Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual: hooliganism gave me a way to fit in

He dressed smart, carried a knife and wound up in jail. As his life story hits the stage, Riaz Khan reveals how, in 1980s Britain, soccer violence was very multicultural

It wasn’t so much the violence that attracted Riaz Khan to football hooliganism as the clothes. In the early 1980s, Khan became a casual – a new breed of thug that took pride in wearing the latest designer gear. He was one of the first Asian hooligans to join Leicester City’s Baby Squad, so called because they looked so young.

In 2010, Khan wrote his autobiography, Memoirs of An Asian Football Casual, a fascinating glimpse into a time when the far right was on the march and many politicians were doing their best to sow racial discord. What makes his memoir – which has just been turned into a play – so gripping is its ambivalence. The world it depicts is brutal, brainless, but at times heroic. The gang’s activities are sickening yet they are also a template for a new kind of social integration.

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