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Hooliganism in Scotland had had many different phases, the 1970's saw a lot of trouble amongst drunken football fans, leading to football authorities banning alcohol sales in football grounds. The 70's had also seen the skinhead fashion in full flow with some clubs having a very small minority who followed the club with the sole intention of causing trouble. But the real hooligan problem was born in the early 1980's with the birth of the Soccer Casual.
The birth of the casual
The early 80's saw the birth of the Casual, out went the previous skinhead fashions and in came Pringle jumpers, Lois cords, Farahs and Burberry scarves. The label was the thing, and the more expensive and exclusive the better. For the first time since the 60's Mod, lads were happy to look trendy and tidy, and these lads would use the terraces at their local club as their catwalks. During the early '80s the choice of menswear in most cities was limited to a few big department stores not like these days. That's why tracking down those obscure tennis shirts became essential for the Casual - Fila, Lacoste, Tacchini etc were the labels of the early '80s.
A lot of the fashion ideas came from abroad, so it's no surprise that the Scousers of Liverpool were at the forefront on the casual movement, their club were regulars in Europe in the late 70s and early 80's thus giving their supporters the chance to shop and thieve their way through Europe. As the grapevine spread news of the Casual phenomenon across the country, a 'uniform' of sorts began to emerge. This could be said to comprise of certain labels such as Slazenger, Lacoste, Ellesse, Burberry, Lois, Kappa, Levis etc. Anoraks, cords and bleached jeans became a regular sight on the Inter City service trains at a weekend. Arguably more importantly were the trainers. The knack of sporting the correct footwear became an art in itself.
The early years of the Scottish Scene
In Scotland Aberdeen Football Club was the first club to have a Casual following. It's pretty much agreed that the Aberdeen Casuals evolved around 1981 after Aberdeen played Liverpool in a European Cup-tie and Aberdeen lads saw the way Liverpool lads were dressed.
The Aberdeen Soccer Casuals (ASC), as the mob became known, contributed to a new style of football hooliganism in Scotland, distinguished not by the previous skinhead fashions but by the wearing of expensive sportswear and designer labels and accompanied by a heightened level of violence. Some Aberdeen lads would make regular trips to London to suss out new fashions and take in the occasional match with some Aberdeen lads forming a friendship with Spurs lads. The shops in London were a big attraction to lads from Scotland due to them stocking clothes and trainers that were not available back home.
As stated above Aberdeen fans were quick to pick up on the Casual phenonomen and the ASC quickly acquired a fearsome reputation throughout Scotland but strangely it was nearly 2 years later before any other team in Scotland had a Casual following. Motherwell were the next team to have a casual mob appear, their name being the 'Motherwell Saturday Service', their younger casuals (under16's) went by the name of the 'Tufty Club'.
During the two previous years Aberdeen Soccer Casuals had been involved in disorder in cities up and down Scotland but had been fighting rival fans and skinheads of other clubs due to no other clubs in Scotland having Casuals even though in England the casual scene was now in full swing with gangs attached to most clubs, skinheads were almost not existent at football grounds. With Motherwell now having a mob of casuals a rivalry quickly developed between Aberdeen and Motherwell Casuals resulting in a number of incidents. One of the worst incidents being in 1983 when the ASC entered the Motherwell section of the ground at Motherwells' Fir Park ground and chased their mob on to the pitch, resulting in the game being held up (there's even a story that Aberdeen's legendary club captain Willie Miller went into the stand to try and calm things down). Then in 1985 47 ASC were arrested after trying to ambush Motherwell Casuals on their way to the stadium for a match in Aberdeen, these arrests resulted in a number of jail sentences.
By 1984/85 Casuals had now attached themselves to most clubs in Scotland and were regularly making headlines in the newspapers. The Celtic club newspaper, 'The Celtic View', even went as far as to say that the casual scene was at epidemic proportions in Aberdeen, Aberdeen were able to pull mobs of around 600-700 for home games and up to 350-400 for away games during this period.
Fashions changed weekly but labels such Pringle, Lyle & Scott, Lois, Farah, Ellesse, Fila, Tacchinni, Diadora had fallen out of fashion to be replaced by such labels as Armani, Chipie, POP 84, Chevignon, Aquascutum etc though Lacoste and Burberrys still proved popular.
The casual scene had become such a problem that in the early days Motherwell FC even tried to ban fans that were wearing Kappa kagouls from entering the stadium. As stated above the casuals were making headlines in the newspapers. The Sunday Mail in October '85 ran an article by a journalist who had traveled with the Aberdeen Casuals to match in Glasgow against Celtic, the article when to recount the story of the days events, articles and headlines such as this became common place during the 80's. The Old Firm of Rangers and Celtic are Scotland's top two clubs. Both clubs were well known for their fans unsavory behavior from time to time but strangely enough these two clubs did not grasp the casual phenonomem in the way other Scottish clubs did, in fact Celtic casuals faced heavy opposition from their own fans who regular fought with them, Celtic fans hated casuals. Celtic Casuals were regularly on the receiving end on violence from their own supporters who hated the casuals, though Rangers did manage to pull a reasonable mob of Casuals over the years but not near as big as what some other clubs were pulling such as Aberdeen.
