Jubilee Gardens – 10th June 1984
Skrewdriver – “Streetfight”
Waiting for the weekend, on a left-wing afternoon
Reds are gonna lose their power, skinheads gonna call the tune
Pushing through the Red scum, feeling pretty good
The pride of being White men, go for commie blood
All that pent up anger that goes pouring through your head
Streetfight in the city, the Reds are gonna end up dead
The time is nearly here, the tension starts to build
Communists all over, Jubilee Gardens are all filled
Reds are pretty worried about the skinheads at the show
Sheep they fly their Red flag, but the skinheads have their own White Power!
While 28 had not fully emerged in 1984, it was the year when the founding figures all came together from different groups to organise one of the most feted skinhead attacks in our history, a suicidal mission with one aim – to smash the self proclaimed “kings of the left’, the Redskins, and finally nail down and hit Red Action on our terms.
The middle class wannabe’s called the Redskins had been stirring the pot by writing many threats, taunts and fantasy tales of fights with “the fash” from the safety zone of the musical press for some time. Whenever challenged (and challenged they were on many occasions) they would melt away, then slowly reappear when they thought the coast was clear. This time it was not to be the case. There would be no escape.
Red Action had been sniping away at skinheads for some time, picking off loners after a night out or waiting on the periphery of gigs or parties. Whenever challenged with a similar sized group to fight, they always ran or came off second best. They had a few who could have a row but the vast majority were just slogan chanters who would be on their toes before the real business started. Almost inevitably after every encounter, whatever the outcome, you would read about fanciful Red Action tales of individual glory and imaginary victories, which were at complete odds with real events. Not this time.
The aims of the mission was to leave the Redskins bloodied and cowering on their own stage, a joke on all sides of the coin, and Red Action unveiled even in their own echo chamber, stripped of all the manufactured credibility they had so carefully concocted. And at the end of the day both aims were viciously carried out.
Planning started four weeks before the Greater London Council’s free open air ‘Jobs For a Change’ festival in Jubilee Gardens, armed with the knowledge that left wing London Mayor Ken Livingston had instructed the police not to be on site at the event. Mick McAndrews, a South East London British Movement and skinhead event organiser, started contacting major faces around London to organise an audacious attack on the band the Redskins, formerly known as No Swastikas. The band had recently started dressing up as skinheads at the bequest of the Socialist Workers Party and had been making provocative remarks in the music press winding up real skinheads everywhere.
“Were on the top of the skinhead hit list. But we won’t shy away from trouble” said Nick Redskin to Sounds music magazine.
The band’s frontman, Chris Dean (real name Chris Moore) worked for the New Musical Express (NME), sister paper to the Melody Maker. It was easy to see why all the musical papers in Great Britain flattered the band and pushed the middle class wannabes as real street fighting skinheads. Anyone with the slightest of knowledge of the skinhead scene could see that this was pushing the truth to new limits.
Talk of smashing a Redskins gig had been going around the various skinhead hangouts for a while, and after a few meets three firms agreed to on go what was widely accepted as a one way mission that needed to be done. South East London British Movement skinheads led by Mick McAndrews and the band the Ovaltinees, South London skinheads and Chelsea Headhunters led by Chubby Chris Henderson, lead singer of the band Combat 84, and lastly the Last Resort skinheads led by Nicky Crane and Ian Stuart. Due to family commitments Ian had to travel back to Blackpool that weekend but it was agreed by all it was probably better that he wasn’t there anyway as he would have been identified immediately once in the area and no one wanted the predicted 20,000 plus crowd stirred before the mission was in progress.
On the day, 30 skinheads from the SE London BM contingent and five Dutch skinheads from Rotterdam met with Chubby Chris and his crew of a similar number in the Griffin pub by Charing Cross Station. Meanwhile in East London Nicky Crane was rallying the Last Resort skinheads in the Ten Bells a skinhead pub next to the shop.
When the Redskins were due to go on stage, the firm left the Griffin and infiltrated the massive crowd congregating as planned, all around the Redskins stage, and waited for Nicky Crane and his fifty strong firm to arrive. But time went by and as the Redskins started their last number of the set “Lean On Me”, it was decided by Mick McAndrews and Chubby Chris to attack. The fifty or sixty strong firm initially let loose with bottles at the band and unified chants of “Sieg Heil”, to which the lead singer, unaware he was about to get spanked, replied with the famous “you sound like Margaret Thatcher” retort.
Led by Chubby Chris and Skrewdriver guitarist Adam Douglas, five people managed to scale the perimeter barriers and clambered onto the stage. They quickly took out the Red security and weighed into the band. The lead singer was dramatically smashed in front of thousands of his adoring fans, sustaining multiple punches to his face with no reply. His guitarist had the indignity of having his own guitar taken off him and smashed over his head while another had a mike stand wrapped around his head. The band was smacked to pieces.
