Tag Archives: cass pennant

Beverley – A short film. 80’s Britain revisited.

22 Nov

80’s Britain was a melting pot on all social and political levels. It was a time of high unemployment, racial tension, riots and the threat of nuclear war hung in the air like a mushroom cloud of gloom throughout most of the decade.

Anyone from a working class family that left school during the Thatcherite years faced the prospect of standing at the back of the dole queue. The miners were chucked on the slag heap, police brutality was common place and the youth rebelled.

Football hooliganism, Casuals, Mods, Skinheads, New Romantics, the second wave of punk, all flourished during the 80’s. At a time when material wealth was not the order of the day, the youth took the DIY ethic to heart. Creativity was shown in personal ways still echoed to this day.

Music became angrier and so did the kids.  “If the kids are united”, sang Sham 69”- a rally call that was more of a plea, as youth cultures and races clashed on what seemed like a daily basis. The police brought in the Special Patrol Group to control rioting youngsters and adults alike. The SPG idea backfired massively, as the heavy-handed tactics of the group resulted in many incidents of police brutality.

One band during the punk era did fuse a link between racial and musical cultures. The Ruts, later to become Ruts DC were the heir to The Clash’s punk reggae throne. Formed in the late 70’s, The Ruts pulled together Punk and Reggae influences and fans of both genres alike. Front-man Malcolm Owen sang about Rude boys, Jah and proclaimed the fact that Babylon was burning. The political message made perfect sense to alienated black and white youths and the music wore its influences on its red gold and green safety pinned sleeves. The Ruts were active in The Rock Against Racism movement and played many of the gigs that were held under this banner. Lead sing Owen died of a suspected drug overdose but The Ruts left a great legacy and the band continue under The Ruts DC banner to this very day.

In the early 80’s punks and skinheads clashed as the mods and rockers did years before. The skins split into two factions – There were the highly nationalistic right-wing skinheads and there were skinheads that loved the original ska and reggae once championed by the mods that came to the UK via the first Jamaican immigrants that settled in British Isles.  Punks went into two main groups- On one side you had the Anarcho punks that lived by the non-violent anarchist ethics of bands like Crass, Conflict and The Subhumans. On the other side you had the punks and skunx (skinhead punk hybrid) that were into a punk spin-off called Oi.

Oi was punks in the pub on the streets older brother. Punk was about rebelling against youthful boredom and unemployment – Oi celebrated working class tradition, football and beer culture. From the start Oi had its detractors. Yes, there were some moments that don’t stand up to the test of time and were slightly dubious but bands like Cockney Rejects, Cock Sparrer and The Business released seminal albums that still resonant with a passion and vigor that lacks in a lot of current guitar music.

Oi concerts were seen by the media to attract right wing skinheads and football lads and gigs were now turning into full scale riots. The culmination of troubles that plagued Oi was at a gig by the 4 Skins in Southall West London. The local Asian community feared that the gig was a far right rock concert, what ensued has gone done in rock ‘n’ roll history as some of the most violent scenes to grace a music gig.

Petrol bombs were thrown, the police were under attack and under prepared for the onslaught by the local community and the gig venue was burnt to the ground.  Oi fans were all brandished trouble makers and bands found it impossible to get gigs.

The 80’s must go down as one of the most violent decades in history and anyone growing up in that decade I am sure will look back with fond memories but those memories will always be tainted with the angry and oppressive nature of the decade.

One person that has a story to tell about this decade is Beverley Thompson and she along with a great crew is set to make a film about growing up in this volatile decade.

The film short Beverley will be about a mixed-race girl trying to find her own identity within early 80’s Britain. Bev’ fought against the uncertainty and hatred of the 80’s and carved out what was to become the woman she is today – One who is grounded and with a special story to tell.

The Two Tone movement united skinheads, black youth and punks in a way that put the cultural differences aside. Two Tone fused the fast paced beat of punk, mixed in a dash of reggae guitar and fused punk and dub bass lines that provided a voice to black and white youth alike. The fashion colours were black and white and it was the first time that black and white really did come together. Bands including The Specials, The Beat and The Selector, were at the forefront of the Two-Tone scene and a movement was created.

Beverly Thompson had found the home and culture that she was looking for. Two Tone bands had black and white members and fused cultural influences from far and wide. The Specials sang about life in the UK and covered a few reggae songs that both and white youth had cherished years before. Listen to Ghost Town and every nuance and word within that song sums up the violent apathy that was felt by the youth of the 80’s.

In early life Bev moved to Leicester, the culturally diverse area of the East Midlands. Here was a place that Beverley truly felt at home and was another place where black and white youth mixed on the streets, this was cemented by joining Leicester City’s hooligan firm The Baby Squad. The football casual scene was bowling about in Diadora, Lacoste and Fila and Bev’ became one of the first female football casuals.

Without giving too much more away about the story here, Beverly is a project that will encapsulate a time and youth culture in England that I think will add a new angle to history of 80’s Britain. Stories like Beverley’s deserve to be told and being able to see this on the big screen is one that is one worth backing.

