‘You don’t have to be weird to be wired
You don’t have to be an American brand
You don’t have to be strange to be strange
You don’t have to be weird to be weird’ (The Fall – Totally Wired)
Essentially, what is it like to be a Hawks Ultra for 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon? What is it, that is different between Whitehawk F.C and the sanitized league football? How is it something that cannot be branded and sold off?
The Hawks Ultras appear as an accepting, punk community that screams and wails, bangs and pounds and yells to be heard – for the purpose to be different, for the necessity to be colourful, progressive and experimental in this struggling age of a football fan.
Being in the Hawks Ultras feels like being part of a ticking time bomb, an odd, strange and deluded part of your personality is touched upon for 90 minutes of a football game. It begins with the walk there, and ends with the stumble out. To be part of this colourful group of characters is to accept and understand the self-destruction which is nourished within this specific group of people, it offers a total escape for many of us, away from the working week, away from the monotonous, dreary league football which poses no release but rather incarceration within a plastic stand, surrounded by plastic beer and what is proposed to be plastic noise. Due to the lack of atmosphere at Premier League games, teams such as Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal are now discussing the prospect of injecting ‘fake atmosphere’ into football games, essentially the stadium noise of Fifa 15.
The Hawks Ultras, to the people involved means many different things. To me personally, it stands for freedom, community and a right to express the more bizarre aspects of your personality and allow them to run wild. It allows you to be a creative, it allows you to thrive and ping around as a movement and gang within a stale, toxic footballing environment.
Within the group we have the town crier figure: Mick Foote. The man who brings half of GAK with him; an array of drums, kazoos, air raid sirens and trumpets – there is method behind the madness occasionally, a steady beat and a pounding rhythm. This is best experienced down The Din end, supping back a gorgeous pint of John Smiths whilst bashing ten shades out of the corrugated iron wall. There is a section that expresses the lyricism and wit of Nick Cave, transforming your 80s classics into chants about Jake Robinson, Tom Cadmore and David Ijiah. Each song as unique and exquisite as the other. Furthermore, what the Ultras stand for is diversity. The flags that fly high above the Sea End (normally and hopefully in the first half) represent a vast array of different identities, from homosexuality to transgender and more; these gigantic flags give the impression of Glastonbury which I’m sure you can catch on the BBC this Summer. These huge flags add to the euphoria which is generated by the Hawks Ultras, the experience down that end is something of a festival nature. This adding to the uniqueness of the particular occasion.
The diversity and accepting nature of the Hawks Ultras is what initially drew me to the group. There is no sense of clique, sense of dismissal or sense of pecking order; there is a mutual understanding that everyone is as relevant as eachother. In the past when these groups form, be in football or any other culture, there instantly appears a cliqueness about the whole thing, a fad that suggests you are always an outsider unless you were a founder. Here is a case of standing, singing, banging and shouting, those are not even the requirements. Those are just the impulses.
To be a Hawks Ultra and to be involved is not only a privilege, it is a sense of well being and community. Something that you can long for when you’re such a long way from home. You do not have to be weird to be wired in this case, generally it will bite you when you least expect it.