Team HWS went on a wee day out to research a very decent independent clothes shop with the interesting and cool resident Brett Rowden. His shop “It Started in the North” on Easter Road, Edinburgh was the perfect venue. Another conversation that was overdue and fits nicely with our music, threads, subculture and football section.
Thanks for having us Brett.
Starting here at your shop, very impressive with cool images. I like the mix of threads and vinyl like a perfect gold mine and a place to hang out in. Would you say you have a combination of a mod look and a terrace vibe?
Yes, basically a mixture of subcultures. I know that’s a title a lot of people don’t like to use but it is very retro I suppose.
So, the name of the shop interests us, I think I’ve heard the quote before. Does it relate to Northern Casuals claiming the scene as their own?
Yes, loosely, it was in a kind of tongue-in-cheek way. It was a bit of a joke until we come up with something different or better. From then, when it was mentioned people seemed to like it and with me having a southern accent and having the shop up here in Scotland it was a bit of humour; people then took to it.
I suppose it makes people curious and it could mean anything you want? The sign is very effective?
Yeah, the customers and people that come in are quite curious thinking it could even be a Northern Soul thing and yes it can mean what you want, the sign was a decent idea especially when we added Edinburgh to it.
I know you prefer to call it the mod movement but for a young age, how and when did your passion start for this?
Random really, my mum was big into Oasis I suppose it went from there so I was always looking deeper. There were also bands like Ocean Colour Scene and a bit of that Britpop thing. However, luckily where I lived there was always a kind of scene and having central London on your doorstep you have the bars, the shops and the record shops. I was buying records at a very young age and that was an image thing more than anything else as it was when CDs were in the main. I credit a lot of it to where I grew up to be honest with you.
Before I even knew what Mod was I was already interested in the ’60s at a very young age. As I say I like to call it a movement as there have been so many types of music attached to going through the decades. It keeps evolving under a loose banner.
London is probably the best city in the world for these things although I think it can be quite fickle?
Yes, 100% especially with the mod movement. It became very insular within and a lot of criticism led to one-upmanship, I didn’t like that.
How did you see Oasis when they came on the go? For us, it looked like very much a football terrace vibe at first. I’m not sure it was manufactured for them but I personally welcomed that as I was coming out of the club scene so it was good timing.
Definitely, and they took some original terrace and mod looks and evolved them. Although I like the football look a lot of it was quite baggy and that didn’t sit too well with me so I probably went more into the mod look and the knitwear. From then I was reverting back into books and magazines and seeing styles more slim cut and the cool knitwear from the ‘60s. Also, there was a lot more music attached to the mod movements I suppose.
I think I mentioned to you before that the mod revival of ’79 didn’t go down well with me. Perhaps it was just the place I was living in then, but these Mods were very much singledimensional with parkas covered in patches such as targets also boating shoes etc. I actually preferred the punks at nine years old then two-tone came.
Agree 100% clones after watching Qudadrophina. The parkas with patches was perhaps influenced by scooter clubs but I didn’t see that as stylish either.
I think when the casuals started although there may have been a crossover, it was a crossover with the original Mods of the ’60s. The link was the attention to detail.
I’ve heard you speak highly of Paul Wellers – Stanley Road album. Is that up there with your best?
I would say so yes, I think it’s like a lot of albums though where you need to be in the mood for certain ones. I think it’s certainly his best. It was like his big comeback it’s different from his early Jam stuff but shows exactly what he can do and it is very original. That’s the thing with Weller, he might split opinions but his stuff is always authentic.
From there, it’s time to give us your other four favourite albums …
Oasis – Definitely Maybe ,
Marvin Gay – What’s Going On
Artic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not
Jay Z – Beyond Reasonable Doubt
Then while we’re at it, your top favourite clothing labels?
We connect or football club as always … Celtic is your team also. Do you get to see them much these days?
Not as much as I would like to these days, I was a season ticket holder up until this season but I had to let it go as I wasn’t getting to the games. I had the ticket for a long time and it actually hurts not having it this season.
Do you expect another long period of domination?
I certainly hope so and I can’t see any reason why not. We seem to be quite financially secure and the recruitment has been spot on, Ange has had a lot to do with that. If we continue getting the correct recruitment then I don’t see why we can’t dominate and push on a bit in Europe.
How do you see the present team? Ange is the perfect fit I reckon?
Yes, 100% but I would be lying if I had said I said that at the start. I had concerns, I mean you’d heard about his personality but I didn’t know what to think. For example, he didn’t even bring his own backroom staff just his bag and just asks “what’s happening?” [laughter]. He must just be so iron-willed it’s like my way or the highway! It’s just more credit to him so yes he is the perfect fit for us. But then you always get worried that he will do a Rodger’s on us but I think Ange really does have an affection for the club. I think he really gets it and if he doesn’t then he’s certainly a genius in PR skills [laughter]. As long as he’s there I think we will be okay. Regarding recruitment you just need to look at Alister Johnston who replaced Juranovic there’s been no difference it’s basically like-for-like. The football is great to watch and the players seem to run through walls for him.
The Japanese players especially, you look how fit they are, like super-human. I mean I recall last season Ange saying Hatate was not 100% up to his level for fitness and we would see the best of him this season, I’m not sure we all believed that but it become a fact. I think he’s the best player in the league. I think the next one who will advance is Iwata, I think he won Japanese player of the year.
Returning to the threads. I have recently discussed those early Skinheads with Terry Farley and others on how smart they were in the Ivy League look and of course very mixed race, very cool. Would you agree those Skins were an off-cut Mod back then?
Again it’s that evolvement, I think it was very much working class with a smart representation of yourself. And you mention the Ivy thing, to me that will always be amazing. I mean UK working-class kids finding Ivy League shirts, I mean how cool is that. From affluent American university types. Same with the Italian knitwear the working class kids were perhaps from the polar opposite but they went after the threads. And you mention the mixed-race element, a lot of it was Jamaican music and a lot of Caribbean communities had well integrated and their styles had started filtering through such as pork pie hats and loafers.
I know, Skinheads would never have existed without its black influence.
No! And amazingly elements of it were highjacked by the far-right stuff, but yeah it certainly came from Caribbean music and style. I liked Shane Meddows’ thing – ‘This is England ’86’ it didn’t shy away from the racist element but it also put a massive negative portrayal on it at the same time.
In conversation with A State of Mind, you talked about Fred Perry and its continuous thread through subcultures. I’ve started wearing it again as I see it as a staple possibly for that reason. It’s been mentioned that the casuals dumped Fred Perry for Lacoste. This isn’t factual either. It’s always been there. Northern Casuals wore it under the name Perry Boys. I believe it’s how you wear it?
Completely agree, you get certain people trying to make out they were or are the trendsetters and style makers and because Fred Perry is popular it’s easy to think I have moved on from that. And as you say it was more Northern Casual thing. It was worn with a skinhead or a wedge haircut. But if you look at a lot of old photo books from images from the late 60s and 70s, what’s the recurring brand … it has to be Fred Perry. I mean it’s been questioned if there is such a thing as subcultures now but you look at the 100 Club in London with the bands and their influence. They actually secured the existence of the 100 Club. So, if you want to identify one brand with a subculture then it is Fred Perry.
