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Beverley – A film in progress. Get involved.

11 Nov


Beverley is a film about a mixed race girl’s struggles to carve out a sense of identity in a confusing, shifting cultural landscape. A move from the decaying, poverty-stricken, urban environment to the relative comfort and theoretical safety of white suburbia does not provide the hope and opportunities Bev may have wished for. A familiar enemy is ever present – a threat that extends beyond her own safety – more importantly she must protect her brother and sister. By asserting her will and using her guile, Bev tries to shape her new environment into something palatable, but the result is the opposite of what she is trying to achieve.


At the heart of the film is the question of identity and in particular British identity, it’s the battle of one individual to define and assert their own identity in a society that doesn’t allow them much cultural capital. At the same time that battle is mirrored by the battle of society at large to define its own identity, something that Britain was struggling with in 1980 and really it’s the collision of those two forces that causes the tension, which is the heart of the drama in this film.

We feel that this mixed race identity that we’re seeking to investigate in this film Beverley, really hasn’t been significantly covered. Beverley herself says it best: “The issue of race is complex and none more so than for the mix-race population. How can you create an identity where none existed before you?”

The other reason we wanted to make Beverley as the next film project is simply that the 80s was the most diverse time for British youth subcultures and the one we’ve not seen in fiction film is the 2 tone movement. Beverley would be a fascinating film about this period which was really about British identity and multiculturalism.

The story of British culture and identity is not complete until a film is made that does justice to the legacy of Two Tone music and fully investigates the experience of mixed-race Britons.

To donate and get involved visit here:

One-Eyed Baz: The Story of Barrington ‘Zulu’ Patterson – Book Review

10 Apr

I felt compelled to write a review of ‘One Eyed Baz’ more than any book that I have read in recent years. Despite the menacing picture on the cover and genre that this book falls into, it flips the autobiographical crime book genre onto its head and gives the reader something that is gripping, stark and full of unflinching realism.


Yes, it’s the story of a hard-man but at the same time it is not the tale of an exaggerated Superman. ‘Baz’ has the humility to admit where he went wrong and when he was beat, which gives his life story a sense of honesty, which is sometimes missing within this genre of literature.

Born ‘Barrington Patterson’ in the Midlands during the mid-60’s the narrator was up against the odds from the start. At a time when unemployment was high and racial tension was higher, Barrington’s formative years shaped what was to become the man that he is today – One not to be messed with but one to be trusted.

Blinded in one eye during childhood, after a his sister threw a can at him, Barrington Patterson suffered the tirades and taunts of other children before realizing the only way to curb the teasing was to hit back. You get an understanding throughout the book that this is the reason Barrington hates bullies so much, he takes a very personal stance on this matter. He took these taunts into later life and revenge lay on the back-burner for his tormentors, the fire rage was just starting to ignite.

The books memorable tales of class struggle and the musical culture of the late 70’s early 80’s are brutally candid and are perfectly succinct. This was a desperate time when the UK was on a knife’s edge of political and economic struggle and the music and culture reflected these times.

Barrington Patterson started chiseling out his fighting skills on the streets and football terraces and he found a group of friends and a football team for life.

Home and away, Patterson and the ‘Zulu Army’ (Birmingham City’s hooligan firm) took on any other hooligan gangs that fancied their chances. There were plenty of takers as football related violence was sweeping the country, as lads took to dressing and playing up at football grounds all over the UK. Patterson is honest enough to admit when he and his firm took a kicking and he still retains a sense of humour throughout.

Patterson watched Bruce Lee films as a child and this influenced his career path after his youthful exploits on the terraces. This also gave him the discipline and focus to steer him away from a life in prison and it also put money in the bank.

From Judo, to Kick-Boxing and then Mixed Martial arts, Barrington Patterson excelled in all of these fields and along with his 4 children this gave him a driving force which led him to winning at least two major titles in MMA. Remember Barrington achieved this with the use of only one eye. This never stopped Patterson believing in what he could achieve and is an inspiration to anyone facing a tough life challenge.


Throughout the book friends of the author tell their version of events growing up, training and getting scrapes along the way with ‘Baz’. This form of narrative adds an extra dimension, as the stories’ characters get involved and tell their honest accounts that heighten the sense of realism already graphically prevalent throughout.

I read this book in less than 24hrs. I was gripped from the start. It’s not very often you pick up a book and get such an insight into a mind, a time, places, music, football and culture.

For that reason I honestly think this will become a classic in the crime genre. And trust me; I have only skimmed over the basics of the book here in this review. Pick up a copy and I promise you won’t put it down, as it’s a real page-turner and one I definitely will re-read.

Below is a selection of music that is suggested to go with this book.

Casuals Live. Post gig feature and trailer.

28 Nov

On the 10/11/2012 The Garage Highbury, one of the Mean Fiddler’s most prestigious venues, played host to the Casuals Live event. To say there was expectation in the air is an understatement. Vivid Riot Promotions and best-selling author and award-winning documentary maker Cass Pennant spent six weeks planning, promoting and organising this event, which was the very first of its kind.

A page from the gig programme

Bringing together four bands from across the UK, with four different styles, everyone at this event had one thing in common – A connection to the football casual scene and a love of music. A scene where music, clothing and diversity are always in abundance, this was the perfect combination for a gig with a difference.

As soon as the doors opened, the beer was flowing and the conversations were buzzing. The expectancy was electric and as DJ Dan Nolan span the first tunes of his DJ set, the smiles on everyone’s’ faces told a thousand stories. There were people from different football clubs, different walks of life and with very differing tastes but with thing uniting everybody– A love for culture on many different levels.

