Getting to know The Footsoldier Carlton Leach in Braintree

CommunityAd go one-on-one with the underworld icon Carlton Leach.


Born in Canning Town on 12th March 1959, the name Carlton Leach is synonymous with football hooliganism, gangland crime, bodybuilding and the notorious drug scene of the 80s.


Carlton’s first best-selling autobiography ‘Muscle’ covers his extraordinary journey from respected Inter City Firm (ICF) football hooligan, feared bouncer and his time as a key member of the Essex Boys gang, who, alongside best friend Tony Tucker, Patrick Tate and Craig Rolfe, ran riot in the eighties and nineties through the drug underworld. After the success of ‘Muscle’, the book was made into an award-winning feature film Rise of the Footsoldier in 2007 with the sequel Rise of the Footsoldier Part 2 released in 2015.


This is part 1 of 3 of our exclusive interview with Carlton Leach where we discuss Carlton’s earliest beginnings with the Inter City Firm, his love of football and West Ham, his upcoming Sky Documentary and the fondness he has of our beautiful Braintree town…


Can you explain to readers how you made your first steps into the football hooliganism world and do you remember your first ever fight?

I enjoyed explaining in detail in my recent autobiography about how it was my dad that got me into watching West Ham when I was just a small boy, but that’s a good question about the actual hooliganism! I remember around 14 years old, and by that time going to matches on my own or with mates, that I became fascinated with watching the fighting in and around the ground.

By 16 I was all in; my decision was made to become a football hooligan!

It was all so long ago that I’m not sure about my very first fight, but the first big kick-off I was involved in was against Man United at home, somewhere around 1973/74 I think. There was fighting all around with the old bill steaming into groups of us and dragging people out left, right and centre! Eventually I was also karted off by 5 or 6 coppers and thrown in the back of a van, it was such a buzz!


You are a die-hard Hammers fan, how would you assess your season so far? Are you Moyes out? And if so, who would you like to come in and take the manager’s job?

I certainly was a Moyes supporter, but now I’m not so sure! I feel undecided at this point, because he done a good job up to this season really; can he turn the season around or have his style and choices gone stale? I definitely think he should have kept some of the backroom team he got rid of, he made some bad choices there. If we go down this year I can’t see him hanging in there, but I reckon we’ll be safe.


What is your stance on football now compared to when you watched it in the 80s? Do you still love the game as much as you used to or do you think the money involved now has damped the sport slightly?

There is far too much money involved now! Everything is too much, from the salaries to the ticket prices and everything in between.

Regardless of the business side of things and all the politics, I’m still just as passionate about West Ham as I’ve ever been, and I’ll staunchly support them till the day I die no matter what! On match days I still shout at the TV, or even turn it off with the ‘ump if they’re playing badly!


Would you swap the life you have lived and the memories you have for a professional football career at West Ham?

Yeah of course I would, in a heartbeat. I actually had trials when I played for Poplar Boys at Chadwell Heath. Would I want to walk out for my team? 100%… that would have been the pinnacle for me, but it wasn’t to be in this life!


Can you inform readers more about your upcoming Sky documentary, how involved were you with it and what can readers expect to see?

I’m more or less sworn to secrecy over that, and I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprises for anyone either! But what I can say is that I took part in a documentary that I’m told will likely bring new information and considerations to light where the murders are concerned.

My part in the documentary was not to help solve any case, but more to help set the scene, let’s say. Based on my dealings with the production team, plus with Sky being behind it, I’m expecting to be watching something that is really well put together, thought provoking and enjoyable to watch.


Can you explain your ties to Braintree and your fondness of the town?

I moved out from East London and have lived in several places throughout Essex, a place where there is a great amount of overspill of other Londoners, which helps to make life feel that much more comfortable.

Braintree is so convenient all round, with easy access to the A12, M25, train links, Freeport… it’s such an easy place to live. We have almost everything we need around here within pretty easy reach, and Polly’s Pie n Mash shop is only in Witham, so that’s a great bonus for the likes of me!


Catch part 2 of our exclusive interview with Carlton in our next edition of your Braintree CommunityAd Magazine, where we discuss his fighting past, how he views the current British night life scene and the devastating impact that best friend Tony Tucker’s death had on his life.


Keep up to date with Carlton Leach by following him on Twitter @TheCarltonLeach and Instagram @officialcarltonleach, or visiting

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