Book Review: The Little Book of Casuals – Football fashion from the 1980s by Scottie

Growing up in the 1970s the I-Spy books were something I collected. They covered all sorts of topics from the sights of London, various forms of transport, nature and science, to sports including football. The purpose was to spot the various objects listed within the book so ticking them off. In today’s high-tech, digital age, this concept wouldn’t excite many youngsters, but back then it passed as something both entertaining and educational.

What, you might ask, has this got to do with The Little Book of Casuals? Well, quite simply this 144 page book, measuring just 4 inches by 6 inches (no metric here for this old timer), reminded me of those childhood I-Spy books. However, the only problem being that you would need a time-machine to go through author Scottie’s journey from 1981 to 1986 ticking off the changing look of the Casuals during those years.

There will be those who turn their nose up at this offering, citing that the books featuring the Casuals scene is nothing but glorification and glamorisation of some of the worst years of football hooliganism in the UK and abroad. And yes whilst there are many books out there that do precisely that, that is not something that can be aimed at this latest release from the excellent Conker Editions stable.

Instead Scottie, based on his own experiences during the early part of the 1980s has put together a neat guide to the changing hair, clothes and footwear that became part of terrace culture during that time. The illustrations that accompany the text are wonderful in showing the constant switch to new brands and styles that swept through the ranks of any self-respecting Casual.

So be prepared for a trip down memory lane as tennis, golf and other sporting brands as well as established fashion names, that became de rigueur in and around the grounds of the Football League such as Fred Perry, Slazenger, Pringle, Lyle & Scott, Fila, Lacoste, Ellesse, Sergio Tacchini, Adidas, Kappa, Armani, Burberry and Benetton, are all detailed in glorious colour within the pages of this tiny gem.

And whilst you may think that every transition in the ‘clobber’ and the price tag they afforded provided the Casual with an appearance of coolness, think again as Scottie highlights some of the oddities of the period. Take for instance the 1982 phase of dungarees and fisherman’s jumper, the 1983 appearance of the Sherlock Holmes inspired deerstalker hat, or indeed the 1985 penchant for half-and-half ski hats.

The Casual scene is part of the history of the game in this country, which has a continued influence on what we see today. Some of the clothes and footwear of that period continue to be popular in a significant retro market with Adidas Gazelles or Samba and Fila Settanta polo part of many a wardrobe. And whilst Scottie’s book comes to a stop in 1986, the subsequent years have seen the fashion changes continue with various labels coming and going, although no longer on the terraces, but the safe standing and seats in the stadiums of the 21st Century.

(Publisher: Conker Editions Ltd. September 2023. Paperback: 144 pages)


Buy the book here: Casuals

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Book Review: The Hooligans Are Still Among Us by Michael Layton and Bill Rogerson

Books about football hooliganism by those involved in it has become an industry in itself, so to get to read and review a title offering a view from the side of the police is a welcome change. Authors Michael Layton and Bill Rogerson can rightly speak from years of experience with long careers in the British Transport Police, having witnessed at first-hand ‘action’ on the frontline.

One interesting thing to note from the off when reading this book is the title. The Hooligans Are Still Among Us is emblazoned across the front cover, and appears to stand as a statement or fact, that this is the current situation. This seems slightly at odds then with the Foreword from Paul Robb QPM in which he asks the reader, Are the hooligans still amongst us? If this is one of the purposes of the book in posing the question and then the content providing evidence one way or another, would it not make sense for the book title to have been in the form of a question rather than a statement?

Over the various chapters the authors cover the early years of hooliganism and the rise of what has become describe as the ‘English disease’ from the 1960s, before focusing on events in the 2015/16 season and the 2016 European Championship Finals in France.

The 2015/16 campaign is detailed through various accounts from officers on duty and records of disturbances up and down the country on trains, stations and stadiums in the chapters, Hooligans on the Move and Disorder on the Streets and at Stadiums. The sheer volume of the reports indicates that the issue of hooliganism is still with us, but the chronological detailing can come across as a rather dry read at times.

Given this book was published in 2017, it was interesting to read about the issue with Russians hooligans in the Euros a year earlier and the concern that at the 2018 World Cup, there would be a serious problems. However, as we know the tournament passed off without major incident and the organised gangs seen in France were not in evidence.

The later chapters then move onto issues such as racism and sectarianism, a look at the more infamous firms and the change in policing methods as the fight to combat hooliganism continues. As with some of the earlier content, the outline details of the Clubs with notorious hooligans becomes rather listee and are so brief that one wonders what purpose they actually achieve. It would perhaps have been more interesting to read more detail about the future and the issues at non-league level as those banned from the professional game take advantage of games with next to no policing and limited stewarding, further down the football pyramid.

As someone who regularly attends football up and down the country and allied to the reported incidents during the current season (2018/19), it is apparent that whilst there are not the issues in the grounds that pervaded at the height of the problem back in the day, hooliganism is still with us.




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