The job of opening Casuals Live went to Southend’s Plastic Youth. “Animal Style’ fizzed from the PA system and from the offset PY had people swaying to their brand of powerful literate Shoegaze. It was only a short set from PY but with the three songs they played, they certainly left their mark on the crowd. ‘Death Row’ finished a set with well-honed perfection. Job done and the event was well under way.

When it came to picking a band that lived and breathed the Casual scene, second band on the night, Reading’s Violet Class were a perfect choice. These lads live and breathe football culture. Kitted out in all the right clobber and Reading season ticket holders, they certainly looked the part but would their music be as smart as they looked?

Violet Class – Sound Check

Any questions about this bands music were answered after the band’s opener charged into life. ‘Socks on Shoes’ had hints of Ride and The La’s but also made you think, fuck, these boys have something special. The dancing at the front of the stage also put to bed any doubts that people would be standing still tonight – I only say that, because I fancied a boogie myself.

As the first chords of ‘Six Penny Step’ were strummed on the guitar the crowd broke out into rabid applause, this was a song that a lot of people were familiar with and were waiting for. Violet Class delivered the perfect rendition of the song and did themselves and their fans proud, whilst winning over of a whole host of new admirers along the way. Smart and to the point, Violet Class are going places.

Cass, gig programme, Section 60 and a Blue Collar.

As the beer carried on flowing and the DJ Dan Nolan continued to spin the tracks, every single person in the audience was now in full motion and had their dancing shoes on. I spoke to people who had travelled from as far away as Scotland and Dorset and many other places that showed how much dedication interest this event had created.

By the time The Blue Collars took to the stage, the area in front of the stage was now packed. “Alright, we’re The Blue Collars, from Stoke.” I actually thought that the buzz in the air couldn’t get anymore electric but I was very wrong. ‘This Old Town’ has had over 6000 views on You Tube and the prospect of hearing this popular song first was the best way for TBC to kick off. As soon as the song ended, applause rang out across the whole venue and people started pushing even closer to the front of the stage. The audience just wanted to feel a part of everything that was going on and The Blue Collars were more than happy to welcome them with open arms.

The Blue Collars

Melodic, angry and thought provoking are some of the words I would use to describe TBC but seriously, you have to see this band live to get the full range of emotions and intensity. They have the songs, the banter and the confidence to go very far and by the time they finished an exhilarating version of ‘Agree to Disagree’ the crowd were going crazy. Cass Pennant took to the microphone, “That was heavy duty or what?” The roar from the crowd was deafening and the sound of the whole audience singing, “Blue, Blue Collars” was cue for an encore. The Blue Collars closed their set with ‘The Dance One’ and front stage was a mass of jumping and clapping bodies. They came, they conquered. Enough said. Not bad for a support band, eh?

I actually felt sorry for Sheffield’s Section 60. I thought, how the fuck are they going to follow what has gone before them. I have been a fan of this band for some time and could tell straight away that they were here to do the business. “They have to raise the bar after The Blue Collars”, announced Cass Pennant and the boys came out in fighting mood and looked as smart as fuck.

Section 60 live.

‘Gunslingers’ the first tack in S60’s set has a bass line that gets into the very soul of you and could make a snail on valium stand to attention. The boys were back in London town and this time they are taking no prisoners.

When it comes to anthems, S60 walk with the likes of The Verve, Puressence and Oasis and they stand just as tall. Having one band that can move a crowd would have been incredible butting having four is testament of the young talent that is emerging from all over the UK and S60 stand at the forefront of this.

Section 60 and a full house.

‘The North Will Rise Again’ saw S60 bring the roof down. Anthemic, poetic and fucking ballsy, this track represents S60 perfectly. A performance this good only comes from years of practice and bundles of talent. A perfect end to a perfect night.

Cass Pennant, looked moved as he took to the microphone and announced that the whole thing had blown him away. I have to echo this sentiment. If you ask anyone who was at Casuals Live they will tell you that it was “A very special night to remember.”

Cass Pennant bringing the evening to a close.

Here is a you tube video that captures Casuals Live in all its glory.

Before I end this piece I would like to say a few thanks to people that made the night happen and also made it very special.

Thanks to our sponsors 80’s Casuals Classics and Peaceful Hooligan. Also to the following people – Jeff, Dan Nolan, Helen T, Jake, Nick S, Dave R, Mick Habeshaw Robinson, Jim Benner, Gemma, Mean Fiddler, Alex T, Vicky, Casual Way of Life, Jela, Kul Britannia, Street Sounds magazine Distant Echo, Cal, Clarkie, Dave E, Kate, all the bands on the night, and everyone who shared our event online and of course to every single one of you that came to the gig on the night. This will not be the last of this… Vivid Riot Promotions and Cass Pennant.

Vivid Riot and Cass Pennant Present Casuals Live Gig. The Garage, Highbury, London 10/11/2012

28 Sep
CASUALS LIVE! Featuring Section 60 + The Blue Collars + Violet Class + Plastic Youth + DJ Dan Nolan + MC Cass Pennant Tickets

CASUALS LIVE! Featuring Section 60 + The Blue Collars + Violet Class + Plastic Youth + DJ Dan Nolan + MC Cass Pennant Tickets Nov 10 2012 6:30 pm iCal

Upstairs at The Garage

Online music site VIVID RIOT presents a night celebrating the culture of Casuals with live music.  Sheffield’s Section 60 top a bill of great young guitar bands sporting the swagger of Oasis, the bombast of Kasabian and the melodic finesse of The Verve.  Cass Pennant, best-selling author and eponymous hero of the British feature film Cass, will compere.

