A CONTROVERSIAL book which lifts the lid on York's football hooligan culture claiming an infamous city "firm" is still alive and kicking was today condemned.

The York Nomad Society (YNS) is resurging and developing, according to Andy Nicholls and Nick Lowles the authors of Hooligans 2, a book chronicling Britain's football gangs.

The pair also claim that York's rail connections and pleasant city are attractive to "large mobs from other teams".

The book reports that more than 1,000 people have been official members of the YNS since its inception, of which a small proportion was alleged to have been involved in hooligan activities.

But the book, which is published shortly, was condemned by former York police chief John Lacy, who said such titles were often based on "bravado, embellishment and sensationalism".

Hooligans 2 speaks to a number of unnamed former York "lads" and details the history of YNS, which it says has "more similarities to an Italian Ultra group than an English football firm".

It was compiled by Mr Nicholls, a former Category C hooligan (the worst kind) who was a leading figure among violent followers of Everton Football Club, and Mr Lowles, who is an expert on soccer hooliganism.

In 2002, The Press reported how YNS had apparently re-emerged, with a website dedicated to the group posted on the internet.

Former members of the society reacted angrily and cited its fundraising activities, while insisting YNS was wound up more than ten years ago.

But the book claims a "new generation of lads is currently coming through".

It records historical clashes with fans of Macclesfield Town, Doncaster Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and Bury. It also recalls when Sunderland supporters ran on to the Bootham Crescent pitch in 1988 and how Lendal Cellars pub was the scene for a clash between Liverpool and York supporters following an FA Cup tie.

The book also accords "icon status" to City fan Terry Exelby described by the authors as a "terrace legend".

Mr Lacy said: "Books like this are often unhelpful and often based on bravado, embellishment and sensationalism.

"What they don't focus on is the shame they (hooligans) brought on the clubs and the cost of policing which can bring clubs like York City to the verge of extinction.

"They never focus on the many arrests by police, the disruption tactics employed by the police, the facilities put in place by clubs such as CCTV and strong stewarding as well as the many banning orders that are achieved through the courts."

Paul Maloney, responsible for football intelligence at North Yorkshire Police, said there were currently 11 banning orders relating to the Minstermen, with several more in the pipeline.

"We have a system of football intelligence where a team of football spotters go to York City games whether there is a police presence or not and form a picture which is presented to the football club and all the teams they play against," he said.

"It is inevitable that there are hooligans. York City gets new supporters and there are these groups that are formed, whether it is York Nomad Society a name that's often mentioned or something else.

"Football hooliganism has not gone away as far as we are concerned. We treat it very seriously and we respond to the intelligence we receive."

Sophie McGill, York City's director of communications and community, said: "Although there is a small element of our supporters, probably around 20 people, who are known to the police as potential troublemakers, we are pleased to say that in general York City has a very good reputation.

"We are a club which promotes an all-inclusive, family atmosphere and I think our battle for survival over the past few years has really helped to galvanise support and, as a result, a happier club has emerged."

Hooligans 2: The M-Z Of Britain's Football Hooligan Gangs, by Nick Lowles and Andy Nicholls, is available at £14.99 from www.milobooks.com

24 offenders barred from World Cup

IN February, The Press revealed 24 football fans from North Yorkshire had been blocked from travelling to the World Cup tournament currently being held in Germany, as they were subject to football banning orders.

The orders were imposed by courts for offences including violence, public disorder and invading the pitch.

The fans were all aged between 16 and 52, with most in their teens or early 20s.

Of the known offences, two involved violent disorder, two involved public disorder, three involved alcohol offences and one was for a pitch invasion.

Those with orders imposed included:

Matthew Rawcliffe, then 19, of Rowntree Avenue, York, who butted a 15-year-old opposition fan after an FA Cup match between York City and Burton Albion. He was banned from all matches for six years and jailed for three months last year.
Michael Armitage, then 35, of Fossway, York, who was banned from matches for eight years and jailed for four months last year for his part in violence after a match between Leeds United and Cardiff City.
York City fan Geoff Alastair Clapham, then 22, who was given a six-year banning order and jailed for 12 months in 2004 for his part in soccer violence. He was one of a group of York fans who hurled glasses and ashtrays at Doncaster fans in the Golden Lion pub in Church Street, York.

One-legged football fan's shark prank

THE book claims that one of the most renowned members of YNS was Terry Exelby, a one-legged former grocer who followed City and England home and away for 30 years.

Mr Exelby known as XLB among his peers was banned from every football ground in England in 1988, having earlier found national infamy when he became the first Englishman to be arrested at the 1986 World Cup. According to the book: "He got drunk on the plane, wouldn't put his cigarette out, climbed into the overhead lockers, and then assaulted the cabin crew. The plane landed in Texas where he was arrested by the FBI and led off the plane in irons."

The book says one of the most memorable incidents involving Mr Exelby occurred on a City fans' trip to Yugoslavia in 1984.

He went swimming in the sea, before emerging without his fake leg, crying "shark", and prompting widespread panic among the locals on the beach.

York man Terry Ruane, who was on that trip, said: "It was one of the funniest incidents I have ever witnessed and it's a story which I still enjoy telling to this day."

Mr Exelby did not wish to comment when approached by The Press.