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What is a Football Casual?




What is a Football Casual? Are they a breed of meathead football hooligans looking for any excuse to have a ruck? Are they a bunch of skinheads in bomber jackets and Doc Martens who have affiliations with right-wing political militant groups?

Are they chav kids intent on causing public disorder? Whatever your perception is or however you want to label them - I guarantee most of you will be wrong.

Being a Football Casual was and is in it's simplest form, about one-upmanship. The term casual is one that tends to stick the most, but there were also 'Perry's' from Manchester and 'Scallies' from Liverpool and numerous more other regional names for a similar type of football fan.

The Football Casual subculture wasn't about being politically led. Many casuals within the same crews had varying left-wing, right-wing and liberal political views. Neither was it was driven by one type of musical style. There's a wide spectrum of musical styles that many Football Casuals enjoy. Varying from original mod, revivalist mod, ska, dub, indie rock, rave, nu-rave, madchester, punk, post-punk , oi and even more. Football Casual culture had the allure to many of these other musical followers to cross-over to the casual side - and many of them did. Was it a fashion thing? Almost certainly - but not at first. It was a general look thing, which then transformed into a label slave thing. Was it a violence thing? Yes, but it was more of a byproduct of the one-upmanship - a necessity to show that your crew were number one both in the fashion and violence stakes. Violence and fashion were the key battlefields - but under the banner of the team of which you supported.

The need for a country like Britain to have a youth culture which is either led by teenage angst, political anarchy or musical revolution has always been evident. Most recently, ever since the 60's when the mods took on the rockers - these type of tribal clashes of various youth cultures have dominated our shores. I cite the mods in particular, as I believe that many of the fashion principles of mod culture (clean lines, minimal styling) also lie at the heart of the Football Casual subculture. Obviously there also some musical links, but that's where it ends really. The whole art and jazz thing (the original modernists) are certainly things which don't translate in Football Casual culture. Every movement needs a vehicle and with mods it was music, scooters and fashion. It just so happens, that the Football Casual subculture originated from the football terraces and their vehicle was football, fighting and fashion. If you were a mod, it was arguably easier for you to move across - as brands such Fred Perry and (less so) Ben Sherman could translate.

Where and when did the whole thing start? There's been much debate on this, but it's universally accepted that the scene originated from Liverpool in the late 70's. Liverpool were kings of Europe and a number of fans started to pick things up on their travels. Before long, expensive sportswear and designer labels found on the continent were soon also finding their way onto the terraces. Sergio Tacchini, Fila and Lacoste tennis shirts were quite popular around this time. Footwear was taking off too with the adidas sambas and Diadora Borgs Elites. Before long many northern firms were going on 'shopping' trips to Europe to loot a number of German, French and Swiss designer sportswear stores, as security was far more lax than in the UK. Over the course of a few years, everybody was wearing the staple brands, with each individual firms showing preference to particular brands. Suddenly, one-upmanship was all the rage as more and more brands were being discovered, but often varied in popularity from region to region.

By the mid 80's there were brands which were almost essentials and others which varied from crew to crew. Stone Island and CP jackets were essential, as well as vintage adidas trainers. Fila BJ, Ellesse, Sergio Tacchini and Lacoste track tops also grew in popularity. Before long the likes of Armani, Burberry, Aquascutum, Berghaus, Fiorucci and Lois were soon being added to the wardrobe.

When the 90's came around, the focus moved slightly from sportswear to more designer brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, YSL (before it became over commercialised), Paul Smith and Prada began to emerge across the country. However, many of the sportswear brands around at the beginning are still acceptable today. It must be said though that only certain ranges are acceptable. For instance Lacoste polo shirts, v-neck and crew neck jumpers are all okay - but not Lacoste baseball caps or t-shirts. Another example is Fred Perry polo shirts - but probably only the polo shirts. Again, this varies from region to region and cannot be assessed scientifically.

In essence, this site is more of retrospective guide to the history and brands associated with Football Casual culture. We do not attempt to be a mirror guide for what is happening now. We believe the best way to approach a site like this is to treat it as a generalist tribute to aesthetics and brands, rather than a resource for those in-the-know.



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