The ticket price includes a copy of the award winning feature film DVD “Casuals”, a documentary exploring the early 80s fashion movement instigated by young football supporters from the terraces of British stadiums.

Age restrictions – 18+  (Photographic ID required for entry)


Tickets with lower booking fee available – Click Buy Now

Also buy tickets here:

Dan Nolan – The Casual

6 Jun

When it comes to a lot of modern dance music, I can take it or leave it these days. In the early 80’s I loved the Electro sound that was drifting robotically across the Atlantic and into the 90’s the hardcore rave seen stirred my musical loins.

After the aforementioned decades my interest in the electronic scene petered out – That’s not to say there was nothing of interest as the decades passed; Aphex Twin, The Prodigy and Burial created patterns that kept many people mesmerized, including myself to this day.

I have always craved dance music with brains – Not the sort of stuff that has an elephant farting in a can bass, repetitive vocals and generic keyboards. Dance music should always have atmosphere, soul and most importantly integrity. Commercial radio has never had the brains that pirate radio did when it came to pushing interesting danceable music that stirred the mind. Most radio music these days is there for background noise and little else, quality dance music was never designed for this reason. Dance music for me and many others was about getting up, feeling a rush and was something to cherish – You will not find many talking about the genius of Aphex Twin in the same sentence as Pendulum.

Here’s where Dan Nolan comes in…

Dan Nolan possesses a musical mind that is driven by a never ending quest for inspiration. There are not many people I know of making electronic music that was spawned by Ska, Punk, Kraftwerk, Roxy Music, Trevor Horn, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Afrika Bambaataa. Nolan’s music contains an impressive mix that takes me back to the heady days of electro and rave but has a futuristic brain that isn’t steeped in pointless retro reproduction.

Nolan’s latest release ‘The Casual’ has an artist reaching an ever towering peak. The tracks on this record were created for the Cass Pennant DVD ‘Casuals’. Nolan wanted the tracks to emulate the atmosphere that went with the feeling you experience when going to a football match and the casual culture that surrounds the scene.

Tension, euphoria, catharsis, sadness and beauty are all feelings encapsulated on ‘The Casual’; Nolan has created the best Dance album that I have heard since Burial’s debut.

‘Away Days ‘is the stand out track on this release. Think Visage’s Fade to Grey mixed with the darkly ambient waves of early Kraftwerk and you halfway there. The atmosphere in this track is at times both menacing and uplifting. It would make the trip to a “dodgy” away ground ten times scarier.

Listening to a track like “Spotters” showcases  talent and creativity that Nolan posses in abundance. A seriously intricate drum patterns fights against a flickering bass and the synth’ patterns are pure shimmering beauty. ‘Spotters’ is a track that demands the repeat button being glued down.

Hearing a release as strong as this has restored my faith in current dance music and I am positive that it will become a staple for this summer. Nolan has crafted and composed a work of sheer genius and I could praise this album for hours but in all honesty the only justice for this record is to buy it and give it your full aural attention. Congratulations Mr Nolan you have you have reached a peak that many can only dream of.

Dan Nolan gave us an exclusive interview and here’s what he had to say.

So, Dan… Tell us all about your music.

“The music I’m currently producing is what I call “Cool House”, also known as “Slow Mo'”. It’s massive in Glasgow. My good friend DJ Harri is producing and playing this type of house music and it’s just a great mood. I met a guy recently in Glasgow aka The Revenge and he’s also playing and producing this type of house music. I’m working on four new tracks in this style. Greg Wilson plays a more retro set but the tempo is the same. Re edits seem to be the thing too at the moment but I’d sooner create my own thing rather than use samples of other artists.”

“How did you initially get into music?”

“I got into music very early. I got to be good friends with Greg Wilson back in 1984. Electro was big and hip hop had just gone main stream. He was mixing and scratching on the decks back then and it blew my mind. He was also producing too. Greg was responsible for the UK Electro album and also The Rap Assassins. I got the bug from him really but when the dawn of acid house broke , that was it and I was in a studio in Stoke with DJ Welly making our first track early 1990. We were both bouncing all over the country attending warehouse parties in Blackburn and clubs like the Hacienda, Quadrant Park and The Pleasure Dome. We were blessed to be part of that scene. I’ve been involved in production ever since and been signed to Island Records, Manchester Underground. Done big remixes for Deconstruction Records , Dina Carroll and done tracks with Harri on Bomba Records. The late Sir John Peal was a fan!”

What were/are you musical influences?

“My biggest musical influences can stretch back to Punk in the mid 1970’s. I loved the Pistols, The Clash, and The Jam but I was also into the Plasmatics and X-Ray Spex . The Ska revival was a big influence on me as well. I love a happy Ska bass and a riddim guitar riff. The Beatles, The Kinks and The Small faces are important to me too. I also write lyrics and harmonies and those were three of the best song writing bands ever and Ray Davies drinks in my local in Highgate, which is fucking mental as he’s my idol! Obviously, Greg Wilson inspired me; the man is a fucking genius! From the electronic age, for me.

Also, Kraftwerk, Afrika Bambaataa and The Human League were all very important to me. Producers like Trevor Horn who made Frankie Goes to Hollywood what they were. Brian Eno/Roxy Music and the modern day producers like Andy Weatherall/Primal Scream. Sasha, Underworld , Massive Attack, Liam Howlett/Prodigy and The Chemical Bros. All these artists were hugely important at stages of my life. I could go on and on… But I won’t”

What are your influences outside of music?

