Updated with new photographs. Colin Blaney's "Grafters", originally published in 2004, was a ground-breaking expose of the links between criminal gangs and football hooliganism. In the intervening period the book and the phrase have become part of the lexicon, defining a generation of professional thieves who used the cover of their fellow football fans to earn a fortune.
Eight years on author Colin Blaney returns with an updated version of his criminal memoirs and recounts his experiences as a personality in the murky media world that accompanies public relations -- principally his shady dealings with tabloid journalists, TV producers and researchers. In Colin's words he was thrown in at the deep end to "Swim with the sharks". It's all a far cry from Colin's adolescence in the council fl ats of North Manchester. As a child he burgled warehouses and factories. As a youth he joined the bootboys of Manchester United's Red Army, rampaging across the country. As an adult he learned to dip with the Scouse pickpocket gangs, sell dope to Rastas in the Moss Side shebeens and sneak-thieve from shop tills with his mad Collyhurst crew.
But Continental Europe offered the greatest lure. The gang moved to Amsterdam which became their HQ for the next twenty years. They stole Rolex watches in Switzerland, peddled Ecstasy in Spain, kited credit cards in Belgium, flogged bootleg tee-shirts in France and snatched designer clothes in Holland. Blaney and his Wide Awake Frim served time in half the jails in Europe and then went back for more. They were on a riotous, non stop roller-coaster ride -- until they finally hit the buffers.
Colin Blaney was a grafter, a wired-up, beat-down, real-life version of Kerouacs's Dean Moriarty. He set out from the decrepit council flats of east Manchester on a mission - to burn, burn, burn through a world of sex, booze, scams and good times. As a child he burgled warehouses and factories. As a youth he joined the bootboys of Manchester United's Red Army as they rampaged through the country. As an adult he learned to 'dip' with the Scouse pickpocket gangs, to sell drugs to Rastas in Moss Side shebeens, to sneak-thieve from tills and jewellery stores with his mad Collyhurst crew. But Europe offered the greatest lure. 'We started to buy Inter-Rails. These were for students but we knew a girl in the travel office who sorted us out. They cost [pound]60 and you could travel anywhere for four weeks...' Soon he was scoring hash in Amsterdam, peddling Ecstasy in Spain, kiting dodgy credit cards in Belgium, flogging bootleg t-shirts at rock concerts in France, snatching jewels in Germany. He and his mates served time in half the jails in Continental Europe - and then went back for more. They were on a raucous, riotous, rollercoaster ride - until they finally hit the buffers.
Some people live for the day. A grafter lives for the minute.