And yes as you say it is how you wear it. Not everyone may agree but I think there are certain brands or heritage styles that do things better. For example, Fred Perry does the best polo in my opinion whereas a tracksuit I don’t think they do the best; but Sergio does a better tracksuit. Another example would be a Fred Perry hoody might be seen as less of a definition piece but a cardigan or polo more defined. The Made in England range is the best though I think, that’s the M12 polos although slightly more expensive.
Gabbici is another label you stock, this is a favourite of mine also. It also had a crossover with a few countercultures. From Mod, the early Casuals even the London Cabbies?
I associate the Gabbici knitwear with the original London casuals more. Although
Did you go much on the club scene when staying in London, was that your thing?
Yes and no, not overly. I did go but I wouldn’t say I was a clubber. I think I was more into bands and sitting in cool bars talking about this stuff. I think the best days of the club scene were probably before my time to be honest.
That brings us to the last question, did you go much on Andy Weatherall?
Absolutely, 100% yes, when we’re here chatting about clothes he was so innovative with all. What he done with Primal Scream he produced Screamadellica anyone who is innovative like that deserves credit. Then there’s the early Boys Own stuff, I think his legacy speaks for itself. The reaction when had passed away says it all. He broke down barriers.
Cheers, Brett, we could have chatted all day but thanks for having us mate.
The above song recorded by Bryan Ferry was playing on the tannoy before the match. Every time I hear it now, my vivid memory shoots to that day.
The match was my first day out against Aberdeen, I had been at a few games with crew on the lead up to this. I remember seeing calling cards going about stating: “Congratulations you just have met the Celtic Soccer Trendies” although the mob were chanting “Celtic Soccer Crew” so we seemed to have settled on CSC.
I got to know faces from the terraces over time, they told us we were occupying the bottom of the main stand at Celtic Park next to the old Rangers end (the away end) so a few of us headed there. As this was against the famous Aberdeen — it was always going to be interesting especially with the fact the Aberdeen Soccer Casuals (ASC) had been coming to Glasgow for a few years running a mock and were considered the originals of the early-80s
This was an era where you could pay to get into the match and you could choose where you wanted to be. So, we get in quite early and take up our seats in the bottom tier of the main-stand. A few impressive faces we knew start coming in from the off — numbers were increasing, we were always crowd watching — checking out the latest styles. The threads had moved on from sportswear to cords and footwear; also Paisley pattern shirts, fishing jackets were the new chosen attire a few of the crew were carrying the wee black brolly accessory. Hair was now short!
This was a total buzz being among the likeminded lads. Celtic’s own brand of this counterculture was up and running, the new style stemming from football. I was wearing a said “paisley” shirt buttoned up to the top with cords slit at the bottom and desert boots; boys were becoming men. The Celtic fans thought they had got rid of their casuals due to the fact they couldn’t locate the ski-hats on the terraces anymore; but what was developing opposite them in the main stand was a bigger crew that had evolved.
Some Aberdeen supporters took up seats in the row at the back of us wearing their red and white scarfs, they must have thought they would have the comfort of a nice view from sitting down instead of the terracing; until the mutton brains saw us. There was a slightly odd feeling to this match as it was days after our legendary manager Jock Stein had lost his life in Cardiff whilst managing Scotland. There was a minutes silence before kick-off that was observed impeccably by both sets of supporters, also a top gesture was displayed from the Aberdeen fans as they laid out a red and white wreath behind the goals in memory of Big Jock.
During the match we were looking over at the away end to locate the Aberdeen casuals among their support: they had brought a lot of fans down as they always done. The league was usually a race between us and them so they would always fill one half of the old away end. Celtic took the lead in the first-half and the stadium erupted we were all bouncing up and down in main stand chanting: “Celtic Celtic Soccer Crew” hoping to be noticed, a few of our lads couldn’t resist flipping back and landing on the laps of the Aberdeen mutton brains in the back row of the bottom section. Some of the Celtic lads were pretending to be stuck as they tried to push us off “get aff” in that Oberdeen occent was the cry, while signalling to the police.
After all this had calmed down we became aware to our right that a load of ASC had come into the no-mans-land (which was a wee section of terracing that was usually kept clear between the away end and the main stand) but they had moved in to check us out.
To give them credit they had big numbers but we started chanting at them they started hand signalling mocking the size of us compared to them, they did have a few more older lads, but we knew that was always the case in these early days. Aberdeen were smartly turned out wearing a lot of darker colours looking very anti-suss. Just then the police moved into them and pushed the ASC ushering them back to the main part of the away end.
Aberdeen equalised late in the game which was about to become a flat beer moment, with this being a top of the table clash and of course the smuggy mutton brains in our face chanting: “Oberdeen Oberdeen Oberdeen” like a theme tune to the depression!
With minutes to go, as was the Celtic way; Brian McClair scored the winner (2-1), with utter delirium in the ground we tried to accidently fall back on the muttons in the back row again but they were running to get out the stand — a poor show as we only wanted a kiss and a hug!
Celtic won the match; it was now game on with the ASC, we left the ground together and tried to turn left passed the old Celtic shop but we noticed a barrier was up to stop this so we headed straight down and gathered at the bus stop opposite the London Road Primary school. There was was a lot Celtic fans leaving the ground moving both ways on London Road, about five minutes later we notice the mounted police moving from the away end towards us, that was when we knew they had the away fans and the ASC with them as they tried to keep them at the other side of the road.
Given the amount of scarfers it was quite easy to mingle so we went on the move towards Aberdeen as we became face-to-face with them, they used their experience from fighting our fans previously and they charged at us first, backing us off, also fans with their kids fled as that was the only option they had.
We gathered again across the street just up from the bus stop and we moved up London Road. A few of our main faces grabbed us and we get switched on. This time we lead the charge at Aberdeen the mix of apprehension and adrenaline at 15 years-old and we’re having it toe-to-toe with the ASC, this is Glasgow and it’s Celtic at home so we aren’t budging. There is a few hundred going for it but it was lucky if we could land more than a couple punches. I can also recall seeing the “infamous” golf ball with nails in it flying through the air as well as being cracked with a few black brollies. I recall taking a few dull ones but not feeling a thing this became quite an addiction from this season onwards.
A few of our lot were getting grabbed by the plod and being told it was our last warning, due to the big numbers back then we outnumbered the police on a big scale, it was a nightmare for them.
The plod managed to contain us and the ASC on either side of London Road as we walked further towards Bridgeton, we were now just posturing and getting a good look at the ASC, you could check out their look, no bright colours, very anti-suss with a lot of obscure Adidas trainers.
Out of nowhere someone in our mob lobbed a bottle of Irn Bru into the middle of the Aberdeen mob and with that we followed through over to them. They certainly stood their ground and again it’s kicked off, nobody gets a result as we are all eventually split.
This was my first real taste of it and I was hooked on all of it – Don’t ever Stop the Dance.
The water looked deep and inviting as we sat staring at the flowing waterfall with our bloodshot eyes. We had been there for over four hours now and how time had flown. The whole gang was there reminiscing all our exploits of the past. It had been a few years since we had all met up, on this occasion we had been at the funeral of a dear friend and decided to re-live our youth and return to a spot of our past where many a happy night was spent drinking and laughing around the fire, with the occasional fight thrown in for good measure. We had returned to our own special place “THE FALLS”.