“Aside from music I love a pint and football. Liverpool is my team, although it’s painful at the moment. I’ve gotten into art and even started messing about with paints myself. It goes without saying that my wife and son are the most important people to me and we always have great times either here in London, in Liverpool or abroad. The Glasgow crew is a special bunch and I love going up there to see them and get my inspiration topped up from the fantastic music they play. I’m a bit of a foodie, I love stuffing my face and quaffing wine the wife and I cook a mean roast so if you’re ever passing through Highgate Give us a shout, call in and help us rip a roast chicken apart.”

What have you released up until now?

“My releases to date have been quite a few. A lot as white labels in the early days under the name Void. Also releases under H Foundation, High Society, and Transient Blues/DjWelly. I had a successful remix reach number 20 in the charts back in 1992 for the Bassheads. I’ve written an album which was co-produced by John Kettle of the Tansads back in 2000. Got ‘The Casual’ out now and lots of irons in lots of fires. I’m very excited about things. It’s only taken me 20 yrs to get my arse in gear!”

How did you get involved with the ‘Casuals’ DVD and with Cass Pennant?

“I got involved with the casuals DVD through my wife, Helen . She’s a big Cardiff City Fan and Cass Pennant who produced the film wanted her to do an interview for the doc’/film as she was known in the (Soul Crew)    football family. She did her thing and asked Cass who was doing the music and Bob’s a your uncle, I got the gig along with Electronic Youth who by the way are fucking awesome, they’re gonna be massive.”

The artwork for your album is very impressive, can you tell us more about it?

“The art work was done by Rowan Newton who is absolutely brilliant. His work is being talked about as far as New York and he’s just had an exhibition In Milan. We’re mates now but I met him at art viewings in London.  There’s a great little buzz in London at the moment with some fucking superb artists, musicians, writers and creative types in general . Throw in the odd ex-football hooligan and it’s an interesting mix. We all get together most Thursday nights at various galleries and boozers in the city. I asked Rowan if he would do me a one off piece of Cass Pennant to accompany ‘The Casual’ album and he said, “No problem.” and the result is breath taking. It’s almost iconic! Rowan is a Top boy and an awesome talent. He’s going to be a wealthy man.”

What are your thoughts on The Casual DVD and how did that scene influence you?

“I think the ‘Casuals’ DVD is great. For me, I was going to watch my beloved Liverpool at the time the casual scene was born. Again, I feel lucky to be part of another chapter in youth culture. I suppose in my head I was a casual, I did my best to have the clobber but being 1 of 4 kids it was hard to get the labels. My folks just couldn’t do it. We used to run into sports shops and do snatch and grabs! I always ended up with one trainer or size 38 waist tracksuit bottoms. I’m 42 now and still got the Lacoste polos and Munchen trainers. I think casual is part of what my wife calls the Peter Pan generation. We can’t seem to grow up. The DVD is a great insight into a part of history, a part of Thatcher’s lost generation. Also the last proper fashion youth statement.”

So, what are your plans for the future and is there anything else you would like to add?

“I have so many plans and ideas not just for now but for years ahead. My son Harry is a very talented guitarist and pianist and I want to nurture his ability. He’s only 13 and he’s already performed with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with his own composition. I want to stay close to Cass. He’s a top man and a very wise. He makes things happen and brings people together. I’m hoping to be involved with some art shows involving things all music, fashion, protest and pictures. I’ve got another album on the go and I’ve an album finished but I need to raise funds so I can get the vocals recorded. Making money in the music business is not very easy but the Mrs. believes in me and I believe in what I do. As long as you believe anything is possible. Ask Didier Drogba. Best wishes to all who read this and big thanks Vivid Riot.” 

A ‘casual’ stroll through football, fashion and music.

24 Jan

There was one youth subculture that got up the noses of the establishment more than any other in history. They were clued up, dressed up and had an attitude that went beyond realms of any other movement before them.

When it came to shaking things up this lot knew how, where and when to be. It’s not Skinhead, it wasn’t Mod and wasn’t the ripped up anger of the punks. ‘Casual’ embraced everything that went before them but they weeded the shit out of the garden of England and grew into something that is still creating ripples to this day.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the moniker ‘Casuals’.  In the late 70’s, Everton and Liverpool football clubs were both taking part in European cup competitions. The fans from the Mersey travelled everywhere to follow their teams and on these travels the opportunity came to literally smash, grab and steal whatever goods were available on the continent. This usually meant exclusive designer clothing.

Steaming in. Old School.

The skinheads that attended football matches in the late 60’s and early 70’s started to get their steel toe-capped Doctor Martin boots taken away as a safety measure and at some grounds and the laces were removed by the Police at others. Skinhead fashion was always aggressively working class and the Police now had an easily recognizable target for trouble started at football. A movement to supersede the ‘boot boys’ was hiding just around the corner.

The police confiscating boots and laces.

English football casuals took every chance to watch the national team play, with every trip abroad becoming working holidays for some.  Stolen gear was sold as soon as the casuals were back in the UK. Labels started appearing that today sound familiar but in the 80’s, Lacoste, Sergio Tachinni, Ellesse, Gabichi and Fila held certain mysticism for lads that wanted to stay one step of their rivals in the fashion and fighting stakes.

Unlikely Style icons.

