Ice cream is everybody’s favourite childhood treat, but it once saved former undercover Millwall hooligan James Bannon from exposure and perhaps death.
The ex-Police officer was entrusted with the infiltration of ‘the Millwall Bushwackers’ hooligan group during the 1980s. He was part of a sophisticated Police sting designed to nullify the hooligan groups bringing violence, fear and shame to English football at the time.
As you would expect, embedding yourself so deep into one of the most feared football fan groups of the time came with its dangers and near misses. Fortunately, Bannon was armed with an ice cream when one of his old colleagues approached him for a conversation while he was deep undercover.
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“That’s your biggest fear. I got recognised once by a guy I was in the cadets with,” Bannon said to the Anything Goes with James English podcast, when asked if he was ever seen by friends, family, or colleagues while working. “It was a sergeant who started coming towards me and you know someone’s recognised you and is going to start talking.
“I just planted an ice cream in his head. I had bought everyone ice creams on our way in and as he came towards me I thought ‘oh f***ing hell I’ve got to do something here’.
“I just went ‘bop!’ and then grabbed him and said ‘I’m working what the f*** are you doing?’.” Bannon’s quick thinking not only silenced the colleague in his tracks, but he also alerted other on duty officers, known as spotters, to the situation.
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“The spotters recognised it was me and obviously came over,” Bannon added. “They got really aggressive with me, nicked me, led me up the thing and went ‘what was going on?’.
“I said ‘I mean he was about to f***ing’ [expose me]. They went ‘what happened’ and I explained and they went ‘right, well you’ve been nicked now’ so that was cool.
“I didn’t go back out to the game and then I just went back into the pub afterwards. Of course, everyone was like ‘what happened’ and I just said ‘ahh I’ve been f***ing nicked’.”
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