We were a bunch of scallywags, who were brought up in and around the local council estates throughout our small mining village, where if you were lucky your parents worked for a living or unlucky they lived off the state, we never had much money, but we were happy and we made our own fun. A great bunch of guys, who like all others, had some fantastic stories to tell about one another and some even better ones about ourselves as we moved on through our journey of life.
Now Jimmy Lorenzo he is the real charmer of all the guys. He’s always seen himself as a bit of a Jack Palance type of guy, you know, a ladies man, but if truth be told he’d be better off pulling pints than birds. We were in London on this occasion when he and I decided to go out on the town after work (with our bricklaying gear on). As we sat in bar after bar getting more and more inebriated by the minute we decided it was time to hit our local and give the ladies a little taste of our charm. (We could hardly understand each other by this time). We sat at the bar nonchalantly giving signals to each other deciding it was time for us to make our way to the Grand Piano which was situated right in the middle of a raised platform on the dance floor. We proceeded to hush the adoring crowds that had gathered to hear us and meandered off into a somewhat incoherent rant of Dean Martins “Little Ole Wine Drinker”, which amazingly had a great effect on Lorenzo’s pulling power in that public house for the rest of his career in London. After our gratuitous standing ovation like two cowboys we proceeded to return to our perch when all of a sudden the wheels fell off our wagon and crash bang, there was I head smashed off the bar foot rail with blood pouring from me with Jimmy Lorenzo lying on top of me still singing. After a little TLC from a couple of lady friends we continued drinking into the wee small hours of the morning….
Dusty (RIP) was an introverted type of character who never liked anyone getting too close to him, for reasons only he will ever know. He was a very generous guy who would have given his all to help you, even if he had nothing. I could go on and on about this guy but this is one story that really sticks in my mind. We were only young around seventeen at the time, he had always been the type of a Jack the lad character with a bit of this and a bit of that and always had cash. He had just procured a large cash windfall and decided he wanted a car. Here am I sitting in the house this day, when a horn blasts outside and gracing the pavement with its presence was BIG GUS (cars pet name). A 3.5 litre vintage Rover Coupe fully equipped with leather interior, cocktail cabinet the lot. My eyes lit up (it’s a council estate we lived in). So there we were cruising around our little town in this working mans Rolls Royce that was possibly better equipped than some of the houses our neighbours lived in, with our Buckfast, Eldorado and anything alcoholic that would fit into that cocktail cabinet. Time stood still that day for us when Dusty departed this mortal soil. But life goes on……….
Oh now we have Reggie the complete opposite of the latter who would talk the ears off Dumbo and return to sell him a hearing aid? An in your face very opinionated type of guy, but very lovable character. This is a great story as it involved quite a few of the boys to set it up, we had been out and about doing our usual Saturday drinking starting in Maxwells on to Teddy’s and on this day we decided to venture across the river to one of the more affluent public houses Angels, and as it was a fine sunny day to have ourselves a little go at these things they called a beer garden. Our town had never seen the likes. After another long tiresome slog on the beer we decided it was time for a party, so off we set to Eddie’s bachelor pad with drinks a plenty. We were all rather inebriated by this time and as time went on some started drifting off to sleep. Reggie having being the first one to have a little nap was therefore to be the first to face the consequences of whatever dreaded deed was in store from the cunning “Prankster Police”, so lying there on the sofa with his flowing locks of black hair and six inch quiff he was a prime target for the scissor brigade. (I cannot name names here as it was collective prank and to this day still frustrates and angers Reggie when we mention it.) So out came the kitchen scissors and off came the quiff, which was then placed strategically upon his head. Upon awakening we heard the screams and I could not think to mention the language that was used and to our own hilarity he had to trim the rest of it to look presentable as we had another big day of entertainment ahead of us and nothing would have stopped him from attending that…….
I have not forgotten about Noodles who incidentally has too many nicknames to mention. A very smooth character that walks with that swagger that has a little grace yet cheekiness about it. A dapper chap as the gentry would say and very straight laced, well that was up until this fateful day.
Noodles had not long arrived in the Smoke and began working the hod with the rest of the guys but decided enough is enough and had to move on to pastures new. Now you are talking a guy who was living with a millionaire’s daughter in very salubrious area in Bromley in Kent and bringing cucumber sandwiches to work while we were pot licking with cheese. Anyway he lands a new job with large men’s clothes retailer as a manager. Everything is going great guns until one day in walks Dusty (remember him) with of couple of cockney geezers, they get talking and acquainted and one thing leads to another it turns out that these guys are a couple of grifters who are friends of the shady Dusty. The question is does Noodles accept their offer or go home to millionaire’s row looking like Tyson’s punch bag? Well to cut a very long story short in the end everything turned out great and I believe everyone was a winner as his shop sales went through the roof, he got manager of the month, the guys were kitted out for virtually nothing and for every dodgy credit card that was declined at the shop after it was maxed out Noodles got a £50 reward. Result…………
Fred and Bob well, this has to be done as a double act as one could out do another with character, charisma, cheek, petulance and last but not least madness. I think this defines these guys’ characters. This unfortunately is another London story but sums these two guys up. After getting a knock on my door about 5pm one Friday evening only to be confronted by two friends who could pass for Laurel and Hardy anytime as they proceeded to tell me all about their journey down from Glasgow to Ashford and crashing the car because they were arguing, not because they were drunk and they couldn’t see. Well after “TELLING” me they were staying for a few days, we set out on yet another drunken escapade to our local hostelries, every barman got a little character assassination in the true Fred and Bob style (shut it ya dick). We ended up in our local Chinese where everything comes with peas (I was defined by my Chinese friend as the without the peas man). Anyway one of the local hard men was in there terrorising everyone just for the sake of it. He starts going around everyone asking what team they supported and everyone supported Arsenal or Spurs etc. until Bob pipes up and ask the hard man. What team do you support? The hard man replies “PALACE”, Bob replies, what “BUCKINGHAM”. The whole place fell about laughing and the little hard man left with his head hanging low, he had been out witted and out smarted by Fred and Bob in true Blantyre style…….
