The English Disease. The Transformation of a Subculture

Its Representation in "Green Street Hooligans" by Lexi Alexander and "Awaydays" by Pat Holden

Examensarbeit, 2020

51 Seiten, Note: 2,0


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Popular explanations: or what it takes to be a hooligan

3. The hooligan subculture
3.1. From Chicago to Birmingham: an approach to the subcultural concepts
3.2. The passion and the fashion: the casuals and the meaning of style
3.3. Social composition of the hooligan formations
3.3.1. A pure working-class domain?
3.3.2. A 'men only' business

4. The English disease: origin, caesura and outlook
4.1. Hooliganism's heyday
4.2. Heysel and Hillsborough as turning points for English football fan culture
4.3. The English disease: still infectious after all this time?

5. Fictional representation of a subculture in 'Green Street Hooligans' and 'Awaydays'
5.1. Plot Synopsis 'Green Street Hooligans'
5.2. Plot Synopsis 'Awaydays'
5.3. Subcultural traces in hooligan fiction: analyses of selected scenes
5.3.1. Against the mainstream and a sense of belonging
5.3.2. The issue of class in 'Green Street Hooligans'
5.3.3. The hierarchy pyramid
5.3.4. 'Awaydays' and the meaning of space and style
5.3.5. A tragic solution

6. Conclusion

1. Introduction

Although versions of football were played in other parts of the pre-modern world centuries ago, it is uncontested that the modern game was invented by a group of public school footballers who agreed on the first set of rules in a London pub in 1863. Despite decades of limited success in international tournaments with nothing but the 1966 World Cup as a major trophy, nobody will take away England's rightful claim to be the home country of football. With reference to national identity in England, researchers from the field of cultural studies even go as far as to argue that it is difficult to indicate anything, other than war and royalty, which expresses national identity so powerfully as the Three Lions competing in the latter stages of a World Cup (Critcher 1991: 81). Moreover football was publicly not only regarded as an exciting sports event, but as contributing to intercultural communication and understanding. However, since the 1960s, football has been enormously confronted, like no other sport on the continent, with a severe form of spectator violence. The 'English disease', again with its roots in the motherland of the sport itself, became a synonym for the so-called hooliganism and afflicted thousands of young men. One of these was Andy Nicholls, known to every football intelligence officer in Britain as one of England's most active hooligans and a leading figure among the violent followers of Everton Football Club. Being banned from every football ground in the United Kingdom, he reveals impressive insights to the subculture in his autobiography Scally and thus serves as a primary source for gaining a more in-depth understanding of hooliganism (Nicholls 2004: 398): “Since the age of sixteen, I have been arrested over twenty times, spent weeks in court, been jailed, paid thousands of pounds in fines, been battered, cut up, had failed relationships and a broken marriage, and lost well-paid jobs, all because of football violence. I've been at it for a quarter of a century and I've seen hundreds of lads come and go. In that time I have seen some bad things happen, very bad things like Heysel and Hillsborough. I have seen people with horrific injuries, and on several occasions – usually the day after I've been locked up – I have sworn to myself that I will pack it in, knowing full well that at the next high-profile hooligan game, I will be in the thick of it, just like the wino who swears never to have another drink. It's an addiction: drink, drugs and football thugs, all the same.”

Since this male-dominated subculture with its own values, different from the mainstream football fan culture, has grown into a public problem and caused horrible decades for English football and fandom, the paper aims at providing a deeper understanding of the hooligan scene. Altogether the paper essentially consists of three main parts. The first part provides the theoretical framework to understand the nature of the phenomenon. Here the concept of subculture with its different approaches is introduced and the subcultural meaning of style will be analysed. Furthermore the issues of class, masculinity and age, which are closely linked to the study of subcultures, will be considered in relation to football hooliganism in England. In the second part I will examine the development of hooliganism in England, starting in the 1960s when football-related violence attracted great public interest for the first time. Subsequently two events which can be seen as a watershed in the history of the English disease, Heysel and Hillsborough, will be analysed not only in terms of their procedure, but especially regarding their impact on football hooliganism. Part three deals with two selected films related to the subject of football hooliganism in England. Firstly a plot synopsis of Lexi Alexander's Green Street Hooligans and Pat Holden's Awaydays will be provided. Afterwards, I will analyse specific selected scenes with reference to traces of the subculture that can be found in the films. In the final chapter the main findings will be summarised and the formulated questions will be finally answered.

