Since 1975, when it kicked off so huge with English hooligans in the European match between Antwerp and Aston Villa, the X-Side, which would later become the Antwerp Casual Crew, was founded in the Belgian city of Antwerp.
On this occasion we interview a member of the ACC (Antwerp Casual Crew) for years, one of the best hooligans groups in Belgium, following the Royal Antwerp Football Club. Thanks to El Chavo Del Ocho for his time.
How did you start to get interested in hooliganism and casual culture? How were your first days in the ACC?
I met some guys from a gang who hung around Veemarkt, in Schipperskwartier, the whore quarter, in the center of Antwerp. This was back in 2001. They had brothers and older cousins who belonged to the X-Side and the ACC. Over time, as they matured they also introduced themselves to hooliganism through a subgroup called AF. Over the years, in 2008 we met again and they introduced me. This coincided just with a time when there was a change in my life, as I separated from the organization LK, a Latin American band, by the good. They are kids that I still greet today.
First I started with the AF, my first fight in a ground, my first fight in a forest, my first fine, my first expulsion from the stadiums… This was until 2012, when I decided to form my own group, AL. A group made up of 50% Belgians and 50% foreigners who had a love for the team. A group with Latins, as you can see in other teams like FC Zurich and AIK Stockholm. Spent some time with the kids and having met more people I decided to bring all the groups together. The boys from the Center, AF, AL, independent lads, some boys coming from De Kempen (an area outside Antwerp purely peasant, but with strong and good people to box, those who came from there were always the first line, game lads) and the old ACCs. After a meeting we decided to bring together all the groups under the same name: Antwerp Casual Crew. Each one had his little group but all together we always operated as ACC.
What clothing brands are the most seen in the Bosuilstadion’s terraces?
Practically the same as in the rest of Belgium, Holland and France. Stone Island, CP Company, Adidas… Also ANTWERP, which is the brand that Vier brought to market. VIER X ACC.
What Belgian clothing brands would you highlight? What are your favorite brands?
Belgians, VIER. I’m not really bothered about foreign brands, I use Stone Island, Lee… But also Obey and ultra T-shirts.
In 2014 a collaboration was made between ACC and Vier (clothing store in Antwerp) where a limited number of T-shirts from the group’s archive were released. How relevant was this collaboration?
The first time the collaboration came out a video was made of it and I think they sold it all in a few days. It came out on the news and the newspapers as the store was making success thank to hooligans, which the police and the managers did not like much. It was a success. Also the other collaborations but the first one was strong.
How were the celebrations last month, after the team’s promotion after 13 years out of the first division of Belgian football?
Happy, hopefully the rest of the firms get their shit together next season. BCS, BFC (Bruges), Hell Side, GCF Genk, etc. The problem is that there are a lot of hooligans on the photos and a few real ones… An old man once said to me, “If you do not like waiting, do not be hooligan.” And I waited a lot. We’ll see what happens!
A few years ago the ACC came back after a few years of inactivity. How is the group today? What group-level brotherhoods and friendships exist today?
Well, we are strong, although the police have done a lot of damage after the trouble that happened last year after the loss of the championship against EUPEN. “Many toads came out of the closet” and many fines, many lads have been condemned to months in jail and well… It’s part of the game. Group E. is bearing the name of Antwerp very high and the fights of forest, nationally and internationally. We get along very well with Willem 2 from Tilburg, Millwall and RFC Liege.
How many members does the Antwerp Casual Crew currently comprise? How is the hierarchy within the group?
It can vary between 50 and 300… It depends on the occasion and the opposing team.
There is no hierarchy, there are some leaders but I couldn’t say that we operate like Polish or Russians do.
What has been the biggest confrontation between hooligans that you have lived?
There are a few actually, I do not know… Maybe the biggest was against Mechelen Racing, when we fought RCC lads and the police together.
In Belgium as in other countries, the so-called “hangouts” are on the agenda in forests or remote places. How is it prepared and how does that day go?
They appear now more and more, actually it is prepared well peacefully. With a “good morning” and a “see you in the next” after the showdown. There is no hatred or conflict. The new generation, 5th and E. are bearing the name of Antwerp very high right now. Big ups to all of them.
Describe what you think about these firms:
Brussels Casuals Service: past glory.
Hells Side: strong as always, people of their word.
White Army: no comments.
AFCA: large and strong firm. The only time we had a fight they came out of a cafe with the double numbers than us, carrying sticks, belts, stones, etc. So you cannot trust any of them.
Casuals Enschede: they have good name in forest fights.
SCF: I do not sympathize with them, neither F3R, nor Yoeri Kievits and their leader with his great fantasy.