As a collective bunch of guys we all lived in the same rented house during a period in our life, well let’s just say there was a lot of UB40 and Bob Marley going on and life was very herbal and loads of free love. We would all sit in the front lounge slightly worse for wear and as we had lost the remote control for the TV we would cut cards to see who was turning the TV over (it was actually quicker to turn the TV over as it was a longer walk to cut the cards. It was a principle thing). This particular evening the world cup was on so it was game after game and we were preparing dinner etc. Studs decided to go for a bath and Jimmy Lorenzo (remember him) decided to put the fryer on and the crispy pancakes under the grill for our dinner. We all sat down to watch Ireland play and chill out with a couple of herbal cigarettes. “What about the dinner?” Boney said. We smelled the aroma of burning plastic over the pungent herbal smell and all rushed to the kitchen to find it ablaze, we were running around in a stoned sort of frenzy, looking for buckets, pots anything to put water in, to put the blaze out. Studs who was lying in the bath in another planet was subject to attack from five crazy guys with basin, bowls anything that could hold water, taking water out of his bath to douse the flames in the kitchen only for him to say “What’s Happening Man”. When all the smoke and flames had dispersed the cooker had all but melted, the kitchen was black with smoke and was not habitable, so we decided to paint the hall to keep the landlord sweet, keep the kitchen door closed for the remainder of our tenancy (one month) and buy a microwave for the living room. We still never found that remote control and we thought it better just to moonlight the day before our lease was up and forfeit our deposit. We had some strange funny times……
Then there was the was the night when Nolly, The Colonel and Big Archie were out partaking in a bit of fishing with a rather large carry oot into the early hours of the morning. Packing up the fishing gear they decided they needed more drink and as the pubs were closed they decided it was Archie’s house for more drink. As the evening progressed the Colonel feared it was time to go home, so off he set, but as Nolly lived in Hellhouse he was carefully put up on the camp bed in Archie’s living room. Now as Nolly was renowned for, let me put it politely wetting the bed Big Archie warned him, “Remember Nolly nae pishing the bed.” Nolly’s reply “OK big Guy,” and all went to bed. Three O’clock prompt and Nolly (Marine Boy) wakes up to discover, yes, you’ve guessed it, he pished the bed. In a panic he decides to put the mattress next to the fire to dry and duly fall asleep on the couch. Seven o’clock dawns and Archie’s wife and kids get up for work and school only to open the door to be engulfed by a pungent pishy smell and steam filled room from the drying mattress, with eyes nipping and gasping for air they had to flee to the back door for air. As Archie ventures down the stair Nolly wakes up from all the commotion as says “what’s all the fuss the mattress is dry,” as Archie flies at him Nolly grabs a can of cider and scurries out the front door like a rat deserting a sinking ship. Needless to say Nolly was never a guest in Archie’s abode ever again……
Ned is a very funny guy but doesn’t really know it, (if you know what I mean). Ned worked in the same place for twenty years and carried out the same toil day after day and led a funny but normal life for a single man. He and I had a great times together over a period of years, getting up to all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Ned was always late for work and had used every excuse in the book; alarm didn’t go off, granny died etc. He was in the middle of a disciplinary for his time keeping (again) when low and behold we had been out on the lash on the Sunday and I had crashed at his and he had overslept for work once again. He wakes up and having a nightmare of trying to put his clothes on, brush his teeth and wash his face he sprints out the door half an hour late. In his wisdom decides to take a short cut to work along the railway track to make up time, this being the middle of summer the grass at the railway was about six feet tall. He arrives at work and upon clocking in the gaffer gets a grip of him and said “OFFICE NOW”. No one ever found out what was said in that office but on returning to the local hostelry that evening as part of a single mans ritual, I asked him what was said, his reply to the patrons of that hostelry was, “when the gaffer asked me why I was late this time I said, “This time it’s the truth I got lost in the long grass and had walked right past the work”. The gaffer fell about laughing and told him he had heard it all now and let him off. (The whole pub was creased up with laughter) The mans a legend………
Barney, (RIP) Dusty, (RIP) Crock (RIP) and Hawky decided this day to dog school (play truant) like they did on many other occasions throughout their schooldays. So off they went on a grand adventure down to the local woods (The Cauther) to have themselves a full day of undisrupted fun. After playing around the boredom set in, so the mischief set in, they decided to wander up onto the street and low and behold outside the first public house they came across were a beer delivery truck. (Teenage delinquent’s dreams come true)They lay in wait for the driver and his boy to return to the pub for their customary drink from the landlord before they departed. As the truck was unattended it was easy prey for these young scallywags to help themselves. Up onto the truck Barney goes and throws off a barrel of beer and they rolled it off into the bushes, the unsuspecting driver jumps into his truck and drives away. “Result” says, Dusty, “but how are we going to move it in daylight”, “no problem” says Crock “we will return when it’s dark with my bogie.” Later that night the barrel is placed on the bogie (without the help of Hawky who they have decided to double cross) and they returned to Dusty’s house to go about the deed of emptying it. In the kitchen of the house the barrel was placed on a table raised from the floor on a towel, the big screw top lid was off, the Alpine bottles were at the ready and the hose was in place to start siphoning the beer out. In the meantime Dusty’s mum and dad and two brothers were in the living room nonchalantly watching TV (very understanding parents). As the bottles filled up and the beer kept flowing, on numerous occasions throughout the evening Dusty’s dad was called into action to place his mouth over the hose so as not to spill any beer on the floor. The evening ended with all a little merry and Dusty’s dad got a few bottles of beer for his trouble not to mention about ten pints of overspill from the hose. Hawky never got to find out what happened to that barrel of beer until years later.
As the embers of the fire flicker and dawn approaches we are all heavy eyed as the talking and reminiscing has been concluded. We can only reflect and say, should we have chosen another path to go down, what would we have changed, would it have been for better or worse, we could be here along time …………….
Sometimes nostalgia and wistful reflection take you back to places that carry heritage. I believe that the loss of personal bohemia causes nostalgia. Although it can be mentally draining it’s what attracts the next generations.
“The Dean” is what it was – what it is and will forever be. The names the same.
You can sense the history in the ground and even more so in the club room. Families of generations have had functions here from the ‘60s rock n roll through to ‘70s Tony Christie and later dance music DJs including some renowned names such as Andy Weatherall, Danny Rampling and Slam. It seems like everything starts and finishes here. The stand here shown above is not just “the stand” it is a major player in the town of Galashiels. I have had family and neighbourhood links at the club since I was born, from Les Cossar right through to Kenny Nicol and onwards. I can still hear Wullie Noble saying: “hold it kid … coo on the line” and ” smashing fellie one of the all-time greats”. Those memories are vivid.
The local football club Gala Fairydean merged with Gala Rovers back in 2013. I had affection for both. However, they were always connected and in fact, the Gala Fairydean Rovers was first formed in 1894. In 1907 the club was separated into two teams, known as Gala Fairydean and Gala Rovers. It had been suggested that the Rovers were the Fairydean’s feeder team or reserve team in days gone by. Nevertheless, they are back as one.
The stand is a topic which in recent times has had many discussions. Personally, I am more than happy to know it has been maintained and saved. However, it had fallen into disrepair recently and had to shut down on safety grounds in 2018. Major repairs were approved on this football stand described as an “outstanding” example of the work of modernist architect Peter Womers designed the structure here at Gala Fairydean Rovers’ Netherdale ground in the 1960s. Scottish Borders Council granted planning permission for a £1.45m overhaul and upgrade. This construction has always felt quite unique to me, I have always viewed it as something well ahead of its time, very much a construct you would see in a continental football ground.
The Club is being run extremely well and I was welcomed along by Debi, Ryan and Coco they are family as is Paul Bertram who has been around the club all his life from being a young ball boy and is now considered a pillar of the club. Adam McGlory is still here and has also been involved in the club for decades. Then there’s Bruce Noble, the Wilsons, Tam Cass and not mention Jim Gray, I managed to get a chat with him in the VIP room at half-time.
That’s the beauty of this heritage it is very much community and family-based. As the saying goes “the more things change, the more they stay the same” but that’s how I like this.
Among all of this, the club has progressed very well. There has been a state-of-the-art pitch recently laid and new floodlights the facilities are one of the best in the lowland league – if not thee best. I must mention the pies! Much like Walters in the ’70s, they are magic.