While the general culture of football and its fans has attracted scientific attention only since the turn of the millennium, the related topic of football hooliganism has long been established in academia. At the beginning of the 1970s, violent behaviour conducted by football supporters became an issue in English politics and media and caused moral panic among the society. This resulted in a need for academic explanations of the phenomenon of hooliganism. In general the 1970s and 1980s mark the beginning of academic fan research (Piskurek 2018: 171). The sociology of sport: A selection of readings (Dunning 1971) published by Eric Dunning in 1971 can be considered as a starting point of this domain of research. Furthermore Ian Taylor published his book titled Soccer consciousness and soccer hooliganism (Taylor 1971). The field was dominated by researchers from the Leicester School in the 1980s and 1990s. Eric Dunning and his colleagues at Leicester University, having received substantial funding from the Football Trust, have helped to establish football as a realm worthy of sociological study. In addition to their works, the present study draws on the work of Gary Armstrong. In his detailed anthropological study Football Hooligans: knowing the Score (Armstrong 2003) Armstrong, who followed Sheffield United's hooligan group nicknamed the 'Blades Business Crew', demonstrates the complexity the subculture has developed over many years. However, Armstrong is not without his critics, as other researchers argue that his study is restricted to a single group in one northern English city and thus cannot claim to be representative. Moreover, since the early 1990s there has been an underground culture of British football hooligan memoir publishing, which became mainstream. These accounts, ironically termed 'Hit and Tell' literature by Steve Redhead, a well-known researcher on popular culture and football fanzines, inform their consumers about what they see as the 'golden age' of football hooliganism. Despite the continuing debate about the usefulness and accuracy of these biographies and autobiographies, utilisation of football hooligan memoirs has been made in many academic books (Piskurek 2017: 174). This paper also relies on such documents, such as Andy Nicholl's renowned autobiography Scally, in order to illustrate specific issues.

Although approaching the subject from a theoretical perspective, the thesis does not primarily seek to fully explain the reasons and circumstances that led to the emergence and long maintenance of football hooliganism in England. It will rather explore the development of the hooligan subculture with regards to its spatial and quantitative extent, its nature and the social composition of its participants. In addition to this the paper investigates the fictional representation of the subculture by the example of two films and discusses whether the previously gathered findings comply with the way the subculture is fictionally represented. As the readership might have recognised there are many different questions raised in the introduction of which some will be answered on a bigger and some on a smaller scale. The paper’s leading questions are formulated as follows: Is the concept of subculture still applicable to the present form of English hooliganism? To which extent and seriousness does football hooliganism in England still exist, which shifts has it undergone and how can the correlation of the subculture and its fictional representation be explained?

2. Popular explanations: or what it takes to be a hooligan

The following chapter attempts to eradicate gaps in knowledge about what football hooliganism is and what football hooligans do. Anyone who is willing to understand the phenomenon first of all needs to distance him or herself from certain features which are prominent in the public debate about it. Many people tend to dismiss football hooliganism as 'meaningless' behaviour and label football hooligans as 'mindless morons' simply because their behaviour is based on different values. Such a stance rules out any possibility of understanding the nature of the subculture (Williams et al. 1989: XxiV).

One of the most important things to say is that the label 'football hooliganism' is not so much a scientific sociological concept as a construct of the media and politicians. Hence it is not too precise and scientists failed to agree on a single definition. For example, some experts considered football hooligans as persons, who perform violent actions to other people in the context of a football match (Claus 2018: 16). However such a definition ignores the fact that hooligans exert violent actions in midweek, apart from the matchday event, as well. In general a hooligan claims allegiance to a specific football club like any other supporter does. Most hooligans are committed football fans with a knowledge of watching and playing the game. It is their violence that distinguishes them from other supporters, while at the same time their loyalty to the club sets them apart from ordinary street gangs. Following their logic, at the end of the day their devotion to a particular team justifies their behaviour and allows them to pursue their activities against the followers of other teams (ibid.: 17). In the public debate the term hooliganism is used to describe a variety of actions which take place in more or less directly football-related contexts. The phenomenon in a 'cover-all' sense includes all forms of physical as well as verbal violence such like the throwing of missiles at players, match officials or other spectators, the vandalising of club and private property, fist fights and fights involving kicking or weapons such as knives. Moreover one has to mention that such behaviour does not only take place around or inside the stadiums but also in locations like pubs, railway and bus stations or discotheques. Nor does it take place only on matchdays, but also during the weak, as mentioned earlier. These facts already illustrate that football hooliganism is a complex and many-sided phenomenon (Spaaij 2006: 10).

