for an historical approach The fundamental thesis of this study is that football hooliganism is a social phenomenon which is deeply rooted in two main ways. It is deeply rooted first because, contrary to popular belief, forms of it have been a frequent accompaniment of association football in this country ever since the 1870s and 1880s. the period when the game emerged in a recognizably modern form. The incidence has varied considerably over time, but our finding is that there has never been a period in the history of modern soccer when spectator disorderliness on a greater or lesser scale has been entirely absent from Britain. The second way in which football hooliganism is deeply rooted relates to the strength of commitment of those who, nowadays at least, engage in it most persistently. For them, it is part of a way of life and they cling to it despite all the preventative measures that the football authorities and the government have tried.