By 1985 Aberdeen Soccer Casuals were still the top mob in Scotland and had a big influence on all the other mobs in Scotland not only in organisation and travelling by train but also fashion. Aberdeen's rivalry with Motherwell decreased as other clubs mobs grew, other clubs in Scotland who had mobs appear during this period were Hibernian (Capital City Service), Rangers (Inter City Firm) and Dundee/Dundee United (Dundee Utility Crew). As the 80's progressed Aberdeen and Hibernian became the two main mobs of Casuals and this resulted in a long list of incidents of disorder between the two rival groups of casuals.
In 1985 a Hibs Casual was kicked unconscious before a game at Hibs' Easter Road ground when the two rival groups clashed and in November 1987 at a game in Aberdeen between the two sides an Aberdeen lad was stabbed by a Hibs Casual. The return fixture at Hibs' Easter Road ground in January '88 saw one of the biggest police operations in Scottish football during that period when Aberdeen took about 600 lads to the game, seeking revenge for the stabbing. During this period clashes at Hibs - Aberdeen matches became a regular fixture, especially at matches in Edinburgh.
During the 80's casuals from Scotland would make regular trips down to England to take in a match and shop for new fashions thus a number of friendships between Scottish and English Casuals developed. Probably the most well known hooligan friendship is Chelsea and Rangers, this friendship developed around '85 after the two clubs played each other in a friendly match and this 'friendship' has existed almost ever since though it's debatable whether it still exists today. Aberdeen's main friendship is with Spurs and Aberdeen lads made regular trips to London for Spurs matches. During the 80's some Aberdeen lads also had a friendship with Leeds United Service Crew. Other friendships between lads of Scottish and English clubs were/are Dundee Utility Crew and Stoke City Hooligans and Hibs Casuals and Oldham Athletic Casuals. Recently there has also been rumors of a friendship between some Hibs lads and Manchester United hooligans.
By the late 80's the Casuals scene in Scotland was in decline for various reasons, many lads had simply just lost interest, some no longer thought it was worth it due to the heavy policing at matches and jail sentences or heavy fines that were being handed out to those arrested for football related offences. It's true to say that the judicial courts were heavy handed when dealing with football related offences. But the main reason for the decline in the casual scene in not only Scotland but also Britain as a whole was the incoming rave/dance scene. Probably the year '88 to '92 saw the whole rave/dance scene in full swing and the ecstasy drug was more of an allure for football lads than the football terraces but this is not to say that this was the end of the casual.
The period from '88 to '92 saw regular confrontations between Aberdeen and Hibs, not to the same degree as previously but Hibs' CCS were now a match for the Aberdeen lads. As stated previously the police was now learning how to deal with groups of casuals leading to the modus oparindia of the casual changing. Mode of transport now changed from the train to coaches and cars, thus helping to escape the watchful eye of the police.
The nineties and onwards
The fashions of the '90s have pretty much stayed to their present day status, labels made popular during '90s were Stone Island, Lacoste, Burberrys, Paul Smith, Ralph Lauren and they've been added to over the last few years by labels such Massimo Osti, Left Hand, CP Company, Boneville, Paul & Shark etc
The early '90s saw the numbers drop amongst groups of casuals in Scotland with some teams no longer having any hooligan following at all. By this time the ASC's number had dropped to about 150-200, Hibs the other main mob in Scotland probably had the same numbers around this period and were probably the most active of firms in Scotland during '88 to '92. Some of the clashes involving Hibs casuals outside of Scotland during this period were at Oldham and Aston Villa both in 1989, Millwall in 1990 and they were also involved in disorder at European matches against Anderlecht and Standard Leige in the early 90's during European competitions (UEFA Cup).
The nineties also the Police introduce special units to deal with intelligence concerning football hooligan gangs. Every regional police force in the country had an officer who was responsible for Football Intelligence, it was this officers respsonsibility to gather information on the groups, such as travel plans for matches and what sort of numbers would be travelling. This began to have a devastating effect on the hooligan groups, twice in season 1994/95 a busload of Aberdeen Casuals were stopped on their way to Edinburgh for matches against Hibs. Everybody on the bus was held for 6 hours in a local police station before being released without charge and put back on the bus and given a police escort back to Aberdeen.
