We're not as bad as you Fink: Inside the infamous outlaw bikie gang whose leaders insist they're just 'ordinary blokes' not criminals - so why the face masks then, guys?
- Fink Motorcycle Club opened their doors to Daily Mail Australia 'to prove they are just normal guys'
- Club has more than 2000 members and claim strict laws don't detour them from 'being mates'
- Finks have been active in Sydney for 50 years - but are no longer based out of clubhouses
- The club's 'gang' status means most of the members are banned from talking to each other, or 'consorting'
- Some bikie gangs are involved in drugs, murder, extortion and other organised criminal activity in Australia
He's a 20-year veteran of the Finks outlaw motorcycle club, standing well over six feet tall with a big, bushy beard and dressed head-to-toe in the uniform - 'colours' - of his group.
He insists he is just a 'normal bloke' and father who happens to like big-bore bikes and hanging out with like-minded mates.
'I work full time, I have a mortgage and when I get home I have to mow the lawn just like anyone else,' Big M told Daily Mail Australia in an interview club members almost never give.
'I'm not making drugs in my back shed or acting as a stand-over man - in fact, we try not to let guys like that into the club.'
He does not like his club being branded as an outlaw motorcycle gang - a term Australian police and legislators have adopted across the country to crack down on criminal activity by bikie gangs.
But the lawmakers haven't acted without reason by instituting the national crackdown on bikies, with the gang members repeatedly charged with running drugs, guns and being involved in murders and assaults.
In 2009, NSW police formed taskforce Raptor with one objective: 'target outlaw motorcycle gangs and any associated criminal enterprises'.
The Strike Force was formed after a vicious brawl erupted between rival gangs the Comancheros and Hells Angels at Sydney Airport on March 23 of that year in front of terrified passengers. Anthony Zervas, who was associated with the Hells Angels, was killed during the brutal attack.'To me a gang is a dangerous group of people, a street gang, people who fight over territory. That's not us. We just like bikes,' said Big M.
Daily Mail Australia was given rare access to members of the Finks in Sydney, who posed for photographs and spoke out about what they say are unfair perceptions of them. But Big M still declined to be photographed or give his real name - because he didn't want to draw any more 'unwanted attention' to himself or the club.
The Finks Motorcycle Club started in Sydney more than 50 years ago - named after a long-running comic called the Wizard of Id. Big M recalls the glory days of the club 20 years ago, when club members could meet in public, ride together and wear their club insignia in pubs 'without being kicked out'. He joined the club after his brother did.
'But that has all changed - at the moment we are viewed as criminals, even if most of us have clear criminal records, so we aren't allowed to talk to each other.
'The term outlaw motorcycle gang was given to us – we have and always will call ourselves a motorcycle club.'
The strict anti-consorting laws mean the clubhouse is a thing of the past - but members claim the gang's 'brotherhood' has kept them together despite fears they could be charged with consorting and be jailed.
'I know two guys who went to the pub with their families on the same night - and were given a warning,' he said.
'Some people try to join for the wrong reasons, we are a brotherhood, we come together because we love bikes, we ride together and we look after each other. We are family and we try to weed the guys who are there for other reasons out.'
He says popular culture has not helped the public perception of motorcycle clubs.
'I watch Sons of Anarchy, but I tell you that show has a lot to answer for – it is nothing like that in a club.'
The club's 'gang' status means most of the members are banned from talking to each other, or 'consorting'. Another member, known as Menace, said the strict laws won't make him quit the club.
WHAT ARE THE ANTI-GANG LAWS?
According to NSW law a person can be charged with consorting if they 'habitually consorts with convicted offenders after being given a warning not to speak with the offenders.
This means they cannot talk to or communicates with an offender. To habitually consort the person has to talk to two convicted offenders (whether the same or separate occasion) and have to be caught on two occasions.
Police can give a consorting warning orally or in writing and must explain that consorting is an offence and the person being spoken to is a criminal. The maximum penalty is three years jail.
'Just because some people do bad things and happen to be members of clubs doesn't mean we are all drug-dealing deviants - the club doesn't condone any of that,' he said.
'It has changed the way clubs are, because some people get caught up in the wrong thing, but the perception we are all like that is ridiculous.
'It is like saying all footballers are drug dealers after finding one doing it, or that they all abuse women if there is a scandal.'
The heavily-tattooed members of the club still ride together - but are only allowed to speak with each other if they are getting legal advice.
'We find a way around it like that so we can still go on our rides, we went on a big run together a few weeks ago – and as long as we have our helmets on we can't be talking,' Big M said.
The consorting laws which keep them from their 'traditional' club events mean they can only speak with family members.
'I wasn't even allowed to talk to my brother-in-law before he died,' Big M said. 'I feel like by being told who I can and can't be friends with has taken away my human rights. I have known a lot of these guys for more than 20 years.'
A young man who joined the club just four months ago revealed how it has 'kept him on the straight and narrow'.
The consorting laws keep the Finks members from their 'traditional' club events
'I am not going to let anyone tell me that I can't talk to my friends,' one of the members said
'I was on the wrong path before and had no support or structure - but since I have been with these guys I have become a better person and I think I will stay out of jail,' he said.
He still has a long way to go before he is a 'fully fledged' member of the club – but says he is keen to become part of the family. Big M explained the 'family' and 'brotherhood' notions were pillars for the club - on top of the love for motorcycles.
'Before we would ride into the clubhouse on a Friday afternoon and ride back out again on Sunday.
'The whole family was involved, kids would come to the clubhouse, the wives would come out, it was a great atmosphere.
'But the spirit of the club is still the same - the family element is there we are always there for each other - my lounge room is more like a counsellors office some days with young blokes asking me questions about life.'
The veteran members of the club said 'anyone can join' as long as they 'are good guys and are riding a proper motorcycle'. If a potential member 'rocked up on a scooter' they would be told to 'keep riding' one of the men laughed.
'We are an English-American club so basically Harleys, Triumphs are alright too,' he said.
'But it does take four years to get your full licence so we let the young fellas come on some of the smaller bikes.'
One man said this was one of the greater inconveniences of being with the club - but he would still never leave.
'One day they came in to search the house and they sat there and went through my ten-year-old daughter's jewellery box - that didn't make sense to me because it isn't big enough to hide a gun. She was pretty scared and calls them ninjas when they visit because of the heavy gear.
'They also take Nerf guns and water pistols as imitation weapons so we can't have those in the house for the kids.'
If the men are not at home the police leave calling cards which say 'came to say hi but you weren't home, we will continue to visit you, your family and all known associates until we find you'.
There are more than 2000 members of the Finks club. according to the members. With that many members a 'strong leadership' is needed mostly to keep younger members in line.
'We keep the younger lads in line, if they have a problem with someone or something we try to sort it out before anything happens.
'My kids walk the street too, so the last thing we want is anything to happen on the street.
'The club doesn't condone that – in fact we don't condone any illegal behaviour – and for serious breaches we will even take away the boy's patches.'
The Finks have been operating in Australia for 50 years and say the club has no intentions of getting smaller or closing down.
'The brotherhood is only going to get stronger,' one said.