When former British police officer Michael Layton took a police posting on the sun-kissed island of Cyprus, he was looking forward to ‘long sandy beaches, blue skies and equally blue seas, sleepy villages, cold beers, and good food’. He found all of those things, but also discovered something sinister: a culture of football violence that exceeded anything he had seen even in the darkest days of the UK game. He was experienced in combating soccer hooliganism but what he discovered in the coming years also shook him to the core. 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. Layton, who led the successful Operation Red Card into Birmingham City hooligans in the late 1980s and was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal, has now written the first-ever historical account of this extraordinary phenomenon. From first-hand knowledge and research, he traces the history of the problem in the Republic of Cyprus, highlighting the most startling incidents, and proposes a series of counter-measures to eradicate the gangs and their thuggery.
‘I read this book some time ago and it was an interesting account about an issue which has spoilt the game for many genuine fans in Cyprus. If you want the facts it’s a must read’