The short film will include music by The Ruts DC and The Stone foundation, the latter being part of a current crop of bands that fuse together a soulful mod vibe with a cool slick indie-ness. The Former as discussed earlier, were pioneers of fusing reggae and punk and are doing what they do best and are still making music.

Beverley the film is an independent project that is being funded by donations. Produced by award-winning producer Cass Pennant and written and produced by award-winning filmmaker Alexander Thomas everything is in place to make this a seminal piece of film, except the finances to make it and this is where YOU come in…

Every donation, no matter how big or small will help to raise the funds needed to make the film. Vivid Riot has got behind the project and we kindly ask you to do the same.

Independent film is the real deal. It is about real ideas and real people. People like you.

Here we speak to filmaker Alxendar Thomas and Beverley about the film.


From the synopsis, I have noticed that this film will be about your struggle growing up during the 80’s – Culturally how to you feel the 80’s compares to the current decade?

In a lot of ways there are parallels between the 1980’s and the current economical and social situation. We are suffering from a recession, high employment, public sector protests, greedy bankers, a conservative government and immigration used scapegoat for bad policy.

However, there are a number of distinct differences such as the drugs culture, including the introduction of a mass market for class A drug use. Crack-Cocaine was introduced to the UK in the late 1980’s and was epidemic by the 1990’s.

The class system still exists but the lines are blurred. It is easier to get credit, so material objects are more available to lower income families. Mass production has created huge conglomerates and monopolies. Young people growing up in this fast moving technical age do not have the privilege of naivety – sticks used as swords  have been replaced with real knives and the air rifle with real guns!

Off the top of your head, what are your three best and worst memories of the 80’s?

Three best memories of the 1980’s: Pre-1985, the Fashion and music, getting a Doberman dog, falling in love with Mark Kelly.

Three worst memories: Bob Marley’s death, moving schools and city just before taking my CSE’s, and having my heart broken by Jason Cummins.

In your own words, what would you like the overriding message to be from the film Beverley?

I thought at the beginning of this process I had an overriding message – to tell a story from a mix-race perspective – now it’s becoming something else – should ethnicity define us or should we aspire to see pass racial identity? I am still on a journey of discovery so at this point don’t have a defined message.

But overall I want it to be an interesting story and hope every-one finds their own personal message whether they are black or white, mix-race, male or female – if a story is human you will find yourself in there and identify with the complexity of life.

Pick three or five songs that sum up the 80’s for you?

You’re much too young –The Specials

Mirror in the Bathroom –The Beat

Holiday – Madonna

Night Nurse – Gregory Isaacs

Pearls Cafe –The Specials

Do you really want to hurt me – Culture Club

Silly Games – Janet Kay

Which three fashion items define the 80’s for you and why?

Pre- 1985

Black and White Monotone clothing

Leg warmers

Monkey Boots

Post 1985






When is the film likely to be released?

We are planning to start filming in January, so hopefully ready for the Spring 2014.

Thanks and is there anything else you would like to add?

The film is gathering energy even at such an early stage, there is a vibe that something exciting and special is happening. I think British film has a very high standard and our audience will be severe critics so we know we are at the foot of the mountain will a long way to the summit but we are more than confident and raring to go to make a film that will be refreshing and thought provoking.

Those that say it can’t be done need to get out of the way of those who are doing it!


You msut be doing a good job Alex, as you have won a number of awards for your film work, what would you say is your main driving force and inspiration when making film?

Inspiration comes from a broad range of sources: books, theatre, music, other films and even every day occurrences often provide fertile ground for ideas.

It takes an incredible amount of passion and hard work to make a good film. It’s therefore very important that you find ways to make the subject matter personal and become attached to it. If you don’t deeply believe in the film yourself or don’t have enough emotionally invested in it then it’s likely to fall in around you at some point and you won’t have the commitment and mental resources to dig yourself out when it does.

With Beverley, what are you trying to convey to the audience?

Beverley is a short film set in Leicester in 1980. It follows a mixed race girl’s struggles to carve out a sense of identity in a confusing, shifting, cultural landscape. Whilst the film follows Beverley’s journey, it simultaneously explores British cultural history and concepts of British identity. The backdrop to the film is one of the most explosive post-war British subcultures, the 2 Tone movement which saw the coming together of black and white musicians and the union of the musical influences of Jamaican based Ska and British based Punk. The film therefore raises questions about identity on an individual and national basis and explores the relationship between these concepts.

The film will have a very clear point of view. I want the audience to be in Bev’s shoes. She’s a resourceful, strong-willed character – and I hope to raise a few questions in the audience’s mind about the position she finds herself in and what the implications of that are.

How did you become involved in the Beverley film project?

I worked with Cass on the film Casuals. I was brought on board as the cinematographer for that film, but with such a project, where it’s very DIY you have to get involved in all aspects of the process. So during that time Cass and I were working together very closely and we made a good team. We continued to collaborate after Casuals and that has culminated in this film.

What films would make your top three of all time list?

It would change depending on my mood to be honest, but always up there somewhere would be Raging Bull, La Haine and This Is England.

What makes Beverley different to the projects you have worked on in the past?

