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on 20 May 2003
This book is a must for anyone interested in the casual culture from its inception in the late 70's to the modern day. It predominantly centres on the clothes and music of the periods concerned, and describes how the style has evolved, putting it into context with the skinhead, two-tone movement and mod revival which coincided with its early beginnings.
Facsimile reproductions of the original Face article from 1983 by Kevin Sampson and copies of influential fanzine "The End" are teamed with stories of sourcing, appropriating and wearing casual clothing in the early days. Illustrated throughout, with 16 pages of colour photographs, I found it compulsive reading, and was particularly pleased to see mention of Patrick cagoules and Benetton rugby shirts (although I recall them being labelled as "tennis shirts"). As a man who spent his first giro on a pair of Diadora Pat Cash's and his first YTS money on a Pringle, the book certainly struck a chord.
The one observation I would make is that it centres in the main on the formation and early days of the casual movement, and whilst acknowledging that there has been a resurgence of casuals in recent times, the dismissive phrase of one contributor of "have Hackett, will throw plastic chairs anywhere in Europe" and the chapter "Close Island" may suggest some of the sympathies of the author.
In short, it is an A - Z of the casual era from Slazenger to Stone Island, and I would recommend this to anyone interested in the fashions and music of the last 25 years.
Borg Elite
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on 9 April 2012
At first came the Teds, then the Mods, the Rockers, the bloody Hippies, Skinheads, Suedeheads and then the Punks. But by the late Seventies early eighties a new youth fashion had appeared in Britain. Its adherents were often linked to violent football gangs, wore designer sportswear and made the bootboys of previous years look like the dinosaurs that they had become.
They were known as Soccer casuals, scallies, Perry Booys, trendies and dressers. But the name that stuck was Casuals. (So I am lead to believe from West Hams ICF of Millwalls Bush wakers)
And this grass-roots phenomenon, largely ignored by the media, was to change the face of both British fashion and international style.
Casuals recounts how the working-class fascination with sharp dressing and sartorial one-upmanship crystallized the often bitter rivalries of the football/hooligan firms and how their culture spread across the terraces, clubs and beyond.
For a long time they went unnoticed by the police as they were still hunting the skinheads & boot-boys.
It is the definitive book for football, music and fashion obsessives alike.
As you get further into the book it goes into the Acid house scene and even the heady days of Ibiza in the mid later 80's (Oh memories) and then into the Club scene where you had to dress like a "Chino Charlie" to get in.
Its Well worth taking on holiday and reading at a great beach bar...while the better half and Kids are doing there own thing .... Happy daze!
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on 5 October 2008
If you were a Casual back in the day then you will read this with a wry smile combined with the occasional "did we really wear that?"

If you are a young Casual now this should be read as to understand the roots of the movement. You never know, you might actually discover that wearing a Clone Island jumper doesn't make you a Casual.

