This past Monday suprisingly saw the return of hooligan-laden English football circa 1985. Hooligans, head-butts and pitch invaders all made for a completely bizarre and violent affair at Villa Park with fans running amok and hooligans covering their faces as missiles were readied to attack the visiting fans. The match died in the closing minutes, but the fans kept the game alive and viewers riveted to their televisions. Both Birmingham City and Aston Villa are facing relegation to Division One and this derby match was sure to see fireworks, but I don’t think anybody thought it would end quite like this.
In the later stages of the match, with the score 1-0 in favor of Birmingham, Villa striker Dion Dublin dove into City midfielder Robbie Savage and ran though his shin, sending Savage sprawling. The reaction from the other players was immediate. Soon, Dublin was being held back by his own while being pushed around by Birmingham City players as he tried to get at Savage. The pitch was an absolute mess of angry players and helpless referees. For a moment, Savage met face to face with Dublin and Dublin lunged in and head-butted Savage in a moronic and juvenile outburst. Savage, not exactly known for his friendly demeanor on field, played it up and fell to the ground, drawing the red card for Dublin and sending Villa down to ten men with a third of the match to go.
Villa Park erupted in a thunderous roar and numbers of fans swelled at the divider where they adjoined Birmingham City away fans. Scarves and coats began to cover faces and police moved in swiftly to stop any violent retaliation to the visiting fans. Although there was little in the way of scuffles shown on camera, 27 Villa fans will be in court later this month on football-related violence charges.
If there was any doubt that hooliganism has disappeared from the terraces, this is confirmation that no matter what the FA do, there will always be football-related violence. So many books have been written on the glory of traveling with your friends, drinking and beating the hell out of rival fans that it seems as if it has taken on somewhat of a rosy hue when looked at through the eyes of younger football generations.
Hooliganism I can neither condemn, nor support and itIs presence I cannot deny. ItIs ugly when viewed from afar, but there is an element of war-like glory that shines through the foggy lens with which we view hooliganism. Staying by your friendIs side, driving back a group of hooligans larger than you and conquering the terraces all become battles with out a war to be won. The war is constant and losses from one season carry over to the next as fans remember when their team got railed and by whom.
It is part of the group aesthetic that draws us to football, I think. Watching the games on TV (as I have to) lets you merge with the team for the game. Every goal scored is a small victory and every play contributes to the constant back and forth battle on the pitch. This is part and parcel with the experience of being a hooligan, those tough, devoted and stylish villains. But the events of this past Sunday proved that there will never be a complete detachment from the violence that plagued the 1980s. There may be safer stadiums for the fans and a stronger police presence, but it is only more controlled, not dead.
1986 Dress Code for Casuals
In Callum Bell’s Saturday is Service Day, he includes some copies of flyers sent out during the salad days of 1980s hooliganism. Each contains a short list of traveling times to the games and bars to meet at when traveling accommodations are arranged, but the best part is the long list of fashionable clothes. Thought you might enjoy this:
Gear Guide: What to Wear in 1986
This is basically a guide to what will be in in 1986. Forget the media shit i.e. pringles, sports wear, white trainers, etc. This is what to wear and where to buy it:
Benetton:For jumpers, shirts, jeans, etc. You canIt go wrong wearing this.
Next:Jumpers, jackets, shirts in fact even footwear.
Studio:A good selection of shirts, jeans and jackets and basically trendy gear.
Other shops to look out for: Burberrys, The Warehouse, Chelsea Man and Fosters.
Labels to look out for: Sabre, Giorgio Armani, Barrie and also Farrah Slacks.
This list made me laugh at first, but just like any tight subculture, there is a dress code and a form to conform to. Casuals and hooligans alike will forever be dressing up, just as skinheads and mods continue to do.
The white trainers, designer jeans and track suits were the early dress code; usually Italian brands like Ellisse, Diadora, Kappa and so on. There were so many different dress codes through the years that it would be hard to try and put them all into a list, but my favorite statement about casuals’ dress sense comes from the same newsletter as the fashion list above. It says quite simply at the end: “Dress to Kill.”
It’s beautiful, in a sick kind of way.