It’s the first fiction film I’ve written that’s based on or inspired by a real person and real events. Also, it’s set in 1980 so that’s a new territory for me too. It’s required more research than my other films: I’ve learnt a lot about British culture, history, and identity and about its post war subcultures (especially Two Tone). I’ve also thought a lot more about identity than I’ve done before. Gary Young states in his book Who Are We? “The more power an identity carries, the less likely its carrier is to be aware of it as an identity at all. Because their identity is never interrogated they are easily seduced by the idea that they do not have one.” The process of developing this project has required me to draw upon the few occasions when I have been deeply aware of my identity in certain circumstances.

What attracted you to Beverley’s life story and then how did the thought of making it a film happen?

Cass and I both found Bev a very interesting character when we worked on Casuals. Cass really knows his British subcultures and wanted to make a film with the Two Tone movement as the backdrop – and he connected this desire with many of the social issues that Bev’s story raises. He asked me to research and to see if I thought there’s a story we could make in there. A three hour interview with Bev followed. There was a lot that resonated with me, and although I knew it was going to be real challenge to condense things into a short script, I was extremely excited at the prospect of making the film.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Just to say a huge thanks to those that have donated towards the making of the film. In order to make something that does any kind of justice to the material, era and subculture we’re dealing with it will require a huge amount of generosity from strangers and well wishers and an incredible amount of hard work from everyone else who works on the film which will go largely unrewarded except for the product we create at the end of it. So to those who have supported the project so far and to those who will do in the future we owe a huge debt of gratitude. For my part I can promise a hell of a lot of hard work and dedication in return.

To donate to the film click the link http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/beverley

To follow on Twitter – https://twitter.com/BeverleyFilm

To like on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BeverleyShortFilm

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: http://igg.me/at/BeverleyRelaunched/x/6095900

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.

More for 2013.

20 Mar

Cheers to you all for your continued support. We’ve been busy this month.

Firstly it was Vivid Riot Records putting out the two-sided single by Scotland’s finest The Banter Thiefs. ‘Levi Toi’ and ‘Civic Cafe’ are available for free download  on our Bandcamp label page HERE.

Secondly, number 8 in the football Casual Podcast series has been released and already has listeners into the hundreds. Pop over to our Mixcloud page HERE and make sure you follow as a new one will be published in April 2013 and is one not to miss.

Thirdly, we are going to streamline the way we feature bands on the blog. Rather than lengthy reviews, we are going down the route of showcasing the music we like but just putting on videos, page links and biographies. This way, we give your more music less waffle and as you will know, this is the Vivid Riot ethos.

Lastly, I will leave you with video that coincides with a release from Cass Pennant’s book company and I am sure will be of interest to plenty of you.

Barrington Renford Patterson is a former kickboxer and Mixed Martial Arts fighter. The champion ‘King of the Ring’ is well-known to cage fighting devotees and is notorious as one of Britain’s ‘hard men’ — as testified by a full episode of the TV series Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men. The former football hooligan from the Birmingham Zulus firm also cuts a powerful figure in clubland, with a hard-earned reputation gained by running some of the roughest doors in the Midlands.For all his ferocious reputation, ONE-EYED BAZ reveals a character of great warmth and loyalty, a charismatic figure strong enough to turn his back on street violence. ONE-EYED BAZ will surely be lauded as a classic of the hardman genre . . . You can order the book today online with John Blake Publishing or Amazon etc or from Waterstones bookshops. ISBN: 978-1843588115

Click picture below for video trailer.


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.

St. George’s Day.

3 Aug

Starring Frank Harper, Craig Fairbrass, Vincent Regan, Neil Maskell, Luke Treadaway, Keeley Hazell, Charles Dance, Jamie Foreman and Ashley Walters

St. George’s Day is Frank Harper’s directorial debut. Starring Harper (Bend It Like Beckham, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, The Football Factory), Craig Fairbrass (Cliffhanger), Vincent Regan (300), Neil Maskell (Kill List), Luke Treadaway (Attack The Block), Keeley Hazell (Like Crazy), Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), Jamie Foreman (Nil by Mouth, Eastenders) and Ashley Walters (Anuvahood) this is a suspense filled drama of two cousins and their one last big job before retirement beckons.

At the top of their game, respected and revered by fellow gangsters, cousins Ray Collishaw (Craig Fairbrass) and Mickey Mannock (Frank Harper) plan the biggest robbery of their careers when a drug drop goes awry. Pursued by the angry Russian mob Mickey persuades reluctant Ray to do one last job for the family. Under the guise of an England vs Germany football friendly, masked by football hooliganism, Ray, Mickey, and their crack team of criminal masterminds embark on the ultimate heist. But with the Russian’s hot on their trail, a wily detective (Jamie Foreman) with a vendetta, and a mole in their midst – can the boys pull it off one last time?

St. George’s Day is a film of balls-in-the-hand betrayal and heart-in-the-mouth family loyalty.

St. George’s Day is set for release in the United Kingdom by Metrodome Distribution and opens in cinemas across the UK on 7th September 2012.

Exclusive cast picture.

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: