‘Writing – The Journey’ (Blog Post 10) – Mike Layton

When I took a police posting on the sun-kissed island of Cyprus, I was excited by the challenge of policing in a totally new environment as well as looking forward to ‘long sandy beaches, blue skies and equally blue seas, sleepy villages, cold beers, and good food’. I found all of those things, but also discovered something sinister: a culture of football violence that had all the hallmarks of that seen over decades in the UK game. I  was experienced in combating soccer hooliganism but discovered that many of the tactics deployed successfully in the UK were not being effectively promoted in Cyprus. Supporters of the so-called ‘Big Five’ clubs, APOEL, Apollon, AEL, Omonia and Anorthosis, were locked in a series of bitter and enduring rivalries that routinely led to mayhem on match days. Often with radically opposed political affiliations, gangs launched attack after attack on each other, seemingly oblivious to the consequences. Mass brawls, knifings and, most disturbing of all, a number of bomb attacks led to countless injuries and even death. No-one was safe, with players, match officials and police all being routinely targeted. As a result of what I learnt from the media and through speaking to genuine football supporters I decided to write a historical account of this extraordinary phenomenon. From first-hand knowledge and research, I traced the history of the problem in the Republic of Cyprus, highlighting the most startling incidents, and proposing a series of counter-measures to eradicate the gangs and their thuggery. When you are born in Cyprus a number of things are often pre-ordained namely your Christian name, your religion, your party politics and your football team. Cypriots are passionate about the ‘beautiful game’ and its worth reminding people that only a minority are engaged in such activities. That said with a population of less than one million Cypriots in total that’s a minority that the police and the government have a duty to address. ‘Violence in the Sun’ is available as an E Book published by MILO on Amazon and also self-published in paperback format on Amazon UK.  This is a book that makes no distinction about which group of so-called supporters waViolence in the Sun -Cover 2 (1.9.2017)s more to blame – it merely seeks to record the facts and lets the reader make their own mind up. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1521299536/

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