The casual look and attitude was just what the football lads needed to avoid the police detection that the skinheads suffered before them. The establishment didn’t expect anyone involved in football violence to be wearing a dearstalker hat, a Barbour jacket and Italian desinger tracksuits.

Footwear also played a huge part in the casual scene and Addidas were at the forefront of innovative trainer production during this period. Adidas have re-issued an Originals range that includes the casual classics Forest Hills and Trim Trabb. Fila and Sergio Tachinni have also released vintage  clothing ranges that use the original designs that were first produced in the 80’s. It just goes to show that there is still a market for these garments and the film industry has also helped with this resurgence. Never turn up at a football match with a bastard pair of trainers on – ask anyone who did, they won’t do it again!

Trim Trabb. Timeless.

As the labels started flooding the terraces, new streams of fashion appeared every week. Lads who once had cropped hair and thought long hair was for girls sported the much groomed wedge haircut. People that were looking like they had stepped off a tennis court or from an 80’s music video started travelling up and down the country on trains using cheap rail fare tokens torn from Persil washing powder boxes.

The inspiration for the wedge haircut. 

 Persil – All good clean fun.

For the football following youth of the 80’s, it was an adventurous and exciting time. Getting off a ‘Football Special’ train with all your mates, dressed to the nines and bowling about like you owned the place, was just the beginning of the buzz. Travelling to certain grounds for out of town supporters was becoming very risky business during the casual era but this was also part on the buzz. If there were just a few of you – you may have got the classic line, “ere mate, you got the time?” Always a tense moment for anyone in this situation, if your accent wasn’t regional, then your luck was up. This was a cue for it to “kick off.” For those that travelled in big numbers the thought in the back of the minds was one of anticipation. If you were confronted by another mob that were not going to let you stroll about like you owned the place it was game on in terms of the fighting. Week in week out, lads from all over the country got addicted to the buzz of football adrenaline and fashion changes. Just like youth cults before it, casual was new, exciting, and dangerous and people put a real effort and passion into it.

The early days of the “Football Special” trains.

The casual scene does exist to this day but not in the sense that it once did. Mass production has reduced the quality of a lot of goods and the ability to ship things from all over the world at a click of a button has taken away the one – upmanship that was once the essence of the casual culture.

“Dressers” still attend football matches, listen to decent music and look the part and if anything casual needs more dedication than ever. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen people wearing the same things at football, but I can memorize the amount of times that I have seen the way someone is dressed and football and thought, that person looks smart in every sense. It’s all about being clued up, as they say.

Stone Island – One of the most ubiquitous casual labels.

Casual was also a youth culture that had mass diversity when it came to the music that was in any discerning casual’s collection. I bet if you asked three people who were into the scene in the early 80’s about the music they listened to, you would get three different answers.

Ska, Reggae, Punk, Electro, Oi, Northern Soul, Madchester, Rave, all genres that attracted the casuals. Bands even had casual elements at gigs. The Cockney Rejects had a West Ham Following, The Farm had a huge following in Liverpool, Chelsea fans amongst others loved the early Ska and early Reggae, Cock Sparrer attracted football fans from many different clubs but there was one band that unified casuals more than any – The Jam.

The Jam had the lot. They looked sharp, had a style that set them apart and most importantly, they were brimming with vitriolic anger and were 100% working class. The Jam crossed paths with the Skins, Punks, Mods, Casuals and Soul Boys and to be honest, I can’t think of a band in history that had an audience as diverse as The Jam. The Jam are and were the ultimate casuals band. What was to follow would change it all.

The Jam. “Life is new and there’s things to be done”.

In the late 80’s, the rave scene came along and the casuals found a different reason to travel the length and breadth of the country. It wasn’t a new cup competition, it was dancing rather than fighting that was on the agenda. The ‘top boys’ from football firms all around the country started attending and putting on raves. People that were once fighting on the terraces were now hugging in fields.

From tooled up to loved up.

The drug ecstasy started a new wide-eyed revolution and the thought of getting up for a football match after dancing for ten hours or more was becoming less appealing for most. Dropping an’E’ and raving to acid house music became the craze of the 90’s and again the police got involved. 20,000 people dancing to thumping music in a field, whilst taking drugs was too much again for those in power. Add a sleepy farmer waking up to bass and bleeps at three in the morning, co-operation was thin on the ground. Middle England was up in arms, yet again.

The Criminal Justice bill was introduced in the early 90’s to quash any illegal events that were taking place in the UK and the rights of anyone meeting in groups for any public activity was becoming harder.

The Rave scene in its original state was put to bed and to anyone that was there at the start, it felt like it never recovered.

A common site at most grounds these days.

The Criminal Justice Bill included something that spelt trouble for anyone involved in football related violence going into the mid 90’s and beyond. The Section 60, which increased police powers of unsupervised “stop and search” was introduced. The police now had the power to take photographs of known football firms and banning orders and prison sentences were the final death knell for anyone involved in football related instances from the early 90’s onwards. Put a CCTV camera on every street corner and the risk for most now outweighed the buzz of the original football scene. For many the game is over but for others the adrenaline is as pure as it always was…

“We’re the stars of CCTV.”

In the next part of this feature, I decided to speak to some of the people that were involved in the casual scene in the 80’s

Starting with Cass Pennant, who was part of West Ham’s Inter City Firm and was in and around the subculture from the start. Cass has written numerous related football books, had a film about his life made and most recently released a DVD on casual culture itself, ‘Casuals.’