But how does somebody become a hooligan and what causes their violent actions? In Britain four main popular explanations have been proposed, all backed by the media and politicians. These rather simplistic explanations state that football hooliganism is caused by: excessive alcohol consumption, violent incidents on the pitch or biased refereeing, unemployment and affluence. Although all these points can be an element in a more complex explanation of the term, there is no evidence showing that any of these factors plays a deeper role in generating hooliganism. The consumption of alcohol cannot be said to cause violence, because not every fan who drinks at football matches also fights and vice versa. There are hooligans who do not drink before fighting as they need a clear head to avoid being caught by rivals or the police. The action on the pitch as well as the referee's decisions can directly be refuted as lying at the roots of hooliganism, because incidents take place before and after the matches as well. Unemployment, a favoured reason of the political left, cannot be simply said to produce hooliganism either. For example, during the 1930s when unemployment in England was on a high level, the incidence of reported violence at football matches was at an all-time low. Likewise, when English football hooliganism entered its most notorious phase in the 1960s, the national rate of unemployment was at its lowest level ever. In fact, every major English club had its group of hooligans, the so-called 'firm', independent of the city’s economic prosperity. There were even supporters from more wealthy areas in Britain who taunted their poorer rivals by waving bunches of £5 or £I0 notes at them singing 'You'll never work again' to the tune of 'You'll never walk alone'. Nonetheless unemployment can be said to be one among many processes which help to nurture the norms of aggressive masculinity which appear to be centrally involved in football hooliganism (Dunning 2002: 12). The fourth factor 'affluence' is totally contradictory to the factor of unemployment. This explanation suggests that football hooliganism is an attribute of the 'too much, too young' generation. The reference to affluence basically is a result from a misinterpretation of the fashion-switch of young British football fans during the 1980s from the 'skinhead' to the 'casual' style. Devotees of the casual style scene used to wear clothes which were, but not necessarily, expensive. Sometimes they only seemed to be expensive as when the badges of designer labels were stitched onto cheap sweaters or the clothes themselves were stolen. There is no doubt that there are affluent hooligans with well-paid jobs or prosperous parents, but the majority of the available data disproves the 'affluence thesis'. While hooligans come from all levels in the class hierarchy, the bulk come from the ranks of the working-class, an issue which will be addressed later in further detail (ibid.: 13).

What becomes apparent is that there is no data or evidence confirming that one of the above-mentioned popular explanations by itself leads to football hooliganism, although sometimes they play a part in triggering it. For this reason, especially British academics have developed scientific approaches to the study of the English disease. Within Britain, theoretical perspectives on hooliganism have come from a wide range of academic disciplines like sociology, anthropology, psychology, criminology, political science and cultural studies. First of all the focus is on the anthropological approach of Armstrong and Harris, while the subcultural thesis developed in the United States in the 1950s will be analysed in more detail in the subsequent chapter. These theoretical insights are central to generate a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of football hooliganism (Spaaij 2006: 54).

The anthropological approach focuses on the meaning dedicated to football hooliganism by young supporters and is stressing the highly ritualised and symbolic nature of their behaviour. Gary Armstrong analysed that hooliganism consists of ritualised and relatively harmless 'aggro' performed by young men within specific 'rules of disorder'. The participants become part of a particular group with their own dress code, emblems and modes of communication. Within this group the significance of violent action is certainly important, but its purpose remains essentially symbolic, saying that most incidents consist of threats rather than physical violence. Armstrong and Harris argue that for many people who are looking for excitement away from the routines of work and school, the terrace action enables danger and offers the opportunity to become a hero (Armstrong 2003: 15). The anthropological thesis is further backed by the works of the social psychologist Peter Marsh. Marsh used video film and interview material from fans and hooligans to examine their behaviour on the terraces. With the help of his colleagues he published the book Aggro: the Illusion of Violence. Marsh's main argument is that the aggressive behaviour of football hooligans is a ritualistic game. To his mind 'aggro' is a way of expressing aggression in a relatively non-injurious manner. This thesis is supported by his observations that when rival hooligan groups confront each other, the resultant symbolic displays are used to frighten the opposing side and to make them back down. He also states that whenever a fight breaks out, the injuries often are not too serious. According to Marsh the social rules of hooliganism are based on traditional values of masculinity, courage and fair play. These rules of engagement are a necessary factor which allows aggression and violence to be experienced within a wider context of relatively safety (Marsh 1978: 11-13). All in all the anthropological thesis is highly criticised as it only focuses on the ritualistic and symbolic aspects of football hooliganism and underestimates the extent and seriousness of the actual violence. Moreover the findings cannot give rise to any broader conclusions (Tsoukala 2009: 17).