Meanwhile fighting had broken out all around the stage as left wing dress ups who had been marked earlier were systematically taken out – a job made a lot easier by the fact many chose to wear red Harringtons and ridiculously large turn ups on their jeans.
After the initial onslaught and with the band members literally laying in tatters, the firm started to make a fighting withdrawal by going through and around the stage and onto Waterloo Road. Not such an easy task when the odds were still over 50 to 1 – it was to be a fighting retreat every step of the way.
The initial red stampede brought on by blind panic and fear had subsided to reveal the reality that they had just been turned over by a group of skinheads which numbered no more than sixty and contained a fair few girls. Some put this down to the ferocity of the initial attack and perhaps the acoustics in front of City Hall which amplified the chants of “Sieg Heil” and “skinhead” to make it seem there was far more attackers than they thought. Whatever the reason it certainly took the majority of the reds’ fighting appetite away, reds who had just bravely sung along to every Redskins song that they would kill every “fash” they could find.
A constant barrage of bottles and missiles were thrown into the retreating group and skinheads on the periphery were literally fighting all the way to stay on their feet and in contact with the main group. Many took hits from the missiles raining down and some individuals were surrounded and just lashed out at anyone or anything that came within striking distance to try and quell all the blows coming in and to make a gap to escape. The prearranged regrouping point of Waterloo East was all that was on every one’s minds.
The main firm, now only numbering around twenty or thirty, eventually regrouped by the footbridge into Waterloo Station. Many were unaccounted for and a fair few who made it carried war wounds. Just behind the valiant attackers, a massive mob of reds had been half-heartedly giving pursuit, most still too wary to launch an all-out attack, content to just chant “red, red, red action”. Chubby Chris shouted back it was something we hadn’t seen any of yet which made everyone laugh in the midst of the battle.
Around the base of the footbridge, the council had been removing or replacing the pavement slabs and everyone loaded themselves up with broken pieces of rubble before taking position on top of the bridge. With everyone chanting “skinhead” the reds got nearer and a few began running at the defenders. The vast majority either didn’t really want to know or were still confused as to why such a vastly outnumbered group would stand defiantly waiting for them.
Once in range, the sections of paving slabs wreaked havoc on the initial attackers trying to ascend the staircase to the footbridge and along with a few punches and kicks to the leading reds, their appetite for conflict soon diminished. It was the perfect position for the small group to defend against much larger numbers. The skinhead firm was then able to retreat without sustaining any more injuries into the main concourse of Waterloo. At this point police also appeared on the bridge from the station and presumably halted the reds as none followed inside.
Once inside, the main firm (or what was left) went to Waterloo East to make their way back to Woolwich. Chubby Chris and about a dozen of his firm made their way to St Thomas’ Hospital to get their wounded seen to, as one skinhead had sustained a large gash to his neck from a flying bottle.
On making it to the relevant platform at Waterloo East the British Movement skins were met by six or eight of their missing comrades waiting at the bottom of stairs at the ready for reds. They had also fought their way back, albeit by a different route, but with similar stories to tell. Some were still missing, including Mick Mc, who had taken a missile to the head and kicked while laying unconscious, which in his own words afterwards “was great as I never felt a thing”. Everyone was still rejoicing at the result. The word was it was a one way mission and no one had expected such a comprehensive victory. The journey back has been described as one massive adrenalin pumped party.
Chubby Chris and his boys circumvented the reds and made it to the A&E of the nearest hospital. A constant stream of ambulances were arriving and unloading and the lobby was full of casualties from the events of the day, hence full of reds. Seeing our boys arrive, a tense stand off ensued with plenty of verbal threats going back and forth. Many wounded reds got up and left the hospital. Whether by word or coincidence, thirty or so of Red Action’s main firm soon arrived, some nursing wounds from flying paving slabs, and things really heated up. Hospital security initially kept them at bay but everyone knew it was going to kick off.
A young skinhead managed to get hold of a pair of surgical scissors and, backed by Chubby and a few others, chased the much larger group of reds from the hospital. If that wasn’t humiliation enough, the street fighters of Red Action then ran straight to a police car sitting outside and claimed they had just been attacked with knives. The police immediately called back up on this information and riot police from the Special Patrol Group (SPG) entered the hospital and escorted all the skinheads who weren’t injured out. They were herded into a meat wagon, then dropped off at Lambeth North underground, accompanied with a fair few words of praise for the day’s action.