Looking back, how has the casual scene changed and personally do you think it is still alive and kicking today? 

“The original casual scene at its height and will always be the tennis wear heyday from 81-84, then came the rave era in 87, that started and was the blowing out of the casual scene until the Stone Island, Burberry and Aquascutum baseball cap wearing 90s which was finally for me when the entire North were all dressing and going to England games.

Not much changed, except the loss of hair and expanding waistbands until the vision of Neil Primet started a retro clothing company called ’80’s Casual Classics’ after noticing old skool casuals had used E-Bay to locate the finest gear we ever wore in the 80’s and now its all relevant today with all those 80’s brands back on our high streets. It should never be too mainstream for some of us, but the big difference is, nobody is following anyone as to what is in or out, it’s really personal choice and also the joy of getting gear in XL and XXL, which being a original fashion of youth is something of a big give-away as to who are the real authentic wearers. Another give-away is a white sole on your Diadora Borg Elite or Adidas Forest Hills trainers.

Cass Pennant with Peter Hooton from The Farm.

What music were you listening to at the time of the casual movement?

The early London football casual scene was sort of 78-80 and so diverse musically and because you had these different and rival subcultures driven by youth that used their UB40 cards to get into gigs cheaper, or they became of part of a band entourage by being roadies, or even forming their own bands. The transit hire van would stop off somewhere from an away match to catch a band on tour and depending who it was they’d be following that scene for next few games. The East End boys did them all, from Sham 69, The Jam, Cockney Rejects and the mod revival going on at the Bridge House in Canning Town – this was the Newham area lads, the Essex lads were far older, they were still Floyd, Zepp’ and pub venues that played classic rock, while the non-East London West Ham lads I knew were very much ‘soul boys’ that followed the Ilford, Canvey Island and Southend club scenes. The Lyceum ballroom I avoided, as much of the West End had North and South London football lads.

My stand alone memory of the time, was a transit drive to Madrid for Castilla v West Ham in the Cup Winners Cup. Everyone took their own cassette tapes and having won the FA Cup beating Arsenal, the Cockney Rejects tracks ‘Bubbles’ and ‘West Side Boys’ were all the rage. Then Grant Fleming forced on pirate tracks of an Irish band he said was U2 -total different sound to anything we had heard and continued plays had everyone blown away by time we drove into Madrid.

The East End was now turning to disco pubs from Stratford to Bethnal Green full of posers but wearing your MA jacket to football and then going to gigs was still all about being a tasty geezer. Then the pirate soul radio of JFM and Horizon etc exploded around the same time. The younger football lads I call the ‘Thatcher’s children’ started to put the colour into Casual, with the track tops, fraying the Lois cord bottoms and diamond Pringle jumpers. By the time I’d come out of doing remand and then a prison sentence from 81 and’82, that one-time geezer crew had firmly got into Jazz funk, Brit funk and into birds. Great days for the music of Southern Freez, Beggar & co, Shakatak, all them – never forget it. We all went to the same places but like as one now, with the black lads from Leytonstone and Canning town all properly on the firm.

The Cockney Rejects. The pride of the East End.

Why do you think casuals had such a diverse taste in music considering most youth movements stuck to one or two genres?

The football lads would often be the influential in crowd by nature but on the terraces it’s a gathering of various groups with the common ground being supporters of the same team. Travel had opened up to be affordable with firms now travelling to the game and for some of us it had become part of the day and adventure. Going to different towns taught you about different music scenes on a regular basis. Before that, youth sub-cultures remained regional and only ventured out on bank holidays, or to venues and gigs that entertained only their own sub-culture, while the football casual scene was a sub-culture born off the terraces and unlike every movement before it was not coming from music. Think about it, the teddy boys hit off from rock & roll, the original skins, it was from the reggae, mods from beat clubs, soul boys South and North came from the club scene and the punks from punk music. The casuals never came from any music link, so it was always going to out last the movements that created their scene from the music and die with it the moment it becomes mainstream.

Freez and their brand of funky dance.

What were your favourite items of clothing during the casual era and your worst?

The distinct black and white dog tooth patterned full length beltless Burberry mac that I wore in the Hooligan documentary about the ICF in the 1984-5 season. Same film that I bellowed out the now infamous quote of , “Kiddie Firm” to the Chelsea hordes on the train opposite us wearing a bright blue Burberry short Harrington style jacket. Both these items were unique and one-offs for their colour and pattern, because at the time the tin-tack macs were like FBI style coats in only navy or beige, same with their jackets. The bright blue Burberry I acquired from Spanish mainland while on a day trip shopping from the fighting going on in Magaluf between rival English football firms. The overcoat mac was from Burberry and sold as a one-off design they were not going to run with.

My film production ‘Casuals’ has everyone wanking over their trainers and what must my pair of size 12, all white Ellesse, long pointy nose shape that the lads called my “torpedoes” think? They had the Ellesse badge protruding out on the back of the heel. They were from Europe, from a thieving trip by the Under-Fives who could not find anyone in the pub that was a size 12. By the time they came to me, I knew the reason and would only part with a fiver to teach the thieves a lesson (rob a popular size next time). Never ever in all my travels saw another pair anywhere in the country, I got ribbed for their shape that made them look size a 15 but boy was they the softest leather trainer ever. If I knew the name (That’s the trouble when gear comes unboxed) I would have searched high and low on E-Bay today-they would be worth a mint.

Burberry was the order of the day.

Which songs would you choose to sum up the casual era of the 80’s?