3. The hooligan subculture

3.1. From Chicago to Birmingham: an approach to the subcultural concepts

A first scientific approach to the study of subculture was provided in the 1920s when a group of sociologists and criminologists in Chicago began collecting evidence on juvenile street gangs and deviant groups like bootleggers or professional criminals. Led by Frederic Thrasher, they produced a survey of over 1,000 gangs, of which some were described in length concerning their rituals and routines. With their method of participant observation, they produced one of the most stunning accounts of subculture. The Chicago school's early sense was that subcultures present a form of deviance and delinquency against the social pressure to conform (Hebidge 2006: 75). They claimed that the emergence of subcultures was based upon two reasons: some population sectors' lack of socialisation with the mainstream culture and their adoption of alternative models. According to that, members of those juvenile street gangs did not accept the means of action offered by the mainstream culture and thus became innovators and rebels who proposed their own norms and values. These ideas were formulated in the so-called 'Social Disorganisation Theory'. All in all advocates of the Chicago School treated subcultures as discrete and monocultural and determined subcultural identity by one's circumstances: tied to disadvantaged social groups, which condemned its members to a life-cycle without much of a future. However, the method suffered from a number of deficiencies, especially the absence of any analytical or explanatory framework, which in turn led to the negligence of class and power relations. Subcultures were in fact simply presented as an independent organism functioning outside the larger social, political and economic contexts (Gelder 2005: 11).

Albert Cohen and Walter Miller aimed at supplying this missing theoretical perspective by tracing the continuities and breaks between dominant and subordinate value systems. Cohen thus worked out the compensatory function the juvenile gang occupies. For him such groups present an alternative source of self-esteem for working-class adolescents who underachieved at school. In such gangs, values like ambition and conformity, which are considered 'normal' in the dominant culture, were replaced by defiance of authority and the quest for 'kicks'. In addition to this Miller underlined the similarities between gang and parent culture, arguing that many of the values of the deviant group reflect the main concerns of the adults in a distorted form (Hebdige 2006: 76).

In Britain, academic work in youth culture has not been fashionable since the 1970s, when it flourished at departments like the Birmingham University's Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS). Researchers from the CCCS in England, who had a massive impact on the interests and methods of subcultural studies, took into account the full interplay of ideological, economic and cultural factors which bear upon a subculture. The CCCS rejected the idea of a completely classless youth culture and instead observed that the leisure styles available to youth were inflected through the divisions intrinsic to a class society. They viewed society as being divided into two main classes, the working-class and the middle-class, with the middle-class culture being dominant. At this point it was Phil Cohen who explored the ways in which class-specific experience was encoded in their leisure styles (Gelder 2005: 83). His complex analysis was largely based on the working-class community from the London East End. He explained the emergence of subcultures on the basis of the reconstruction of the East End of London. According to him, the development of new estates on the outskirts and a large number of rehoused families led to a fragmentation of the working-class households. For its members who had to face a weakening of class identity, subcultures were viewed as an attempt to resolve these experiences and to create new forms of collective identification. Hence, to Cohen's mind subcultures provided a compromise solution between two contradictory needs: the need to create and express autonomy and difference from parents and the need to maintain the parental identifications. For example, the mods were seen to correspond to the upwardly mobile solution and to react to the emerging ideology of affluence as they deliberately showed they own money and know how to spend it. On the other hand the actions of football hooligans were interpreted as an attempt to maintain the 'roughness' of the traditional working-class community (Clarke et al. 1991: 25). Moreover, for Cohen, the group identity of subcultures is expressed territorially first and foremost. As the working-class community was displaced due to the modernisation processes, the youth subcultures live out a kind of symbolic occupation of the places their parents had once called their own (Gelder 2005: 83). This could not be truer for the subculture of the football hooligans, who ever since had a strong sense for their home territories, i.e. their streets, their pubs and their stadium. The importance of space for the hooligan subculture and its changing meaning over the last decades will be addressed later in further detail.