The most humorous part of the afternoon was Ryzo phoning Debi to switch the floodlights on and then naming it “the big light”
As we always used to say “get Yersel doon!” and of course “Get involved”
Last night I partied, till I was in a state Drank so much, couldn’t walk straight Made it home, God knows what way? Lived for it then, dying today
Head is banging, stomach is sore, Spent all morning on the bathroom floor Thoughts of yesterday fading away I try to picture, but no display
Flashbacks fragmented, I don’t recall I know one thing, I had a ball So party up and drink it down Only stop when you hit the ground
Pockets are empty, cash is all spent Had a few quid. Where has it went? Overdo it, and you’ll be made to pay Demons within that’ll last all day
Trying to sleep, my heads in a spin Thought in my mind, the Devil will win I say this now as I’ve said it before No more booze for me anymore………….
KEEP THE FAITH
Some people will never give up Others will always give in We keep up the struggle So the Devil won’t win
There’s always hurt or pain Sometimes sorrow or shame But please remember Two days are never the same
Hold on to your hopes And all of your dreams Life’s never as bad As it all may seem
Take some time to reflect To ask yourself why? And remember someone’s Always worse off than you or I
A new day will dawn But what will it bring Life, health and happiness The recipe of all good things
Mind so full of thoughts Car crash in my head Toss and turn, try to sleep Laying in my bed
Torturing my mind Of heaven or hell Pleasure or torment Snow that’s never fell
Morning beams through Filled with clouds of doom These are all too transient As we watch flowers bloom
A new day dawns The dove takes flight All too happy now Masquerading with delight
Full moon enlightens sky Day becomes night Thoughts of slumber My fear, darkness delight
TRIAL AND ERROR
I got so drunk the other night I travelled back in time Reliving my early youth Drinking tonic wine Carefree days spent with my friends In some wondrous places Acid trips and drunken nights With many familiar faces
I got so drunk the other night I travelled forth in time Grand kids and walking sticks Now I’m past my prime Days are spent in nursing homes With many sorry faces Drugs galore and restless nights With countless midnight chases
I awake and now am sober So glad its present day No regrets now of my past I enjoyed it in every-way Time is spent now with my kids To coach them along the way Teach them, life’s not a trial For to enjoy it every day.
Holywell Street recently hooked up with Lanarkshire’s Iain McMillan. He is a long-term friend of mine and has recently written his first publication. Iain has always been an interesting character in all things football to a subculture which is why he is perfect for this blog section. I’ve always felt his creative streak was overdue. He has had a colourful past from the terrace scene with Motherwell, and his obsession with designer threads and music he has also travelled through some dark times. We could converse all day and usually do, but it is also good to get his memoirs on paper. We met up in McChuills – Glasgow’s Legendary Music Bar on High Street the only place to be.
Good to see you mate, I want to start with the book. I’m glad to see as much as your passion for reading you have now started writing. How and when did the idea come about?
I have written bits and pieces for a few years, mainly just for myself. I always found the process of writing enjoyable and therapeutic. I then wrote some articles in some Motherwell fanzines and contributed to Paninaro magazine. Always pieces about fashion or terrace culture, something I have always been into. When we went into the initial lockdown boredom got the better of me and I began battering away at the keyboard again with no real plan. I just thought I’d have a go at a short story. A few months later I had half the book written, and it flowed naturally. I got a real buzz out of writing it and enjoyed the whole creative thing which I never explored in myself in any great depth before. I found something in myself I didn’t know was there and just went with it not really knowing if it would ever be seen by another soul. When I finished it, I felt I would take the plunge and put it out there.
I like the title of the book I imagine there is a connection to a famous track or anything else linked there?
The title was just a working title initially. Like some of the names in the book I just used the first ones that came to mind when writing thinking I may change them at the end. I am obviously aware of the song and love The Smiths but there is no connection to the Manchester band. When I finished writing the book the title seemed to sit well, alcohol was well and truly a thorn in the main character’s side. So, I kept it, sometimes it’s good to go with your gut instinct and not edit your thoughts too much.
I enjoyed the book as more of a take on the character and his compulsive personality and going through the youth movements of the time rather than an average hooligan book, would you agree?
Totally. I made a conscious effort not to make the book a “hoolie book”. Although the casual thing was a part of the story, there was so much more to the casual scene than just fighting at the football. Clothes were an obsession for most and not just those of us with a compulsive nature. I wanted to show the lengths we went to obtain items of clothing in an era before credit cards or having a great deal of money. It was difficult being head-to-toe in Armani when you were earning £29.50 on a Youth Training Scheme but somehow, we would make it happen by any means. The clothes meant that much to us. I always felt that to those outside the casual scene, it can be misunderstood in a way and just seen as Neanderthals drinking and fighting at the football, but it simply wasn’t like that. There was the comradery and being part of something special. Like the mods of our generation.
The character in the book Frankie is interesting I’m sure a few will relate to him. Also perhaps a sign of the times living in a Northern town during the eighties where status was more important than anything else.
I think growing up in the eighties was a very tribal time. When I started secondary school, everyone was a mod, punk, or skinhead. Teenagers gravitated towards the tribe they identified most with. I think growing up we all want to feel part of something. The casual thing provided that for many young men looking for a sense of belonging and the fact it included wearing expensive clothes certainly added to your self-esteem. Of course, you only become aware of this in Hinde sight but some of those years shape who you are forever.
That’s a decent point about tribal groups, if you recall the late ’70s or early ’80s you had all those countercultures. Punk, Skinhead, Mod, Heavy Metal and you wouldn’t admit to liking each other’s music.
Yeah, you could get a doing for wearing a Specials patch or admitting to liking Spandau Ballet [laughs] it was the same with the clothes you only stuck with your tribe. I think the new generations are very different.
Frankie comes across more like a tough street romantic who is a deep thinker but just gets caught up in what he sees as status, would you agree?
I wanted the character Frankie to have some depth and be honest about his struggles and insecurities. Not just make him a one-dimensional hardman character. I don’t think many of us are like that in all honesty. I think you can be masculine and sensitive at the same time. I wanted to show a side of Frankie that people could identify with. I think the character Frankie was a bit lost and the status he finds within the casuals gives him something he is missing. It makes him feel part of a family unit he lacked at home.
Motherwell seems to have a decent Ultras Scene over there, very impressed with their mental health awareness projects as well. Do you still attend matches?
I go to every home game and a few away every season. I am pushing fifty now and I still feel being part of something at Motherwell is as important to me as it always was. It has just evolved a bit over the years. The ultras are the generation below me and the Well Bois have done a great job to bring atmosphere to Fir Park and they make a big effort with displays week in and week out. Block E are the up-and-coming ultras. They are both very community minded and are always helping out with foodbank collections and making a contribution to the town. I think it’s the way football clubs should be, about the whole community not just supporting the team.
It’s that time again for your Top three Adidas shoes?
Trimm Trab Zx 600 New York
In your opinion did the Casuals kill Stone Island or did Stone Island kill the Casuals?
Personally, I still like Stone Island but it’s not what you wear it’s how you were it as the quote says. However, there is a uniform that goes with it for example Adidas trainers and perhaps Aqua scarf. I have many friends who just won’t wear it. I still like Barbour and CP Company also Nigel Cabourn. These days I like to mix it up with a retro look. I’m not as closed-minded these days.
And can you give us your all-time favourite five albums?
