The casual subculture is a subsection of football culture that is typified by hooliganism and the wearing of expensive designer clothing (known as “clobber”)
I remember standing in the Allianz Arena surrounded by the famed Südkurve. A battalion of uniformed Bayern Munich casuals united in their declaration of Bayern’s supremacy. The announcer cried ‘BAYERN’ and as one the crowd roared ‘MÜNCHEN!’ Once more the announcer howled ‘BAYERN’ and once more the war cry of ‘MÜNCHEN!’ sounded. There I was, side by side a crowd of strangers, but bonded like a band of brothers in a moment of tribalism.
As the echo of ‘MÜNCHEN!’ reverberated around the stadium, my whole body shivered and my spine tingled, as if somebody was sliding their fingers slowly up my back before pulling me close and whispering in my ear, ‘This is Football.’ I felt numb with pleasure, as I hypnotically watched the crowd move as one like an army getting ready to attack.
A sea of scarves were proudly raised in the air as a chorus of ‘FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN! Wir singen und tanzen auf jeden Fußballplatz, ein SCHUSS ein TOR, die Bayern, DIE BAYERN!’ set fire to the sky. That night the crowd was the conductor and the players were the orchestra responding to each command.
There was this electric atmosphere blended with an undercurrent of aggression that pulsed throughout the stadium and it made you feel alive. All around me was a melting pot of football culture and casuals, a symphony of supporters who were baying for the blood of the opposition. Had I not been up to my eyeballs in Bavarian beer, I may have started to become slightly concerned.
That was my first experience of feeling that football was more than just a game. It was more than just the players on the pitch. It was being part of something. I was just an outsider looking in but there was a thirst to be part of it all.
I spent the rest of that evening gaining an insight into the world of football casuals, albeit with a slight German twist. Their night didn’t end as both teams left the pitch. When the full-time whistle sounded, it signified the beginning of a new game entirely.
I was led into an infectious environment with a cult of casuals, who talked of music, politics, fashion, fighting and defending the honour of their club at all costs. It was cut-throat and captivating and it allowed me to see how others could become addicted to such a lifestyle.
My experience in Munich wasn’t exactly Stoke on a cold Tuesday night. In fact, I’m almost convinced that’s something I couldn’t survive. Someone who not only survives but thrives in that environment is writer, and one of the UK’s most prominent female football casuals, Roo Oxley.
Born and bred in Stoke-on-Trent, Roo has Stoke City pulsing through her veins. “My family has long had connections to the club,” explains Roo. “This is an area where football culture was just the norm; in Stoke, it was more than just the usual football fandom, however, with an edge of the hooligan and casual aspect which was what I picked up on – and tripped off – from an early age.”
Roo has written about subcultures, music, fashion and football, gaining notoriety for her love and passion for terrace culture, and this year will see the release of her book, ‘Clobber!’
The book explores the thinking behind Casuals and their consumption of brands then and now, as seen through the eyes and perspective of a female football casual. Throughout the book, Roo talks with key individuals and protagonists involved with terrace culture, as she investigates the future of brands for football casuals today.
With her cutting insight into casual culture, Roo Oxley comes armed with a razor-sharp sense of humour and the ability to slice through the shite of modern-day football with brutal honesty. It was a pleasure for The Atlantic Dispatch to sit down with Roo to look at her love of Terrace Culture, Stoke City, Stone Island and Skirmishes, her thoughts on modern football, Man City and why she’s not arsed about a return to the Premier League anytime soon.
“Football itself is just a business, a boring, financially corrupt and ethically fucked up conglomeration of businessmen.“Roo Oxley
This would now become my hunting ground
The Bet 365 is one of the coldest, windiest, grimmest places on Earth and it is absolutely no fun being there. Ever! My brother took me to my first game, Chesterfield at home, in October 1998. Cold, dark, dank, wank. But there was something about walking into the ground and then the stadium that just ignited something in me.
