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Colin Blaney's 'Grafters', originally published in 2004, was a ground-breaking exposè 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 flats 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 rollercoaster ride - until they finally hit the buffers.


Colin’s career as a writer began when he was asked to contribute a few words to Richard Kurt’s ‘Red Army Years’ while in a Swiss jail in the late 90s. Thrilled with seeing his work in print, Colin took 5 years to write the critically acclaimed ‘Grafters’.

Subsequently the author has written for many football fanzines and contributed to several other books on the subject including ‘The A to Z of Football Hooligans, ‘30 Years of Hurt’ and ‘Perry Boys Abroad’. He has also researched and co-written many series for television including ‘The UK’s Toughest Seaside Town’ and ‘The UK’s Toughest Pub’.

More recently Colin has taken to the camera contributing still photographs to the ‘A Day On The Lens’ exhibition at Manchester’s Royal Exchange as well as capturing film of Timperley legend Frank Sidebottom’s final performance. He has even appeared in theatre in “Up On The Roof” at Manchester's Royal Exchange and has a new film about Harold Riley in the pipeline.

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