Paul Weller – Wild Wood John Martyn – Solid Air The Beatles – Rubber Soul Ocean Colour Scene – Mosley Sholes Roddy Frame – Surf
Let’s talk about recovery. There seem to be a few people from our era that are working on themselves in a positive way. I noticed in the book that the character realised you don’t have to drink alcohol every day to be an alcoholic?
The word alcoholic has been demonised somewhere along the way. We grow up in a country steeped in booze thinking that alcoholics are strictly the guys sleeping on park benches. Guys who drink white lightning and beg for money. These unfortunates are in the minority of people with drinking problems. The stereotype is a big barrier for people who are trying to address the drinking issue. It feeds that attitude “But I’m not like that” alive. The truth is there are many out there who when they start drinking, struggle to stop. They accept the unacceptable parts of our drinking culture as we are surrounded by it. Alcoholism is normalised in our culture. Some alcoholics may drink daily but there are lots of us who never have. The after-effects of the weekend binge can be just as crippling.
Back to the book. The character Frankie, can you relate to him through your past?
Although the book is fiction, the story is made up of loads of snippets of my life with a few bits made up to fit the story. The beauty of making it a fictional character is that you can play about with it a bit more. It was my attempt at documenting being young in the eighties and nineties, touching on the casual thing and the evolution into rave culture. I wanted to show the after-effects of a life lived to excess and the struggles with mental health thereafter not just a celebration of youth. I don’t think it’s a doom and gloom story I hope it’s more about redemption.
The book for me is also an education on where trauma can lead to addiction and compulsive disorder. I think this needs to be highlighted more with a mental health epidemic upon us would you agree?
Yeh totally. There is so much more information and research out there these days about trauma’s effects on the brain and how this would lead to the compulsion for alcohol or drugs to increase dopamine or find a state of relaxation that is alien to someone who has suffered trauma. I personally found this information mind-blowing and it made the path to recovery far clearer knowing what you had to address to regain a balanced state of mind. I think the current cocaine epidemic is a great concern as it’s having a massive impact on people’s mental health. Recovery and mental health needs to be out of the shadows and show people there is help and hope.
I also thought it was very interesting when Frankie gets sober he finds it hard to find an outlet to channel into. It shows how it can take a lot of stages to unwind learned habits.
I think part of the problem is when you get sober you can feel a little lost until you find your feet a bit. If your whole social life has revolved around pubs and clubs you need to discover new things to fill your time and stimulate you. I can take time to feel comfortable in new situations without anaesthetic to help you along but as time passes you will experience a far richer life. The addictive part of your nature will also manifest itself in other areas, for me it was buying training shoes and records. Some run marathons, get engrossed in work or take some activity to extreme levels. In my experience, this settles a bit in time. It is better to channel this side of you into something positive though or you may end up sober but bankrupt at the bookies!
From your own point of view, how did you find starting to write and get creative?
I have written small bits here and there for years but just for my own amusement. The spare time the lockdown provided enabled me to indulge in it a bit more with no real plan. I think I wrote more honestly as I never thought another soul would ever read it. The more I wrote the more I enjoyed it and I actually looked forward to getting to the keyboard. It never felt like a chore, I think that helped a lot to keep the writing flowing
And do you have any future plans for working on new material?
My plan is to learn from my mistakes and write another book this year. I want to see if I can improve on my first effort. I have a few ideas right now but I have not yet finalised all the details, but I will hopefully get another out before the year ends. I recently did a podcast in relation to the book and recovery and I’d love to do a few more if possible.
Thanks for meeting us, mate. Cheers to Davie and Frazer for their input also.
The Boy with the Thorn in his Side can be purchased here at amazon…
After reaching a milestone birthday this week. Kevin and the rest of the old skool CSC went on an outing to Paisley. In typical reunion style the old stories did flow. Kev takes us on his trip down memory lane.
I suppose we need to go back to the late 1970’s. Around ’78 or ’79. Around that time a lot of the trouble for us lads from Coatbridge centred on travelling on the train between Coatbridge and Glasgow. At each stop another group of Celtic supporters would get on and eventually certain carriages became associated with different areas, in the regular travel through to Parkhead. There’d be some stops, like Garrowhill, where you’d meet Rangers fans on the platform and it would kick off. You’d get benches thrown through windows and seats launched out, from inside the train. Lads jumping off onto the platform or lads trying to get into the train for a scrap. So that’s where my first experiences of football violence began. I was only a kid travelling on the trains to the matches but it felt like running a gauntlet between Coatbridge and Parkhead.
The next thing that sticks in my mind is the 1980 cup final at Hampden, when there was a huge riot after the final whistle. I can remember going on the Coatbridge supporters’ bus to that game. Celtic had won 1-0 and a couple of young lads had gone on the park and ran up the other end. At the other end, they stopped and kicked a beach ball into the net, and celebrated like it was them who had won the cup. That sparked a whole scale pitch invasion from the rangers end. With loads of older guys all on the park chasing these lads back towards the Celtic end but as soon as the Rangers supporters had taken to the pitch, it obviously sparked our end as well and the Celtic fans took to the field to face them down. One thing I remember clearly is that I looked up at the air above the crowd and it looked like a sea of midges or flies but was actually a sea of bottles, cans and other missiles that were in the air. There was that much being thrown. It was a mental atmosphere. I also remember seeing my first policewoman, on a horse. There was this mounted policewoman, riding a white horse through the crowd whacking people with her batten. The police restored order after some time.
We returned to our supporters’ bus and tried to head for the safety of Coatbridge via Glasgow’s south side. As we were driving along we passed a few Rangers fans, which were waving their scarves and flags and giving us the two fingered salute. One of the boys stuck his arse up to the window and mooned at them. Next thing there seemed to be more and more Rangers fans appearing from nowhere, hundreds of them. The bus driver was new to the job, and didn’t know his way around Glasgow; he’d taken a wrong turning and was driving us back into the city, via, the route for Rangers supporters. Our bus got absolutely wrecked. Smashed (Within a week, drink was banned at football etc…Pre cursor for all laws that were later brought in to curtail football hooliganism)
I come from Coatbridge which is known as little Ireland. It’s a 90% Irish Catholic town and the whole town is Celtic mad. It’s inevitable then, that there would be a few lads that were well up for a bit of soccer violence. In the early days it was a bunch of lads that were quite family orientated. It was a tight unit. We went to the football together, drank together, socialised. The boys I went with from Coatbridge would have been my brother James, Gerry, Fudgy.
For a while it was just us, that tight little group but it was probably me more than the others who had a taste for more, and went on to become a CSC lad. It took me a few months to get to know people and get in amongst it with the CSC. They used to call me Kevin ‘the boys’. It was a kind of affectionate slagging of me because of my slightly different, Coatbridge accent. I was known to always turn up and say ‘Where’s the boys? What’s happening with the boys today? Are the boys coming?’ Hence the nickname. The Glaswegians always used to noise me up at first. We used to go to clubs together at weekends, the warehouse, fury Murray’s. We hung around the pubs at George Square, like Sylvester’s, which became the Berlin Bar. The Berlin became a bit of a stronghold for us. That’s where all the lads used to meet up before jumping on the football specials at Queen Street. We’d head off from Queens Street to places like Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh for matches and scraps.