During the 1990s and 2000 a body of work emerged which argued that the concept of subculture, as described previously, had become redundant as a conceptual framework. The term post-subculture was introduced by Steve Redhead with regards to what he perceived as an obvious breakdown of former youth subcultural divisions evident in the emerging dance music culture of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Redhead, a practitioner and participant observer in the area of the study of football hooliganism, argues that the study of youth culture has been largely given up to advertising agencies and lifestyle marketing companies and signals a black hole into which the field of subcultural study has disappeared (Redhead 1997: 4). Later it was David Muggleton who developed the term into a conceptual framework, describing the 80s and 90s as decades of subcultural fragmentation and proliferation, with a glut of revivals, hybrids and transformations, and the coexistence of myriad styles at any one point in time (Muggleton 2004: 47). In general, the post-subcultural theory states that youth identities had become more reflexive and fluid due to an increasing flow of cultural commodities and images through which more individualised notions of self could be fashioned. In accordance to this, subcultures are described as collectives which are sufficiently homogeneous internally, but capable of developing consistent distinctiveness, identity and commitment. This means that the forms of individual involvement in subcultures are fluid, differentiated according to each participant's investment (Bennett 2011: 493).

One of the primary critics directed at the post-subcultural concept is the assumption of equal capacity among youth for consumption irrespective of class, income and geographical location. Although the current hooligan formations seem to be more detached from the social class-system than they were in the past, one can by no means ignore the on-going role of structural inequalities in shaping the life chances and cultural affiliations of youth. Such forms of inequalities persist to have an impact on young people's access to leisure resources in many neighbourhoods, strongly shaping their identity. A final criticism claims that the post-subculturalists ideas about the youth's relation to style, expressed by the term 'supermarket of style', which expresses the reduction of stylistic sensibilities of youth to a game of 'pick and mix', overlook established examples of youth cultural style that do not obey the new laws of fluidity and temporality monitored by post-subcultural theorists (ibid. 2011: 498).

What became obvious in this chapter is that subcultural studies, since the 1920s, provided a continuous engagement with the distinction between community and society, understanding subcultures as social groups that react against massification and which are non-normative, but not 'normless' (Gelder 2005: 9). Hence, subcultural studies is not about homogeneity, but heterogeneity or to use one of the Chicago School's favourite terms, 'deviance'. I have already stated that members of these groups signal their affiliation through a distinctive use of style, including fashion, mannerisms and a specific jargon. Thus, the study of subcultures is closely linked to the study of symbolism attached to clothing, music and other visible tastes by members of particular subcultures. In the following part, the style of the hooligans will be analysed in further detail.

3.2. The passion and the fashion: the casuals and the meaning of style

In 1979 Tony Jefferson and Stuart Hall, the acting directors of the CCCS at that time, edited a collection of essays titled 'Resistance through Rituals'. While their focus remained on working-class youth subcultures as a subordinated group, resistance was given more potential compared to the work of Phil Cohen. As their interest was on the way subcultures purchase their 'look' and 'outlook' through fashion and related practices, they stated that this resistance is expressed through a specific style. The former Chicago School methods of urban sociology were thus replaced by the practice of semiotics to read the signs of subcultures and to understand them as the means by which its members obtain their social identity. The CCCS' fascination with subcultural style gained its most densely theorised expression in Dick Hebdige's influential book Subculture: The Meaning of Style, which was published in 1979 (Hebdige 1979). Influenced by the semiotic theory of Roland Barthes and Umberto Eco, Hebdige cemented subcultural studies' shift away from its sociological and criminological traditions to the art school and new humanities. He also revisited the concept of homology, stating that subcultures themselves are relatively orderly forms, fitting their selected styles to their particular values (Gelder: 85).

