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Green Street is a 2005 independent drama film about football hooliganism in Englandmarker. It was directed by Lexi Alexander and stars Elijah Wood and Charlie Hunnam. In the United Statesmarker and Australia, the film is called Green Street Hooligans, while in the United Kingdommarker it has the title Green Street after initially being called Hooligans. In other countries, it is called Football Hooligans or just Hooligans. In the film, an Americanmarker college student (Matt Buckner — played by Elijah Wood) falls in with a violent West Ham football firm (the Green Street Elite) run by his brother-in-law's brother and is morally transformed by their commitment to each other. The story and screenplay were developed by former hooligan turned author Dougie Brimson. Throughout the film, the Green Street Elite fight other firms such as Tottenham Hotspur's Yid Army, Birmingham City's Zulus, Manchester United's Red Army and Millwall's Bushwackers. A sequel called Green Street 2: Stand Your Ground, was released straight to video in 2009.


Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood) isthrown off his Harvardmarker Journalism course after cocaine is discovered in his room. The drugs belong to his preppy roommate Jeremy Van Holden (Terence Jay) but Buckner is afraid to speak up because the Van Holdens are a powerful family. Jeremy is paid $10,000 for his dealings, and he leaves the room. Matt takes the money and uses the money to travel to Britain to live with his sister Shannon (Claire Forlani), her husband Steve Dunham (Marc Warren) and their newborn son.

Matt meets Steve's brother, Pete (Charlie Hunnam), a loud Cockney football hooligan, in his early-to-mid 20s who loves football. Steve proposes that Pete takes Matt to see West Ham United play at home to Birmingham City. Pete is very reluctant to take a "Yank" to a football match, given the xenophobic nature of Pete's friends and other football fans. But he is persuaded to take him when Steve won't give him any money otherwise. Steve, in fact, gives money to Matt instead of Pete, and tells Matt not to give any to Pete. On the way to the game, Pete tells Matt that there is nothing less he would like to do than take a Yank to the game, so he proposes that Matt give him half the money. Matt refuses, keeping his promise to Steve, resulting in Pete threatening Matt. Matt tries to trick Pete by announcing the false presence of the police and while distracted he swings a kick at him. But he is easily blocked and thrown to the ground. Pete decides that he will bring Matt with him.

Matt meets Pete's friends in the Abbey. Pete and his friends are in a football firm. "Firms" are the names for organized gangs of supporters of a football team who plan and provoke fights with the firms of opposing teams. After a few pints of lager, they all walk to Upton Parkmarker to see the game. A fight is started with Birmingham's firm - Matt getting jumped by three Birminghammarker fans, who nearly perform a gruesome torture act upon him (the 'Chelsea Grin') until a small party of the GSE intervene, which progresses to a bigger fight with the rest of Birmingham's firm. Though grossly outnumbered, the GSE manage to hold their ground until reinforcements of the GSE arrive led by Bovver and chase off the Birmingham firm. Matt does well in his first true fight and is inducted into the GSE.

It is revealed that the GSE's sworn enemy is Millwall's firm, led by Tommy Hatcher. When Bovver begins to get sick of Matt being close with Pete, he starts negotiating with Hatcher. One of the firm sees Matt in The Times' headquarters when his father, who is a renowned journalist, has come to town and is taking Matt to lunch. Bovver learns this and mistakenly presumes that Matt is also a journalist and is using his time in the firm for a news story. Bovver confronts Pete about Matt's journalism. Pete's brother Steve finds out and goes to the Abbey to warn Matt. It is then that Matt finds out that Steve used to be the "The Major," the leader of the GSE.

When Steve was The Major, the last game he went to was West Ham versus Millwall, to which Tommy Hatcher brought along his 12-year-old son, a son who Tommy had raised to be hard. After the game, a fight broke out between the GSE and the Millwall firm. Tommy's son got badly caught up in the fight and was killed. Since then Tommy Hatcher "lost it," blaming the death of his son solely on the GSE, mainly Steve Dunham. After seeing Tommy's son die, Steve quit the GSE.

Bovver arrives, and there is a big argument in the Abbey, which is eventually resolved, but Bovver still doesn't trust Matt. Infuriated, he goes to Millwall's local and asks Tommy Hatcher to come to the Abbey to sort stuff out. At first Hatcher is reluctant, until Bovver tells Hatcher that Steve Dunham is there.The Millwall firm crash the Abbey, with Tommy Hatcher petrol bombing the bar and confronting Steve Dunham. Whilst Steve proclaims he's no longer part of the GSE and says he has a wife and son. Tommy gets even angrier ("I had a son once!") and stabs Steve in the neck with a broken bottle, telling him "If you die tonight, you and me are even."