During the 80’s there were times when there were more than 400 lads on those trains. In a big mob like that you obviously didn’t know everybody, so whether people would stand or run, it was an unknown quantity, until the fighting actually started. Some would stand their ground; some would get off their mark (run). It didn’t matter to me where people came from, as long as they were lads that were up for it. We had middle class, working class, guys with money and guys from really poor backgrounds. But all lads together. One of my pet hates, I remember, was when we tried to organise for the football specials in a more disciplined way, you’d still always have lads that just wanted to do their own thing. You know, we’d try to get people to stay quiet, maybe not get so drunk for particular games, don’t shout and sing and draw attention. Sometimes it worked but many times it didn’t. I hated arriving in places like Aberdeen, hoping to surprise them and the lads would just pour off the train and immediately burst into a chorus of ‘Celtic! Celtic! Celtic!’ which obviously drew police attention to us, and often scuppered our plans to surprise other mobs. I didn’t see the point of having no tactics, just jumping off a train and letting everybody know that you were there.
When we went through to Edinburgh, against Hibs, we’d get off at Waverley, the main station. Hibs had tactics, you’d never see them, and then you’d look up and see a little head looking down from a bridge above you. You’d know they had their spotters out. We’d be given a police escort to take us down leaf walk towards Easter Road. No sooner had you started walking down the road, than you’d just be pelted from all sides of the road by bricks and bottles from Hibs’ CCS mob that had been lying in wait for us. Sometimes you never even saw the people who were throwing the stuff at us that was Hibs. We had a lot of good scraps with Hibs. We respected them and they respected us. Well, most of them anyway. Hibs had a bit of a mixed crew. A lot of what you could say neutral lads when it came to politics or Ireland which is fine, but they also seem to let some right wing influence in with them, some of these lads actually supported Hearts and they seem to be able to still keep their politics and join Hibs which were a bit off centre for us, they all came from different areas of Edinburgh, so some of them would have their own views of Celtic. Some were really sound with us; others weren’t. We were never really bothered about who liked or disliked us.
One of the games that were most significant against Hibs was, obviously, the CS gas bomb game, in 1987. About 40 of us decided to get the train through early. The football special wasn’t scheduled to leave until quarter past one, and we were supposed to wait for the rest of the lads, but we had a brainwave and decided to go through earlier instead. So we get off the train at Haymarket and walked to Easter Road, getting there at about 11.30. There wasn’t a soul around when we arrived in Edinburgh. We decided we’d go into one of the football pubs on Easter road and wait there for a while. There was hardly anyone in it when we went in. So were sitting drinking, and all of a sudden the door opens, and a mixed race lad with an English accent says ‘come on Celtic, outside.’ I don’t even know where this guy appeared from. Some of the boys took up his offer, and charged at the door. We went out on the street as the rest of us came at the door, throwing bottles and tumblers also a flare gets fired at the at the Hibs lads assembled outside. We were caught at the door and the manager and barman came to the door and pulled the shutters down. Within a couple of minutes we got the shutters back up and got outside, only to be confronted by the police. There was no one else in sight, and we couldn’t see our two lads who’d been left on the other side of the pub shutters, when the manager had pulled them down. The police took our names but then let us leave the pub. There was a bit of sporadic boxing between us, and we still only had our 40 odd lads. We got chased a bit, back the way, towards London Road, in the direction of Waverley. We got to this street with them chasing us, and all I could see coming towards us was another 300-400 lads. It was then that I though, we’re gonnae get done silly here, there’s even more Hibs coming.
Then I took a closer look at this mob of 300-400 coming from the other direction. There are two lads at the front wearing Bermuda shorts. I had just remembered that my brother and his mate had gone out that day wearing Bermuda shorts. I’ve went ‘yes, it’s Celtic!’ and Celtic came charging over the hill and it kicked off big time. We had Hibs backing off on their own patch on Easter Road. There was big clashes right in the middle of the road. These continued until the police actually put cars and vans in between us. It was a really serious clash before the game. We felt we’d done well. I think at one point I got decked, but I still managed to pick myself up from the ground, and go for it again. There was one Hibs lads standing in the middle of the road who kept shouting for Celtic to come ahead, so I ran up and smashed him one right on the jaw, he ended up going over a car bonnet. Next thing I knew, I had two coppers on me and was handcuffed. The police just said ‘you’re nicked.’ The funny thing was that the cops then turned to the guy who I had punched over the car and said ‘Are you ok Frank?’ and he said ‘yeah, yeah I’m fine.’ The OB was an undercover cop who’d been deliberately provoking Celtic to fight. I thought he was a Hibs lad. So I end up in the jail, I’m sure the cells I was held in were up near Edinburgh castle. I’m sitting in this cell, totally pissed off. I’ve been nicked, fighting an undercover police officer, not only that, I was gonnae miss the match as well and whatever else was going to kick off at it.
Not long after kick off, shortly after 3 o clock, there were sirens going off everywhere. I thought, must be ambulances, a police car, an accident has happened or something. I didn’t immediately associate it with the match itself. From then on the sirens were continuous; they never stopped, not for ages. They bought a lad in, and I’ve heard them asking him before they allocated him a cell, where he was from and what team he was with. The boy answered, ‘Glasgow, and Celtic.’ About 5 minutes later there was another lad, same again. Celtic boy again. Then another and he was Hibs. I’m thinking, what’s happening here? The games just started! Then suddenly there seemed to be a rush on in the police station, loads of people coming and going, but lots of lads being brought in. I heard a cop saying ‘Listen lads, forget the names, and just answer Celtic or Hibs.’ That’s an indication of just how many people were being arrested and processed by the police. After that people just kept coming in. Celtic, Hibs, Celtic, Hibs, accordingly. I still didn’t know what the hell was going on because they’d get me in a separate cell to other football fans coming in.
At around 8pm that night the police decided to release me. I made my way down to Waverley station and got on the train. As I’m travelling back to Glasgow, there were 4-5 Celtic scrafers, completely drunk… They were sitting in the carriage talking about how disgusted they were at the casuals and things that had happened that day. I got off at Queen Street and headed for the Cellar Bar (under Ingram Hotel) where I knew most of the lads would be. As I was heading there I passed a newspaper vender, selling early editions of the Sunday Mail and that’s when I first found out that the gas bomb had been thrown into the Hibs end. I suppose getting the jail earlier in the day saved me from getting busted like many of the other lads after the gas bomb incident. It was one of those crazy circumstances, everything started off good, and then there was the downside. There was no danger to life, in the end. It was about who was number one. We were out to prove that Celtic was the number one mob.
A lot of the guys are married now, settled down and calmed down. Some have passed away since the 80’s and 90’s, all good lads that we still remember fondly. Big Tony, Gary, Sean, Cha, Martin, Big Peter. Tony was a really good friend of mine, we used to socialise together and always backed each other up.