In most English cities there has been a proliferation of youth styles and fashions in the second half of the 20th century, with each subculture easily identifiable by its respective clothes, hairstyles and adornments. This is due to the emergence of new fashions which accelerated very quickly from the prosperous years of the 1960s onwards. As fashion and style became more and more heterogeneous, the subcultures began to supersede the grids of class, gender, age and ethnicity. The postmodern styles became codes for their consumers, who wanted to construct their own identities through the wearing of specific clothes (Muggleton 2004: 39).

In the late 1960s the football terraces began to be dominated by the youth subculture of the skinheads. With their unique dresses including black Harrington jackets, Ben Sherman shirts, Levi's jeans and Doc Marten boots they added a specific style to the football grounds celebrating aggressive masculinity and physical toughness. The haircut, best described as half soldier, half convict, with strictly shaved sideburns, was added to the look. There is no doubt that the skinhead movement had an enormous impact on the emerging youth ends. Their severe image of a very rough masculinity was one which wanted to be adopted by many lads from the tough neighbourhoods. In 1969, the golden year for the skinhead culture in Britain, the label became synonymous with 'aggro' and football hooliganism (Dunning et al. 1992: 172). Referring to Hebdige, a subculture could be incorporated in two different ways: either converting their styles into mass products or by labelling their participants 'ideologically'. In the case of the skinhead/hooligan movement of the the late 1960s, the mass media labelled them as deviants and folk devils (Muggleton 2004: 144).

However, everyone who had watched well-publicised football events in England in the 1980s should have witnessed the absence of the hooligan stereotype, the skinhead. The infamous folk devil who terrorised the terraces since the 1960s was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the public was confronted with a new hooligan type called the casual. The casual scene emerged in the late 1970s in the three main centres Merseyside, Manchester and London. The media started to describe them as smartly dressed gangs of thugs, as 'articulate' and 'fluent' young men, who looked more like the boy next door than soccer hooligans (Redhead 1997: 21). Although these young people appeared like an undifferentiated homogeneous mass at first sight, one had to realise that the casuals were engaging in style wars which had not be seen since the 'mod' era of the 1960s. What is obvious in every youth subculture is the fact that their members do not simply buy passively or uncritically. They transform the meaning of bought goods and recontextualise mass-market styles. This is also true for the casual scene as young men rejected the normative definitions and categories of fashion promoted by the clothing industry and started to purchase textiles from brands which have never been associated with football before (Muggleton 2004: 41). This phenomenon is connected to the concept of bricolage, a term developed by the French cultural theorists Roland Barthes and Claude Levi-Strauss, which describes the way things are dislocated from their actual context, adapted for uses for which they were not officially intended (Hebdige 2006: 79). Hooligans from all over the country began to buy clothes from sport shops as well as golf and tennis clubs and labels such as Fila, Ellesse, Tacchini, Diadora and Lacoste began to appear. Some designer clothing labels became almost synonymous with the casual culture and were immediately associated with the hooligan scene. This is completely true for Burberry, for years the favoured label of English hooligans nationwide. It has actually been argued that Burberry was saved from bankruptcy by the casuals. As a matter of fact, there has been a police operation under the banner of 'Operation Burberry' to target Millwall hooligans. The company, however, desperately tried to disassociate itself from the subculture. Other labels like Stone Island had even been formed on the back of the casual cult. Stone Island, characterised by its trademark compass badge on the sleeve, had become essential hooligan wear as well. On matchdays, certain bars placed 'No Stone Island' signs in the windows as they knew that supporters wearing them were potential troublemakers (Brimson 2007: 118).

Although the casual style did not share the remarkable shrill-coloured look of the punk scene, it nonetheless had its specific function and meaning inside the subculture. In general there are different explanations about the emergence of the casual style in the hooligan subculture. Many experts argue that it was developed to avoid being detected by the police as the hooligans could no longer be assigned to a specific team. Other researchers noted that the uprising of the casual style took place at the time of an enormous economic boom in early 1980s and that the new affluence wanted to be made visible to the public. Like most British youth styles, the casual scene has been heavily regionalised. The London casuals, for instance, claim to have given up sportswear, first moving on to the top menswear shops selling Chester Barrie suits and Farrah slacks. Casuals from Manchester were known for their specific trouser style and responsible for the cord flares comeback. Although each region has developed its specific features, the overall emphasis was always on very expensive style and the intense competition over who is most stylish (Redhead 2014: 142). Within the grounds, this competition over style reflected itself in chants and banter and regionalism has been given a vicious turn. Every time Liverpool and Everton visited London-based clubs or teams from more affluent regions in the south, they were disdained about the poverty of Merseyside with taunts like:

In your Liverpool slums, You look in the dustbin for something to eat, You find a dead rat and you think it's a treat, In your Liverpool slums (Redhead 1997: 22).