Those remaining in the A&E dept were watched until they had been patched up and they were also then driven from the area and dropped off at a safe underground station. It was another result no one was expecting and much to everyone’s amusement it was thanks to Red Action’s cowardice.
Nicky Crane and fifty skinheads from the Last Resort had travelled by tube to Embankment station. On leaving the tube station they went across the Hungerford Bridge and South Bank to Jubilee Gardens with word coming in it had already kicked off at the other stage and the Redskins had been annihilated. On arriving at the festival, which was still jumpy over the last rampage, the huge crowd parted at the sight of the skinheads who just marched straight to the stage and attacked again. At the time the Hank Wangford band was playing, and within minutes the security had folded and stage was taken by the skinheads once again. World famous photos show Nicky Crane and co victorious while fighting on the said stage, dishing it out to any red who ventured near.
If the first group had a tough time fighting their way out, the second group faced an even bigger task from the minute they left the stage. This time the young skinheads were faced not with Red Action, but with a determined force led by Welsh miners which then gave hundreds of reds the impetus to also have a go. The retreating skinheads were again attacked from every angle and everyone had to fight for every step of ground. Those who were felled paid a high price, but the job was done and mission accomplished and that was all that counted.
The Last Resort skinheads that had managed to remain together (probably half the initial number) fought running battles until well away from the event’s location, followed by a large mob of reds. Every now and again, once everyone had secured a missile, Nicky Crane would lead a charge which would force the reds to retreat and keep their distance for a short while. After a few of these back and forths, the reds were content to follow and just shout puerile lefty sound bytes, until they eventually gave up and retreated back to the safety of Jubilee Gardens.
At this point everyone split into smaller groups. Some peeled off to make their way home or to get medical attention in their own manors, and some made their way to meet up with the others in Woolwich. Most had taken hits of some kind or another but again, everyone was ecstatic at a result against such odds. One young skinhead even managed to take a guitar from the stage and got it all the way home to Dagenham, something he still proudly displays today.
That evening a victory party was held in the Crown & Cushion in Woolwich. During the evening a constant stream of the “lost” kept turning up, and each one was greeted with a great cheer.
At some point during the night it came through that Red Action had launched a revenge attack on the Agricultural Arms (or the Aggy as it was more affectionately called), a well known skinhead pub in Islington. Everybody knew on a Sunday, skinheads would be found at the Last Resort shop, Ten Bells adjacent, or one of the pubs on the Bethnal Green Road or Dirty Dicks by Liverpool Street Station. These were all for lunchtime get togethers, as nearly everyone was either skint by Sunday evening or had work the next day.
One of the main Red Action pubs was the Pied Bull just around the corner from the Aggy and both were witness to regular skirmishes between the two sides, so they knew full well no one, bar possibly the odd skinhead, would be in the Aggy on a Sunday evening. The news that Red Action, the self-proclaimed English arm of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), had attacked an empty pub with full knowledge of that and then beaten up the barmaid Jane, Nicky Crane’s then girlfriend, just made them lose face even more. In all probability it put the last nail in their coffin.
As with most red groups, their self-adulation and fanciful tales of street fighting prowess never match reality, however much they keep putting it in print and rewriting massive defeats as victories. A little scrutiny always tells a different story.
The following day the national newspapers and televised news were all full of lurid reports of skinhead carnage and mayhem inflicted on the left. Photographs and film showed Nicky Crane on one stage running amok and the Red Skins cowering on another as Adam Douglas stood over them with mic stand in hand.
Many of the young battle wounded skinheads who were in attendance jokingly claimed to have got bigger hidings off their parents the next day than from the assorted reds. As for the band, the Red Skins they disappeared not even two years later.
To put things in perspective, nearly all the skinheads who took part in the operation were in their teens or early twenties. They took part knowing they were facing what seemed unsurmountable odds number wise, against the toughest street fighters the reds could muster and a large contingent of Welsh miners. They expected no mercy and received no mercy. Injuries were accepted and taken but still they prevailed, giving hope and inspiration to future generations of skinheads and laying the foundations of unity and joint action amongst our ranks.
Cede Nullis 28!
No Remorse – “Smash The Reds”
A fight goes off, and people get hurt
Skinheads attack a commie concert
Look all around, see the Reds run
One or two stop for a fight in the sun
The stage is invaded and drums start to roll
The Redskins get done, and it adds to the toll
Four thousand Reds, a variation of scum
And they haven’t got the bottle when it’s forty to one
Who’s the next victim? What happens now?
Who’ll get a taste of Skinhead White Power?
Whoever it is they’ll have to learn
All over England we have the best firm
Smash! Smash! Smash the Reds!
Commies get done by Skinheads!
Smash! Smash! Smash the Reds!
Commies get done by Skinheads!