Then there were the boys, oh the boys! Stoke City have always had ‘Dressers,’ and from seeing some around the town, I was now seeing them in their natural habitat; a nineties treasure trove of Burberry, Aquascutum, Stone Island, CP Company, Faconnable. Safe to say I was hooked.
This would now become my hunting ground. Not long after this game I sneaked into a Notts County away game and became transfixed by the ripple of well-dressed skirmishes I saw. It was heady, intoxicating, and I wanted to be where the action was.
I for one am not arsed about playing the Premier League clubs in their libraries
I have always said supporting Stoke is a thankless task, a sheer lifelong trudge following our team. It is painful and frustrating, and that’s just when we’re doing OK.
It was good to see us actually compete in the Europa League during the Pulis era, but my best memories are from dicking about on away days. Yeah, of course when we got the promotion it was good, but we languished in missionary midtable mediocrity after that. I don’t even want us to go back up into the Premier League again either. Controversial! Shocker!
The Premier League is just so past football now, it’s beyond modern football, it’s beyond fans. It’s just a game for the billionaire boys club and I for one am not arsed about playing the Premier League clubs in their libraries (shhhhh!) Get me on a pissed-up, loud minibus to play Cardiff, Millwall or Birmingham any day.
Man City were just as shit as Stoke were
I write about modern-day football and the death of terrace culture in my book and also researched it for my master’s degree dissertation. Football itself is just a business, a boring, financially corrupt and ethically fucked up conglomeration of businessmen. Football lost its soul a while ago, however, there are still pockets of old-school traditional fandom in the UK and internationally.
To me personally, it was the Casuals and the Hooligans that made football exciting, but the authorities have made it one of their priorities to stamp it out. The golden age of terrace culture is dead, but we do still wear clobber that affiliates us with this special time and place.
Nowadays, it’s just the richest clubs playing each other, and absolutely, their success means fuck all as they’ve bought it. Man City were just as shit as Stoke were, I watched us play them a number of times including a particularly wet Friday night in ’99; they ended up having a shed load of money ploughed into them and look at them now. Wankers!
“Nowadays, it’s just the Richest Clubs Playing Each Other and Their Success Means Fuck All as They’ve Bought it”
proud peacocking Casuals of the golden era.
In my book ‘Clobber,’ I write about fan culture, in particular, international Ultras; they have an undeniable ferocious passion which I would like to see firsthand, and hopefully sooner rather than later before the extreme commodification of the game occurs that we have already witnessed here in the UK. I’d definitely like to witness Napoli and the Diego Armando Maradona stadium in full flow. Their supporters look off the scale!
There wouldn’t be any particular moment in football I’d go back to experience again, other than just the overall atmosphere of the late eighties/ early nineties football matches. Not to watch the footy either, but to witness the proud peacocking Casuals of the golden era. No generic Stone Island overshirts, but outfits crafted with considered thought, creativity and opportunity. To watch the real game of one-upmanship.
none of this clinical, prawn sandwich brigade bollocks
The question of the longevity of football culture, in particular terrace culture, underpins ‘Clobber!’ i spent time interviewing key protagonists who were involved in the casual scene, either as a brand owner, casual, commentator or affiliate, in terms of terrace clobber, it’s is a subculture that still stands today, predominantly due to a nostalgic and deep-seated sense of belonging to the casual scene.
When the culture is ingrained into your sense of self, a part of your identity, it is hard to lose that and why the fuck should you? Casuals still dress casually to represent their association and also just have a mint sense of casual style. With regards to general football culture, I believe people are longing for the simpler, yet golden times; when football was football, none of this clinical, prawn sandwich brigade bollocks.
I have always been into fashion and music, and strongly believe the zeitgeist of the nineties was the last. A heady concoction of music, clubbing, fashion, football, politics…it was fucking great growing up in these times. I’ll always love Stone Island, favouring now rarer, unique and vintage pieces, the music I listen to is a mixture of rave, early house and late nineties ‘indie,’ and the films I love tend to have electric soundtracks and impeccable, iconic fashion moments; Goodfellas, Casino, Pulp Fiction.
With thanks to Roo Oxley.
For more information or to follow Roo, click here