In May '94 Aberdeen lads traveled to Utrecht, Holland for a Scotland game against the Dutch, where they joined up with lads from Hibs and were involved in disorder with rival Dutch fans, resulting in around 50 Scottish lads being arrested. This was the first time rival groups had joined up to follow the national team. This again happened at the Euro 96 Championships in England for the England-Scotland match, when Scotland had a mob of around 350-400 Casuals from a number of different clubs, though Aberdeen were best represented with about 120 lads present. Scottish fans, mainly Casuals were involved in running battles with English fans and police in Trafalgar Square and a group of about 250 Scottish Casuals managed to break free from Trafalgar Square and attack a bar of English in Leicester Square before the match.
The late nineties saw a major development in the hooligan scene in Scotland, with the formation of the Scottish National Firm (SNF). Some of the main faces from Hibs, Rangers and Hearts casual firms got together to form a National Firm, they tried also to recruit Aberdeen into their ranks, but Aberdeen lads refused on a number of occasions to join. Not all hooligans from Hibs, Rangers and Hearts were involved in the idea, infact it's probably realistic to put the SNF's hardcore number at 60 at their peak, infact the idea lead to a major falling out amongst Hibs hooligans and the group split, some lads lost all interest and retired from the scene, others continued to follow Hibs. Bad blood continued between Aberdeen and the SNF, coming to a head at the 1998 World Cup in France where as pre-arranged fight was organised for Bordeaux between the ASC and the SNF. Police intelligence prevented the fight, in fact a bus carrying 52 members of the SNF from their hotel in Spain to Bordeaux was stopped by Spanish and French police who had been monitoring the groups activities throughout their stay in a Spanish holiday resort, where they were staying prior to travelling to Bordeaux in France. The 52 SNF lads were sent back to Spain and eventually returned home without clashing with the Aberdeen Casuals.
Since the '98 World Cup the SNF has fallen somewhat by the way side with most of the group splitting and some going back to their respected teams, though bad blood still exists between Hibs lads who joined the SNF and the ones who did not. The reason for the formation of the SNF is difficult to pinpoint a number of different reasons can be found, political as well as drug dealing but it was something that had a major effect on hooliganism in Scotland and especially the Hibs firm.
With not much opposition in Scotland these days the ASC now picks only a handful of games a season to take a mob to, though there is always some sort of turnout of ASC at every game. During the last couple of seasons the ASC have taken an early morning train to away games. One such occasion was in May 1997 when a mob of 70 ASC took the 0700 hours train to Kilmarnock for the last game of the season and were involved in serious disorder in the town centre, resulting in serious damage to a Kilmarnock mobs pub as well as a couple of police being badly injured. On returning to Glasgow after the game the ASC were involved in trouble with rival Rangers fans in the city centre. The Rangers fans had just returned from Edinburgh where Rangers had been playing Hearts. A number of ASC were arrested for the Kilmarnock incident and narrowly avoided prison sentences, receiving heavy fines instead.
The previous pre-season Aberdeen lads were involved in running battles with Everton lads in Aberdeen city centre before and after a friendly match between the two sides, again this resulted in a number of arrests on both sides, after the trouble was caught on CCTV. Again heavy fines were handed out, with the lads narrowly escaping jail sentences. The following pre-season Aberdeen took about 70-80 lads to Rotherham and was involved in trouble in Sheffield, where most of the ASC were staying for the weekend. The Aberdeen lads clashed with some Sheffield United hooligans (Blades) in Sheffield city centre during the evening.
The ASC's number has continued to drop to it's present hardcore of 50, though for big matches the ASC still pull upto 200 lads. Though police intelligence prevents trouble there are still occasionally some good battles and a game against Rangers is now seen as the big match and usually guarantees trouble of some sort. As recently as April 2000 Aberdeen and Rangers casuals clashed in Aberdeen city centre after a match, 17 arrests were made but the charges against them were later dropped when the police came under investigation for miss use of their batons during the disturbances. There was also trouble in May 2001 when Aberdeen Casuals clashed with Rangers lads in a pre arranged battle in Glasgow City Centre where the Aberdeen lads had stopped off on their way to a match at Motherwell. A pre-season tour of Denmark saw 15 ASC fight a running battle with 35-40 Brondby Southside for arounf five minutes after their pre-season friendly match in Copenhagen before police and security managed to restore order.
A full on revival of the casuals' scene in Scotland will probably never happen though recently a number of old faces have started to reappear. The only two mobs that seem active at the moment are Aberdeen and Rangers though there are still a few lads at clubs such as Falkirk and Hibs who seem to be present at some matches and Mother well also seem to be putting a mob together again especially for matches against Aberdeen.
The above article only gives a very brief history of the casual scene in Scotland, I've only mentioned a small number of incidents between rival groups and have tried to give a more detailed review of the history of the culture from early development to present day, there are many violent incidents involving rival casuals that could be listed. During it's peak in the mid-80's the casuals scene was a youth culture, many would argue that a casual was not a hooligan but that a casual was a youth phenomenon, nowadays the lads involved are true lads who enjoy their football, love their club, like their designer clothes and enjoy the involvement in violence with rival groups.