The Whispers – And the Beat Goes On, because of a mental mad weekend in Blackpool with the young ICF. We had it with groups of Burnley, Man Utd, Leeds, Celtic and everywhere we went, one of us had to carry the portable double-decker tape player that everyone called, (totally politically incorrect to say now) ‘Ghetto Blasters’. Our escape was made from the guest-house when word came back to us that all these firms were now joining up looking for West Ham Cockneys. So after a mad dash, we enter the station running, where we came across Man City and Wigan having it. Decide now, wait for the train, or pick a side and join the fight? Wigan outnumbered, so we sided with them and saw City off. Wigan and West Ham on same train and buddies now, then as we approach near Crewe, the Wigan we had helped, they try turn on us… Which was a big mistake.

The same Whispers track (pre-release off pirate radio) was on continuous play on this massive silver double deck tape recorder and someone commented and we all nodded in agreement that the film ‘The Warriors’ had nothing on us as the Inter-City hurtled back South. That song and weekend summed up a dawn of the casual in West Ham ranks. A young crew of unknowns, dressed like London spivs and fought like gangsters, that had gone from Cockney Rejects into Jazz funk and soul overnight – like Jam to Style Council, plus this new attitude of have money and will travel together and with the Thatcher attitude that everything starts and ends at London. These boys emerging were like all mini guv’nors.

The Whispers – And the Beat Goes on.

The North’s liking for the electro beat bands never really did it for our lot but if it had a terrace anthem edge to it like ‘Don’t you Want Me Baby’ byThe Human League they would be in on the sing-along, but if I go back to Brit-Funk outfit Freez when in ’83 their video I.O.U was first seen. The casuals I knew were quick to notice the Sergio Tacchni wear, with the split frayed Lois jeans and cords worn by the kids body-popping in the video, wearing Nike Wimbledon’s and Adidas Samba.

An absolute classic. This was the future.

Cass’ casuals DVD is well worth a watch for anyone interested in this subject matter and is available on DVD now.

The next person for the interview treatment was Garry Bushell. Garry wrote for the music paper Sounds in the 80’s and was one of few mainstream journalists aware of casual culture and the people and music involved.

When did you first become aware of the casual movement, as at the time I think you were writing for Sounds?

The Casuals were a terrace phenomenon, they incubated in and around football grounds, so it was predominantly a working class thing and I really became aware of it around 1980/81. The people who became those first Casuals had been Mods, and skinheads, and Glory Boys who I knew. It grew out of other working class cults

At football matches, the police were looking for crops and DMs not blokes in Farahs and trainers with wedge haircuts and too much jewellery; so Casual made sense

The papers were still going on about skinheads for years after the real terrace hooligans had moved on

You put the band Accent on the front cover, which at the time caused quite a stir. Basically, from what I know, seeing a group of smartly dressed lads on the front of a rock magazine was not in keeping with ethos of Sounds. What attracted you to the band?

Sounds had a Mod sensibility at its core, and there are huge parallels between Mod in the sixties and Casual in the early eighties. Think about it, the love of clothes, and looking good, the love of black music, fighting and the odd line of sulphate. They’re the same thing a generation apart. And both were driven by the need to be the best, to be the ace face.

I didn’t go out looking for a casual band, but I had my ear to the ground in those days and I was listening out for anything new and interesting.

Why do you think there were not that many bands that calling themselves “casual”?

When people talk about Mod bands they talk about rock bands like The Who, and the Small Faces, but the music Mods listened to was predominantly black soul music. With the first modernists it was jazz, but then it was Motown and Stax and early Ska. Mods had been going for years before the Who had their first hit. And it felt the same with the first Casuals who were in to black music to begin with. Knowing the roots of the cult, I would have expected a casual band to be a direct descendent of a band like The Jam – that combination of smartness, good tunes and lyrical sharpness. Although having said that, the first band who dressed like Casuals were the East End Badoes from Poplar who played fairly raucous Oi music. They were formed by Skully from West Ham and Terry Hayes who was Millwall, but their career went down the gurgler….

The EEB’s are back! 

Were you surprised at the diversity of the musical tastes of the football crowd?

No, even the people who followed the Cockney Rejects at the start had widely varied musical tastes; people are rarely as easily pigeon-holed as they’d appear to be on the surface

Casual wasn’t music based. I think Casuals were a movement based around fashion, which incubated around football terraces. Suddenly the West Side and The Shed became the cat walks! and the first Casuals valued the hottest new black music : jazz funk and early rap

Derek B. This track blew open the UK rap scene. 

Which three songs, sum up the casual era for you?

From a rock point of view, All Together Now by The Farm, We Are Lost by Accent, The Way It’s Gotta Be by the East End Badoes… although there are jazz-funk songs that touched many more people than the Badoes ever did! More Casuals had heard of Harvey Mason and Bobby Lyle than Terry Hayes, much as I love him.

The Farm – All Together Now

To sum it up. How would you describe the casual movement from a personal point of view?

Casual was about looking good, and being hard and sharp. It wasn’t set in time, it was an evolving look, that started with Lacoste, Slazenger and Pringle and developed into the most exclusive ski wear they could get their hands on. The problem for bands like Accent was by the time they’d come through, most of the actual casuals had moved away from designer labels.

Next up is self-proclaimed former casual and one time member of the casual band Accent, Mick Habenshaw Robinson.