During the fight in the Abbey, Bovver is knocked out outside. When he comes around, Steve Dunham is being carried out of the Abbey with blood flowing from his neck, which makes Bovver hysterical and deeply regretful. Steve is taken to the hospital by Pete, Matt and Bovver, where Pete blasts Bovver for getting his brother in hospital and saying he despises him. The end fight involves both sides going into a resolution brawl. Bovver shows up and fights for GSE, trying to make up for what he has done. When helping up Pete, who has been badly hurt by Tommy Hatcher, Pete tells him that if he wants to make up for what he has done, he should get Matt's sister and infant nephew, who have turned up unexpectedly, out of there immediately, as one of Hatcher's men is trying to attack them.

Tommy Hatcher goes toward the car that Matt's sister is in to get revenge on Steve Dunham, but Pete distracts him by shouting to him, asking if he wants to "finish him off." After Tommy says he has already finished him off, Pete, still determined to protect his brother's wife and child, says that Tommy is to blame for not protecting his son all those years ago ("He was your SON!"). Tommy is driven to insanity by these remarks and he attacks Pete and eventually beats him to death, all the while shouting out the words to the chant 'Only a poor little Hammer' while giving the graphic detail of his son's condition. The fight completely halts at this point, and Tommy is eventually pulled off Pete by some of his friends, still screaming. Everyone there stands over Pete's dead body with Bovver sobbing at his side.

Matt then drives with his sister to the airport, to fly back to America. He confronts Jeremy Van Holden in a restaurant toilet where Jeremy is snorting cocaine. Previously promising to hook him up after Matt took the fall for him, Jeremy agrees again to do so but arrogantly tells Matt to leave. Matt then pulls out a tape recorder and plays back what Jeremy just said, saying that it is his "ticket back to Harvard." Jeremy tries to steal the tape off him, but Matt easily reverses his attack and holds his fist up, as if to punch Jeremy, who is now a quivering wreck. Matt does not punch Jeremy, but instead walks out with a smile as Jeremy collapses to the floor, defeated.

The film ends with Matt walking down an American street outside the restaurant singing West Ham's song, "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles."

Cultural context

The name of the firm in film, the Green Street Elite, refers to Green Streetmarker in the London Borough of Newham, where West Ham's home stadium, Boleyn Groundmarker (more commonly known as Upton Park) is located. West Ham is supported by one of England's notorious hooligan firms: the Inter City Firm (ICF). Although Green Street has received some criticism regarding the exaggerated level of violence shown between the firms in the movie, the cultural validity of the script is rooted in anthropological studies of firm behaviourism. Through all the criticism, this became a reality in late August 2009.


Actor Role
Elijah Wood Matt Buckner
Charlie Hunnam Pete Dunham
Leo Gregory Bovver
Claire Forlani Shannon Buckner Dunham
Marc Warren Steve Dunham
Ross McCall Dave
Rafe Spall Swill
Kieran Bew Ike
Geoff Bell Tommy Hatcher
James Allison Benn Dunham
Terence Jay Jeremy Van Holden
Scott Christie Millwall Lad/Ricky
Joel Beckett Terry
Tom Vloothuis Firm Member


LA Femme Film Festival
  • Lexi Alexander won Best Feature (2005)

Malibu Film Festival
  • Lexi Alexander won Best of the Fest (2005)

SXSW Film Festival
  • Lexi Alexander won Special Jury Award

Critical reception

The film received mixed reviews upon release with casting and character accents being amongst the main criticisms. It scored 46% on movie website Rotten Tomatoes, and it scored 55% on the website Metacritic. Roger Ebert gave the film a very favourable review.


Green Street 2: Stand Your Ground was released straight-to-DVD in March 2009.The film does not star most of the main cast of the first film, but rather focuses on Ross McCall, who played Dave in the first film. The plot has Dave, who was caught from the fight at the end of the first film, in a prison where he must fight to survive.

See also


  1. The Independent
  3. Green Street on Rotten Tomatoes
  4. Green Street on Metacritic
  5. Roger Ebert on Green Street Hooligans

External links

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