Ten years ago, in The Firm, Jocelyn Bain Hogg documented a thriving London underworld dominated by the players who made their names in the 1960s and 70s: Freddie Foreman; Tony Lambrianou; Roy ‘Pretty Boy’ Shaw; Bruce Reynolds; Reggie Kray; and Joey Pyle.
Unique in his friendships with both the Krays and the Richardsons, who ran south London, Joey Pyle was one of the strongest figures in a sphere teeming with legends. His influence extended across London for thirty years. Having built his business, Joey was determined that it should not go to waste. His only son Joe would be a fine successor, but what would happen to the family if anything happened to Joe? Being a practical man, Joey decided to make provision. He looked around him and chose three men, each talented in different areas. Just before he died, he anointed Warren, Alan, and Mitch as his adopted sons.
Warren is Joe’s right hand man. Alan was spotted in the ring by old Joey, who trained him up. Mitch has retired. Joe oversees them all. These four men are at the centre of The Family. Now fathers themselves, they are far more circumspect about their activities than the retired villains who populate The Firm.
In the age of information, trust is more important than ever. Every member of the extended Pyle family has proven loyal. Lorraine, Joe’s aunt, has been involved from the beginning. She sells tickets at boxing matches. Teddy Bambam has known the Pyles since he was a boy. He brings in new boxers, and runs a children’s boxing club in Croydon on the side. Dave T has done what was asked of him for twenty years. There are few plastic gangsters in these pages. The exhibitionism of the late 90s has given way to realism, the vaudeville pageant replaced with first communions and birthday parties. The game has changed, and the Pyles are astute enough to recognise this.