Got a mob? Get a name. The more obscure and lowly the team, the more thought went into the tag of their casual firm, as Peter Hooton explains: “When I was producing The End fanzine we got letters from the Derby-Leicester Alliance*, Wrexham Frontline, English Border Front, Wolves Subway Army, Lincoln Transit Elite… the list goes on.”
* A one-off super-mob put together to tackle Nottingham Forest’s Executive crew.
It was only in the 1960s that football supporters started following their teams in other parts of the country. To facilitate this, British Rail put on “football specials”, which would take well-behaved supporters to their ground of choice and whisk them back safely. Sadly, with no time to stop off for drink/scrap and the worst trains BR could find, smart fans soon dispensed with the specials and got on the “ordinary”, where you’d get less bother of the police and more time to peruse local men’s boutiques for pre-Switch “cashless” purchases. A punch in the face was often included in the price of a ticket.
Peter Storm and Patrick
The kings of the cagoule, these brands produced the must-have outerwear for trips away in autumn and spring, as Adidas’ Gary Aspden testifies. “It rains a lot in the north-west of England so you need something to keep you dry. Patrick cagoules came in loads of colours, we used to name ours after flavours of bags of crisps. They were intrinsic to casual fashion.”
See also: “paninari” – the fashionable Italian youths found hanging about outside sandwich (panini) shops in Milan, Rome etc. More inclined to razz about on 4cc mopeds whistling at girls for days on end than their English counterparts.
The first well-dressed lads at the match were deemed to be gay because of the effeminacy of their dress and haircuts. This changed when said effeminates starting using Stanley knives to reassert their masculinity.
If you want to gauge the cultural power of casual, just check out how many iconic and not-so-iconic labels have reissued “classics” in an attempt to cover themselves with casual cool. Adidas Originals trade heavily on their well-earned status, this year reissuing the ST2 coat and Kegler Super trainers – two absolute early ’80s classics. Other brands have also got in on it with Farah producing whole ranges on the back of the popularity of their sta-prest trousers during the 1980s.
While casual is seen as a specific period of time south of border (roughly 1977-1988), in Scotland, the term is still used to denote a violent, smartly-dressed football fan. The first crew to get on it were the Aberdeen, who, after meeting Liverpool in the European Cup of 1980, appropriated the Scouse look. Dons fans also followed sides like Tottenham and Arsenal, enabling shopping trips to London to stock up on designer gear. Later, Aberdeen were joined by Motherwell and Hibs in their fashion endeavours, but the twin giants of Scottish football, Celtic and Rangers remained oblivious to the cult.
See also: Stone Island, without doubt
As well as heralding the era of label-worship, casual also took the tracksuit from the tennis court to the terraces and breakdance mats of urban Britain. Made as luxury items for tennis players in Italy, the likes of Sergio Tacchini’s Dallas* and Cerutti 1881’s velour top were hugely sought after, but even they had to bow to the majesty of the Fila Terrinda, which retailed for a whopping £95 on its 1986 release. Neil Primett from 80sCasualClassics.co.uk: “The Terinda was the most expensive tracksuit back then and was so aspirational. I’ve got 12 originals, which I’ve bought off eBay and they all cost between £400-£1000.”
* The Dallas was worn by John McEnroe in the 1981 “Battle of the Trackies” Wimbledon final, in which he took on a Fila-clad Bjorn Borg. What made Tacchini’s tracksuits so desirable was the instant flare the wearer could have by the facilitation of the zip at the back of trouser.
The youngest football mobs, with individuals usually working as “scouts” for the main firm and reporting on the whereabouts of rival crews. Not actually under five years old.
Very big bags
If Adidas gave us the trainers, then tennis brand Head provided
The ultimate casual haircut, the wedge was actually invented in London in 1974 as a women’s style, but was soon adopted by the capital’s soul boys*. Cut short at the back, with a long, parted fringe that covered one eye, it was taken up by Scouse casuals when David Bowie sported one on the cover of his Low album.
*Flash, mid-’70s soul boys are seen by some as forerunners to casuals in the capital.
After Heysel, the “classic” casual brands fell out of favour. Instead European preppy labels like C-17, Chipie and Ciao became popular – usually coupled with a long-on-top short back and sides. Before the 1990 World Cup in Italy, brands like Duffer of St George and Burro used soccer as the basis for lots of their garments, including the iconic
While the cool months of the year were taken care of, clothes-wise, in the summer the only sport that could compete with tennis for clobber was yachting. Deck shoes by the likes of Sebago were especially popular, though the nearest they ever got to sea water was wading through the puddles in the car park outside Stoke City’s Victoria Ground.
Not everyone could afford/steal the top labels, which meant that it wasn’t long before cheap imitations came out, often sold in markets and bought by mums with the words: “Look, it’s exactly the same as the one you wanted, but it’s £20 cheaper. Anyway, I prefer the shark to that crocodile.” Brands included, Ennesse, Gallini, Le Shark and St Helens’ finest Tacchini rip-offs, Walker. The thought of them makes many a casual shudder even now.