In the UK, we love our subcultures, they’ve always been a part of life. It started in the 50s and 60s and it’s still as important today. One of the largest yet most controversial subcultures that is still going strong today, is the Football Casual. A lot of people will think of it as Football Hooligans, but there is a lot more to it these days, it has always been about the fashion and the clothes and today that’s made more obvious with football violence have been pushed even further to the margins. Today men associate with casual culture because they love the clothes and love being connected and identified as a football fan.
It all started way back in the 1950s when football fans started to embrace the popular fashion of the Teddy Boy culture. Football is traditionally a working class sport, and a lot of the fans connected with the anti-establishment nature of the culture. That connection stayed with the terraces through the 60s until it was replaced with the skinhead movement.
It was a turbulent time for football casuals, skinhead clothing is easily identifiable and the Police began to target them, even before they got to the grounds. Plus football fans didn’t necessarily share the same political views of the skinheads, and of course, being a casual is multi-cultural.
The football casuals were crying out for their own sense of identity. Each club has their own fan groups, but other than that, there is no higher being, that make universal decisions for the group. Finally they forged their own identity in the late 70s and it’s thanks to Liverpool FC.
During the late 70s, the Liverpool team were kings of Europe. Year after year, they went all across Europe beating the best teams in all the top leagues. As the team conquered Europe, they were followed by their fans. It’s those fans that were the catalyst for the football casual we have today.
Whilst travelling across Europe, the liverpool fans would pick up clothes at all the Boutiques around Europe, and then wear them back home on the terraces as a way of showing others that they were die hard fans. They specifically picked up brands you could only get in Europe, that hadn’t made their way to the UK besides the odd boutique in London perhaps.
If you had a Lacoste Polo, that was really only available in Europe, it showed other fans that you were a die hard fan that followed your club over land and sea. A badge of honour, or a uniform. Motifs like the Lacoste crocodile became instantly recognizable. Other fans began to copy them and not just fans for other clubs playing in Europe, especially northern fans. Londoners were the last to follow, they always so “the north” as a little backwards, so were late jumping onto the football casual bandwagon.
This is the football casual as we know it today. All through the 80s it just grew and grew, but a lot of fans were still reluctant to embrace it because they didn’t want to be associated with football violence. Then. moving into the 90s the Police started a massive crackdown to wipe out football violence, especially around the grounds on match day.
As the violence was pushed the margins, more and more guys felt comfortable embracing the football casual fashion. They love football and being a fan of their club, an almost tribal identity and wearing specifical designer clothes allowed them to show than connection, and still look fashionable. It’s also a style that can be easily blended into everyday life, unlike other subculture like skinheads, or goths.
Which brings us to the present day. In 2016, over 13 million people went to football matches. More and more of them have embraced the casual culture. You’ll find brands such as Lacoste and Stone Island, C.P Company and Lyle & Scott in abundance. Fred Perry and Diadora are still cool. But there’s also been some new brands, launched off the back of the culture like Eighties Casuals and Weekend Offender.
The culture is no longer associated with violence, or at least the hooligan element is vastly outnumbered by those who just love football and wear the clothes to show others of that connection. The Football casual is only about football and the clothes. Is it not time for a new image?