Book review: Perry Boys


Mouthy Mancs on the March

Perry Boys : By Ian Hough

First Published : 2007

ISBN 978 1 903854 65 5

Score out of 5 :

It would be easy to dismiss this book as the shrill boasting of your typical mouthy Manc, his big head gorged on the ridiculous success and ubiquity of the behemothic commercial enterprise that is Manchester United Football Club. And on this level you would be 100% correct. But there’s a lot more to this book than that, just let me get the negatives out of the way first.

The very essence of being cool is not having to tell people that you are, in fact, very cool. Unfortunately Ian Hough reminds his reader of how cool he, his fellow Perries, and Manchester (“the best city”) especially, are. In fact he reminds us on every other page. He boasts so much about it he actually begins to sound more like the mythically one-dimensional “arrogant cockney c*nts” he so obviously despises.

But what really got my goat was his placing of the Manchester casuals at the forefront of the genesis of “the Nameless Thing” alongside the late 70’s scousers, the latter being – pre-Hough – universally recognised as the originals by general consensus. I haven’t got a problem with Hough moving the Manc Perries back in time and in size of numbers, if that massages his ego. I do have a problem with him rejecting the rest of the island, telling us they are “divvies” who only caught onto the casual craze in 1983 when the Mancs and scousers became “bored” with the scene and moved on. Evidence suggests otherwise – look at the pictures of the young tearaways on the terraces of Fratton Park in “Rolling With The 6.57 Crew” for instance (supposedly a bastion of southern counties divvies, according to Hough), these boys were in Pringles and trainers in 1980!

It may be a question of numbers, maybe the north west did have a larger contingent of lads versus cavemen, but to say it was exclusive to that area needs to be seen without the red-tainted glasses Ian Hough uses. I had a sneaking suspicion throughout that the author had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he wrote these bits, and possibly the whole book shouldn’t be taken so seriously, but with oodles of heaped up salt instead.

With that caveat dealt with, what about the rest of the book? Hough is an intelligent, quirky writer. His stream of consciousness style reminded me of the Gonzo narrative of the late, great Hunter S, or even Michael Herr. For that reason alone this book scores 4 stars (or Casses). I enjoyed his spiel, his cross-referencing Darwinism, molecular biology etc, is a welcome remove from the standard “train-pub-tear up” hoolie memoir. The best bits of the book are when he describes the Manchester of his youth, you can almost smell the sooty, damp streets of Salford. Likewise his tales of travelling and high jinks in such places as the US, Oz and Israel. It’s when he goes into bragging mode that the book loses focus.

All in all, it’s a decent stab at describing the Manchester section of the early casual movement, I enjoyed it immensely and read it in a couple of days. If you’re a cockney you’ll have to bite your lip when reading this, but it’s only banter, even if it is laid on a bit thickly.


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3 Responses to “Book review: Perry Boys”

  1. Town Boy Says:

    Try “Perry Boys Abroad” it’s better.

    Could have swore he sez ’79 was when mancs got into it, but mickeys got into it in ’77.

    where’s the problem with that?

  2. The Hovian Says:

    Thanks for the comment

    I will read “Perry Boys Abroad” very soon, Hough has something other chroniclers of this era haven’t – a great style. As for the problem – there isn’t one, but in 1979 I’m sure not every teenage football fan outside of the west M62 area was a christmas tree skinhead. No group of people is so homogeneous

    As I said, it’s probably a case of numbers and influence, but the Perries were only wearing the next fashion after flares and big collars died the death. I can remember the pseudo-mods, punks and skins, albeit I was still in junior school in 1979 – I can also remember ordinary lads, not even footy types, cutting about in jumpers, straight-leg jeans, and trainers, with nice cleanly-cut wedges – and I never grew up in Manchester.


  3. Town Boy Says:

    and you accuse me – sorry, him – of “dragging the timeline back”???

    Come on, let’s be honest; there’s a huge difference between Mod/Ska and what some people called “Perry” or “Scally” in the northwest. They were not interchangeable, never.

    Leeds, Sheffield, parts of Cheshire and Lancashire, those were the obvious contenders for the bleeding out process to reach first, plus the utterly anomalous Tottenham Hotspur. I’ll leave you with this, from the late-70s, and bid you a good day, for now, Hovian…

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