How did you get into the casual scene?
Living in Fulham it was all around – local pubs/ clubs but primarily football. Chelsea was my team. Spotting diamond Pringles, deerstalkers etc.
The legendary Pringle.
Where were you buying your clothes from at the time and what clothes labels do you like these days.
Stuarts in Sheperds Bush mainly but also Aquasctum, Scotch House , Later on Gee2. Now it’s Ralp Lauren, Westwood, Lacoste and Billionaire Boys Club.
How did the band Accent form and what were your influences?
We were all friends and had been in different bands who kind of
grouped together. Brian (singer) and me were the  original and regular members and wrote the songs. Steve, on guitar, was an old mate from school days, Chris, the drummer, was through an advert in a music paper. Influences were The Jam, punk and post punk bands.
How many releases did the band have and how many gigs did you play and was the response to the band positive?  
One single, 50 odd gigs, built up a following and always had a positive/lively response. It got to the stage where we could fill the Fulham Greyhound.
Accent – We are lost.
What bands/artists were you listening to during that period?
The Jam, Clash, New Order I was also getting into soul (through the Jam b-sides initially) some electro as well.
What were your favourite items of clothing at the time and which ones do you think were the worst?
Deer stalkers, I still think that was an amazing sight, the early diamond Pringle jumpers and Trim Trabb trainers.
Personally, I never liked the Bennetton rugby shirts.
The Deerstalker. Yes, these were the rage.
Do you think the casual scene exits still, in any shape or form, or is it all just a re-hash of what went before?
In the ‘Casuals’ DVD it showed the kids who are currently  into the casual/ mod crossover which was nice. I think the knock on effect of casuals is still around, but as a movement, no. There is a cut off age for wearing tracksuits. Ha-ha.
What is your best memory of that Era?
Playing at Chelsea, appearing on the cover of Sounds, Gary Bushell
reviewing our gigs and deer stalker hats! The buzz at football too, it was exciting and also extremely passionate.

Accent’s gig at Stamford Bridge.

What was the reaction to the band after you appeared on the cover of Sounds?
In the Sounds it was awful, they were trad’ rock based. The readers couldn’t stand it all. They hated casuals and football. It did get more people at our gigs and led to an interest from big record labels, although we didn’t get signed.
Did Casual influence in you in any way as you got older and left the scene?

Yes, the attitude and confidence that looking smart can give you and the desire to dress up and wanting to improve yourself in appearance. I always head straight for the Lacoste Shop at the airport, even if I don’t buy anything – just looking in awe at all different colours you can get in a polo shirt.  Ditto with Ralph Lauren. If i’m ever in New York , seeing all the cheap Ralphie gear, I am literally in heaven.

The Lacoste polo shirt. Never out of fashion.

Next up I asked Danny Brown AKA  ‘Black Danny’ who was in Aston Villa’s C-Crew a few questions. Danny wrote a book on his exploits following Villa called ‘Villians’ and was in and around the casual scene as it took off.

When did you first notice the casual scene taking off and where?

I first noticed the casual scene in 1980 with lads kitted out at London clubs in Fred Perry shirts. The following years Manchester and Liverpool lads had a fusion of clothing that was second to none.

How deeply were you into the casual clothes and what were you wearing at the time?

Early 80s when Villa where playing in Europe, I would spend a good deal of time in France and Italy getting those sought after items of clothing such as Lacoste, Fila and Tacchini, which couldn’t be bought in the UK at the time.

What were your favourite items of clothing from that era and the ones you really didn’t like?

My favourite items of clothing; Adidas track suits, samba trainers and Slazenger jumpers. I didn’t like classic Kickers shoes or Ben Sherman shirts.

Adidas Samba. A terrace legend.

What music were you listening to at the time and did you go to a lot of gigs?

Mixed with the rave scene and street culture of the era, I was also into Reggae, Jazz Funk, Rap, R&B.  I went to many gigs all over the country; my favourite club was The Haçienda inManchester. The Haçienda was labelled the most famous club in the world by Newsweek magazine.

If one club defined the 80’s it was Manchester’s Haçienda.

Do you think the casual scene has survived or do you think it’s past its best?

The casual scene is still alive and kicking, though I’d say the format is watered down.

Give us three songs that sum up the era for you?

The Clash – Armagideon Time. Grandmaster Flash – The Message. Dennis Brown – Stop Your Fighting.

The streets of America came to the charts. A timeless 80’s classic.

Do you still go to football much these days and how do you view the modern game with all the SKY TV and multi-Millions of pounds spent on players?

Yes I still go to most home matches atVilla Park, and meet up with the same lads on a Saturday afternoon. Things have changed massively to the extent it’s a different place, with modern stands and building going up left right and centre. If you look at the rate of development within most football grounds, they are almost unrecognizable from the grounds I went to in the 80’s. In some way it’s a shame, but you can’t expect fans to watch Premiership football in an undeveloped ground in these modern times. As for the Sky Sports and the multi-millions of pounds spent on players, to be fair, I don’t blame the players. I hope the people who run the FA have a plan B if Sky Sports decides not to renew contracts.

Lastly, I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone involved in helping with this feature.  Without the help of Cass Pennant, Garry Bushell Mick Robinson and ‘Black Danny’ most of this would have have remained an idea. Cheers and thank you for your help and support.

Footnote: This was written out of a sheer a passion for football, music and clothing. I would never claim to be an ‘expert’ on any of these subjects but I have always loved all three and I hope this feature conveys those feelings and emotions that I have felt for the last three decades.

Here are some links relevant to all the subjects covered in this feature.


Author websites:


The above is Mick Robinson’s radio show. Seriously, this is the best radio show there is!

General sites of interest: