On March 31 1964, the front-page headline of the Daily Mirror was about mods and rockers rioting in Clacton. They were fuelled by ‘pep pills’ but on the same page was a story about a bit of bovver overseas caused by an intoxicant closer to our heart.
‘It was the Belgian beer that was mainly responsible,’ said one 17 year-old who witnessed an entire Easter weekend of rioting by English youths on a football tour in Ostend.
The epicentre of the trouble was what sounds like an English pub, the White Horse Inn, where, according to young Ken Calder ‘a Liverpool beat group were playing’. (A Belgian police spokesman described most of the rioters as looking rather like the Beatles, too.)
Anyone who’s ever been to Belgium will nod in recognition when they hear what kicked the violence off: ‘English people had been swearing and shouting at the waiters and staff, because the service of drinks was slow.’ Even today, Belgian waiters have a knack for avoiding eye contact until they think you’re ready for another beer.
We don’t know what the English rioters were drinking, but could this be considered an early example of ‘lager lout’ behaviour by Brits abroad?
Picture of Ostend in 1964 by Ron Fisher, via Flickr. (Not under Creative Commons — hope he won’t mind.)
3 replies on “Belgian Beer Louts, 1964”
“Even today, Belgian waiters have a knack for avoiding eye contact until they think you’re ready for another beer”
Really? You must go to the wrong bars then. Not something I have encountered at all.
Sorry to post this one on this thread but I don’t know how to work the Tiwtter or Facebook machines.
Anyhow, following on from your Becky’s Dive Bar piece I thought you might be interested in this entry from an Irish website about how pubs used to be advertised in Dublin.
Ah, here’s the original