The History of the Football Casuals

Football Casuals

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Football: The beautiful game that we all fell in love with it and rightly so. It’s birthed so many unforgettable moments: Ronaldinho’s tricks, flicks and kicks or Messi’s dribbling, solo goal against Athletic Bilbao. The sport has created many a star, legions of loyal supporters and movements dedicated to the cause. Such as the Football Casuals, who became known in Britain during the 1970s for their smart fashions on football’s terraces. In this article, we explore the rise and fall of Football Casuals through football, fashion and violence.

What is a Football Casual?

Football Casuals

The Football Casuals are known alongside the Mods, Punks and Ravers as one of Britain’s iconic subcultures but its inception is somewhat of a debate. One theory is that during the 1970s, when Liverpool was enjoying a successful run in the European Cup, marauding supporters picked up the new styles across the continent. These included French and Italian designers such as C.P. Company, Fila Vintage, Kappa, Lacoste, Sergio Tacchini, Ellesse, Stone Island and many more. This group was originally known in Liverpool as the Scallies – an abbreviation for “scallywag” or mischievous rascal. You can see why!

During away days, fans from all over the country including London, Newcastle, Leeds and the Midlands, were quickly exposed to the new styles and adopted them pretty quickly. This was mostly because the Old Bill hadn’t caught on yet and were still targeting Skinheads wearing Doc Martens, rolled-up Levi’s and bomber jacket. Supporters would be forced to de-lace their boots and leave them in a pile outside the stadium to reduce violence at these games. You can just imagine how rough it was! Naturally, regional variations in the Casual movement became prevalent. For example, baggy jumpers and sheepskin coats were favoured in Liverpool while corduroy flares were all the rage in Manchester.

The Rise of the Casuals Movement 

Burberry Clothes

As the Casual movement began to grow during the 1980s, one-upmanship expedited the incorporation of homegrown British brands into the style portfolio. Think Burberry, Aquascutum, Pringle jumpers and other high-end designers. Most famously, in Manchester, the Perry Boys were thrust into the spotlight for their affinity for Fred Parry and the cities prior fallout with the post-Punk movement. Many attribute this stylistic shift to the fact that European trips became scarce with no teams making it to the latter stages of the European Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup.  So European “shopping” trips were put on hold.

Other reasons for shifting from sports and leisurewear to technical and sailor apparel is simply down to practicality. Although brands, such as Lacoste and Sergio Tacchini are great for the sun-soaked Riviera coasts, they weren’t suited for temperamental British weather, which mostly consisted of wind, rain and snow. Supporters needed something more hardy to wear out in the terraces. Burberry’s trench coats, Paul & Shark’s sweaters and Berghaus windbreakers were chosen as a result.

It’s a common misconception that the Casual style was exclusive to men; however, young, working-class women also adopted the styles – with a twist. While they still wore expensive sportswear, they coupled it with blingy jewellery and other showy hairstyles. The wedge was worn by both sexes, although it originally started as a women’s style. There were also big perms, permanent waves and the eye-brow raising Essex facelift, which was a pulled-back style that’s tied in a bun or ponytail. Still, this doesn’t mean that they partook in the hooliganism associated with the movement.

The Gangs 

Football violence

Violence and “fantisocial” behaviour has long been part of the football game. Similar disturbances date as far back as 1945 when younger sections of the terraces were causing a ruckus. Over 25 years later, it’s become ingrained in the culture and the clothes have become synonymous with this edge, as a result of the National Press. Essentially, the Casual culture was less about fashion but more about territory and tribalism. Between the 1960s and 1970s, Skinhead gangs across the country claimed their home ground as territory, which developed a network of rivalries between different supporting teams. Such a tradition continued with the Casual movement.

Fast-forward to 1975 and every club was associated with its own gang or “firm” that followed them religiously across the country. There were the Bushwackers from Millwall; the Service Crew from Leeds United and West Ham’s Inter City Firm among many, who have been immortalised by the Green Street movie. Unfortunately, during this period, the Casual movement became marred by injury, violence and even death. At the 1985 European Cup final in Brussels, 39 people died and hundreds were injured at Heysel Stadium after a wall collapsed in the stands.

The End Was Approaching

For some, this marked the end of the Casual movement. Top firms were pushed underground in the wake of increased police pressure against football violence. There was even the introduction of CCTV at stadiums, which facilitated football bans and other disciplinary action against antisocial behaviour. Still, for others, police intervention had nothing to do with it. Terracewear and the Casual movement merely fizzled out like any other trend. Especially with the shift from football to rave and dance music scenes during the 1990s.

Whether you’re a football fan or not, did any of your favourite brands gain popularity because of the Football Casuals movement? Let us know in the comments below.

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