I actually think Thornton has got it pretty much spot on.
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on 22 February 2008
This book is brilliant ,if you were there in the 80's you will love this.
Not usual rubbish really interesting well presented and well written.
Goes on about the fashion , the football violence and the music.
You could really relate to the author and the people written about in this book.
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on 7 July 2004
It had to happen at some point - finally an informed, literate and broad approach to a subject that holds memories for many but, in its' written form, alienates most due to the preoccupations of a few mindless, violent protagonists who have been allowed to peddle their depressing and hateful world view in print.
The cover of this book paints it as yet another attempt by a provincial yob to cash in on his brief spell of notoriety during the mid 1980's; the media image of a hooligan whose goggled eyes reflect a punch-up on a terrace somewhere in England on a Saturday. But bear with it and you soon find something approaching a sub-cultural manual cum history book for blokes who came of age in the late 1970's - sop complete is the author (and the bulk of his contributors') eye(s).
The format of this book, as opposed to the semi-autobiographical nature of the majority of slim volumes on this depressing subject, is vaguely chronological, staring correctly in the mid 1970's and continuing to pretty much the present day. But its' milestones are far broader than just years - the arrival of Punk in the unique form that hit Merseyside and Manchester, the Liverpool in Europe Years, the Miners' strike, Heysel and Acid House all inform the book with a truly broad perspective that transcends the casual subculture and frames it within the significant events that provide reference points to anybody in their late 30's who experienced the glory days of football and casual.
The broad range of correspondents whose stories are cut up to pepper the narrative with real-life experiences gives a national view rather than the traditional football-centric regional perspective. Fashions, travel and music are described in a way that shows the basic differences between north and south. Merseyside is a key focus, but the book is none the worse for that; the Scousers had the coolest take on casual from the start and I say that as a southerner who proudly wore grey Farahs and slip-ons topped off with a pastel pink waffle sweater to nightclubs in my adopted Huddersfield home.
There is an argument to say that any work that was half literate would seem ground breaking when it was concerned with the experiences of the young male football fan in the 1980's, but Thornton's work has appeal to those who did not directly experience the phenomenon of casual as vividly as those who did; music and fashion references are as sharp as a razor and I for one was touched by the mention of the MA-1 jacket and Levi's 501 'look' as much as by the constant mention of the M&S crew neck sweater. Good times.
I wish we could expect more works from this author because I for one have no wish to spend my money on a ghost written tome concerning the sordid past of an ex-convict from Crewe who delights in recalling minor skirmishes in Halifax on a rainy Saturday in October, when there was so much more to the experience of the match and the travel and the look.
More please!
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on 1 September 2011
Phil Thornton proves himself to be a very worthy observor to a youth movement in this Island's cultural and social history that was long overlooked, and yet worthy of serious comment.
In fact, this book is best when Thornton himself is pondering, observing and commenting on the Casuals themselves. The book is fantastic when taking you down your own memory lane to remind you of the labels, fads and gimmicks of the time.
The casual movement mostly passed me by, so I was somewhat unaware of it and very keen to read of its significance.
Thornton's writing is top draw, especially when he charts the historical origins of the movement to Liverpool and its spread through the terrace culture of the early eighties.
For my own part, I found the referencing of the organised violence of the movement a little less enthralling. I understand that these were intrinsically linked but,for me,the book was far more engrossing from a fashion standpoint.
I really enjoyed the way Thornton charted the growth of the popularity of now mainstream European lables, such as Lacoste, from the hardened away supporter's light-fingered travels around Europe.
A fantastic irony that, by having scousers and mancs clean their shops out, the final result was European brands gaining a foothold in the lucrative UK market and making millions.

It is intersting to read how each city, or firm, embrassed the scally movement and the weight of Thornton's argument is always persuasive and well written.

I could have done without some of the constant quoting from those 'inside' the movement, but this was a due to my own personal preference for reading Thornton's writing, which was never less than superb.

With the ubiquity of Apple, the significance of brand perception is somewhat taken for granted these day. But it's books like these that enable you to understand its early origins. I say this sat here typing away in a Lacoste polo shirt.
Thornton's book, at the very least, has at least enabled me to understand why I'm wearing it.
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on 25 November 2004
I Bought this book to show somebody the coat I once owned (front cover)A journey through fashion like we'd never seen before. Top Top Top read If you were there, wore it and are still wearing it then this book is for you. If you were never there but are a clone islander then buy it to see where you look came from.
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on 19 May 2015
Brands I'd forgotten, bands I'd forgotten, lads who clearly knew the score, this book is a trip down memory lane for all of us of 'a certain age'. Phil Thornton is as smart as a Left Hand jacket. Brilliant.
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on 4 August 2013
Great read one of the best books on the subject of casuals
it was very well thought out and great story's from the late 70's &
early 80's must buy
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on 20 May 2005
Skinheads, punks, mods, rudies, soulboys, psychobillies - things were complicated for a while back there in the late seventies as Britain's subcultural underground fractured into a myriad of often mutually antagonistic youth cults, each defined by what they wore, what they danced to, where they went.
And then came the casuals, and nothing was quite the same again as the soulboy look combined with European sportswear and the exploding football hooli scene to create a subcult that was to dominate working class, British male culture from the early 80's to the current day. Phil Thornton's book traces Casual Culture from Victorian times onwards, and does so with the insight of someone who was there and the pace of someone not up for getting too bogged down in quasi-sociological wiffle. A good read.
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