Furthermore the casual movement had a significant impact on the policing of football hooligans. Dressed 'respectably' with no obvious club identification, they could hardly be detected by the authorities. Thus, in the first instance, the casual scene has completely destroyed attempts to control football hooliganism (ibid.: 22).

All in all it seems slightly ironic that since the late 1970s, many young working-class males have chosen football as their fashion page. Their look somehow reversed the images and received notions of football violence. The desire to look good rather than hard led to the transition of street style to high-street style. As the time moved on such style obsessions involved young football fans on a large scale and not only the hooligan gangs. Even today, the casual scene with all its mentioned clothing brands, enjoys great popularity among hooligan and non-hooligan supporters. This furthermore illustrates the interesting relation between the subculture and the mainstream culture. Today it is practically impossible to identify who is belonging to a hooligan group purely by means of style as this has been adopted by a significant number of people from the dominant culture of football supporters. Thanks to this process of cultural appropriation, many businesses try to capitalise on the attraction and perceived coolness of the hooligan style by selling a large selection of the above-mentioned brands. Only to name a few, 'The Casual Factory' and 'Terraces Menswear' are two of the most famous suppliers in the United Kingdom.

3.3. Social composition of the hooligan formations

3.3.1. Apure working-class domain?

Football, at least from the end of the 19th century onwards, has undoubtedly been the biggest sport in terms of working-class involvement ever since. The equipment was cheap, the rules were easy and it could be played on almost every surface in almost all weathers. In the motherland of the game, the once who decided not to play, ended up in the massive crowds together with more than 100,000 spectators even before the outbreak of World War I. Football, a game played and consumed by the workers, spread over the whole country in the 20th century. Wherever there were workers there was football and people started to support their small local home-town clubs in a sense of civic pride and identity (Russel 1999: 15).

The above-described links between football and the working class have been intensified by Ian Taylor who views football as a feature of what he has called the 'working-class weekend'. This concept includes the traditional leisure activities that were pursued by the working-class in the second half of the nineteenth century, such as brass bands or archery. Attending professional football matches had become a famous feature of the working-class weekend activity in the early 1900s (Kerr 1994: 8). After World War II the social myth emerged that the boundaries between the social classes were diminishing and that the working-class began to disappear. Although this assumption was challenged from the late 1950s onwards, since there was a rediscovery of poverty and the existence of great inequalities of wealth, it was the formation of a consumerist culture of style, glamour and excitement adapted to the individual, that was responsible for the breakdown of the working-class weekend. In consequence, Taylor states that football-related as well as other forms of youth violence can be seen as an act of resistance and an attempt by unsatisfied working-class adolescents to revive the old traditions (Clarke et al. 1991: 25). This theory is closely linked with the Marxist approach towards football hooliganism, also developed by Ian Taylor, which declares that fighting among football fans is caused by their alienation from the development of the clubs. Post-war football in England began to grow into a middle-class game with multi-national interests, while the 'real' working-class supporters were losing their voice. Hence, violent outbreaks at football matches can be seen as a form of protest by the labourers who were left isolated by the political and economical policies. This argumentation also fits the CCCS approach insofar as it interprets subcultures as forms of resistance. Many academics disapprove of Taylor's arguments in stating that hooligans are not seeking to fight authority figures, but against opposing fans from the same social background. Moreover his work is primarily based on assumptions rather than empirical research (O'Neill 2005: 20).


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The English Disease. The Transformation of a Subculture
Its Representation in "Green Street Hooligans" by Lexi Alexander and "Awaydays" by Pat Holden
Universität Rostock
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english, disease, transformation, subculture, representation, green, street, hooligans, lexi, alexander, awaydays, holden
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Philip Sell (Autor:in), 2020, The English Disease. The Transformation of a Subculture, München, GRIN Verlag,


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