By Rory Reynolds
ONE of Scotland’s most violent football casuals has claimed that his thuggish behaviour has been good for the game.
Andy Blance – who has served jail time for a horrific axe attack – reckons that the streets are safer on match-days because hooligans’ violence attracted more attention from cops.
The 42-year-old, a former leader of the infamous Capital City Service gang, claims police should spend more time hunting other offenders than dealing with hooligans.
And, he said, officers ENJOY the running battles they have to police because they see it as a game.
Last night the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (ACPOS) reacted angrily to the claims, slamming Blance’s comments as “ludicrous”.
And a senior justice politician blasted his “bizarre” logic adding that increased police presence had made terraces safer – not brawling thugs.
Blance said: “I honestly think we had a positive impact on the game.
“It made grounds far safer places for normal people to go, because there were so many police brought in and the casuals had to find somewhere else to go to fight.
“Joe Bloggs in the street was safe because we were all somewhere else.
“A lot of people would have to admit that the casuals made it safer for normal fans to actually go to the game.
“It meant people could walk down the road to the game and no-one would bother them.
“We were fighting people that wanted to fight us.
“There are a lot worse people in the world than football hooligans, there are rapists and murderers out there – but football hooligans get all the attention.
“Undoubtedly the police could spend their time and money much better than worrying about football hooligans.”
Blance was jailed for five years in 1991 after a horrific axe attack on a pub bouncer in Dunfermline.
The former bouncer has a criminal record with more than 50 offences.
After being released from prison Blance went back to battling rival firms with the CCS.
He insists that violence between rival club firms – often nearer to pitched street battles than brawls – is just a game, which even the police enjoy taking part in.
Blance said: “At the time it was the thing to do – it was like how in the sixties there were mods and rockers, in the seventies there were skinheads and punks.
“In the eighties all that stuff was part of the culture, I was at an age to get into it – so I did.
“It was a buzz – it was a gang of guys fighting another gang of guys and it was about adrenaline and excitement.”
“It was all a game, we all knew what we were doing – even the police regarded it as a game.
“They liked nothing better than running at us all with their batons.
“It was cat and mouse – and they loved it too.”
But a spokesman for the ACPOS said: “The comments made in this book bear no relation to the true position with regard to the policing of football in Scotland.
“Police are deployed at football matches and in the surrounding areas simply to ensure public order and when a match passes off peacefully that is considered a successful operation.
“No officer would derive any benefit or pleasure from having to deal with disorder or hooligan behaviour. To say that hooligan behaviour somehow enhances the experience of football is, frankly, ludicrous.”
Bill Aitken MSP, Justice Spokesman for Scottish Conservatives, slammed Blance’s claims about police.
He said: “This mans logic is bizarre – I do not think for a moment that police officers enjoy putting themselves at risk, albeit armed with a truncheon in order to cope with football thugs.
“The increased police attention to football disturbances in recent years has cut the trouble significantly and allowed decent, normal fans the opportunity to enjoy games in peace.”
Blance insists he’s now just a regular fan, but has recently released a book – called Hibs Boy – charting his experience of two and a half decades of football violence with the CCS.
The book – which launched in April – contains a foreword by best-selling Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh – a friend of Blance’s.