One story I recall involved Aberdeen’s Casuals. The ASC were a good mob. one of the first casual mobs on the scene in Scotland, if not Britain. They used to bring a big firm down to Glasgow on the football specials. There was another pub called ‘Sundowners’. We’d gather in bars like Berlin and Sundowners, on days of home games, from early in the morning. The baby crew, who were mostly underage, used to hang around the amusement arcade. They would scout around the city centre, checking the bus station and train stations for other casuals arriving. They’d watch the specials coming in and let us know how many lads were coming off those trains. On one occasion Aberdeen have come off the train at Queen Street. One of the baby crew came to the pub and told us, ‘that’s Aberdeen arrived.’ There was one lad there with me who was there for the first time. Aberdeen had come off the train and headed straight for George Square. We came charging out of the pub and went running in a line at them. The two sets of casuals have met in the middle of the square, all I’ve seen is a hand holding a steaky, coming over my shoulder from behind me and slicing into an Aberdeen guy’s shoulder. The boy that was there for the first time, and thought he was quite bold and game went white, backed off saying ‘You lot are nuts, you’re crazy.’ I don’t know what he expected. Aberdeen backed right off. I don’t think they were expecting people to be tooled up, but it’s important to tell the truth, and on this occasion, there were some lads carrying weapons. It wasn’t a regular occurrence as far as we were concerned. If you want to talk about mobs that were always tooled up, you’d really have to talk about Rangers. For years we’d fight mobs like Aberdeen and Hibs toe to toe, fist to fist. Then Rangers started carrying tools, and blades. A few Celtic lads had been stabbed and slashed by them. We actually heard that Rangers lads were making bets with each other about how many Celtic fans they could slash or stab in one day. Turning it into a competition.
In the early days, for a home game where we expected other mobs to come to us, we could easily bring together 400-500 lads. As John O’ Kane commented in his book in the 1980’s Celtic ran the city centre, there was no competition in our own city for most of that decade. In the 90’s, with the rave scene gaining popularity, the pills kicked in. People were getting into other lines of business and making good amounts of money from it. So for a few years the hooligan scene was pretty small. Everybody was too loved up to fight. There was also the situation of the gas bomb where hundreds had had their doors kicked in, or the early morning knock, to be arrested by the police. You can understand how ecstasy and the rave scene seemed like a safer form of entertainment than football hooliganism. It wasn’t just Celtic that was affected by that, it happened all over. Various clubs’ hooligans got into music and drugs. The whole scene was affected by it.
There’s a funny story about Big Shuggy. He used to go the games with us all the time and was a really game lad. We were in the Clyde Bar on Queen Street station and there’s 10 lads who’d already been sitting in the pub, who we eventually sussed were Hibs casuals. They came over to us and said ‘Look we don’t want any trouble; we’re just in for a drink.’ They were playing Rangers that day. So we ended up sitting with them, having a drink, sharing a joke and a laugh. We were actually there, waiting on the football special because we were heading through to Edinburgh to play Hearts that day. After 90 minutes of drinking, the Hibs lads wished us good luck against Hearts, but just after that one of the baby crew came into the pub and told us there was a 50 strong mob of Hibs outside the pub. It transpired that one of the groups of Hibs we were drinking with had sneaked out to another pub next to the station where this bigger mob of Hibs had been drinking. The two faced liberty takers had pretended to be friendly and drink with us, while they were trying to plan an ambush. We ended up a little mob of us, kicking it off with them in the square. What I noticed with this fight with Hibs, was some of their tactics. They used to have a manoeuvre that the Zulu warriors used years ago. They called it the Bull, I think it’s called. It was the horns of the bull, they used to clasp each other, like in an arm lock, and when you charged into them, they’d try to circle you so that they trapped a few of the opposition mob in the circle and then leather them. So anyway on this day, when we had this encounter. Some of us had said watch what you’re doing, because we were aware that Hibs had some good manoeuvres up their sleeves, Hibs had locked arms and tried the bull on us, to try and trap one or two of us. Then the next thing, this guy just appears – I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the film Quadrophenia with Sting as the bell boy and top mod Ace Face – well, that was my mate Shug.
He was the bell boy in the Copthorne Hotel. He charged out, still wearing his uniform and went straight into Hibs. He fought like f**k on our side that day, and for his troubles, he lost his job but it was total mental, having a hotel bell boy in full uniform fighting on our side.
Celtic were playing Man United, about 30 of us decided to go to Blackpool and commute from there to the game, at that time I was just married and, my now ex-wife decided that she was coming with me to Blackpool. She wanted a romantic weekend in Blackpool, but s**t happens, and she ended up with me, and all the lads. On the Friday we’d had a good night out, so early doors most of the lads decided to head through to Manchester.
Me, my brother James and a big fella called Hutchy from Irvine, in Ayrshire decided to hang back for a while and head for the promenade in Blackpool. We’re walking down the promenade towards the pleasure beach, and there are about 15 likely looking lads, in shell suits and tracksuits, came past us. They gave us the heavy stares as they walked by. I didn’t recognise anybody, didn’t know who they were. My brother turns and says ‘do you know who that was? That’s Motherwell!’ He says ‘I think they’ve clocked us as CSC.’ so we walked on a bit and my brother turned round just to check if they were still watching us, but they’d actually turned back and were now following us. My newly married wife became a bit concerned. To be honest she started to panic a bit. I was reassuring her, ‘don’t worry’, but also saying to my brother and Hutchy, ‘get ready’. I’d hardly finished the sentence, when big Hutchy had been punched by one of the Motherwell lads and went down like a tonne of bricks. Me and my brother we’re going punch by punch with them, while my wife is standing there, screaming. We’ve been backed off down the road a bit, but poor Hutchy is still lying there in a heap on the ground, completely out cold. I saw 5 Celtic scarfers across the road and I shouted to them that we were Celtic, and fair play to them, 2 of them came running across to help us, whilst the other 3 basically turned their back like it was nothing to do with them. It kind of indicates the split in the scarfers when it comes to casuals, half of them have got no problem getting stuck in alongside casuals, while the other half want nothing to do with us. So, we’ve been backed off down the promenade a bit and the police arrive. Hutchy was no longer there on the road, we found out about 30-40 minutes later, that he’s been taken by ambulance to hospital. With everything calmed down we headed for the hospital and were taken to a ward where Cutchy was still lying unconscious. What we didn’t realise was, that it wasn’t a punch that had felled Cutchy, he’d been hit on the side of the face and head, with a hammer and his jaw had been broken. I had been wondering at the time, why such a big lad like him, had gone down so easily after one punch… But clearly, it was the hammer hitting him that had knocked him out cold. That night when the other lads arrived back from the game, we told them what had happened and that Hutchy was in hospital. The lads were cracking up, Motherwell had taken liberties on us and they wanted revenge, but we didn’t know where Motherwell would be. We went to the palace nightclub looking for Motherwell, hoping they would be there, but instead of finding Motherwell, it ended up kicking off with Leeds lads, who we’d stumbled into out of the blue and it just went off. That was a bit of a night. Chairs and everything getting thrown. I remember being thrown down a flight of stairs at a nightclub, by a huge black bouncer. Next morning I’ve gone to a pub round from the hotel on the promenade. The rest of the Celtic lads came in. We’re all sitting there drinking and one of the boys comes into the pub and says, ‘Yes, we’ve found them.’ By that time, we’d been drinking, ‘Found who?’ and he goes ‘Motherwell, we’ve found Motherwell, they’re here.’ Some of them were hanging around their B&B breakfast bar with a Motherwell flag hanging out of the window. We decided, let’s have them. We went round and tried to goad some of them out of their B&B for a fight; then we just got fed up and steamed the B&B and smashed it up. The funniest outcome of that incident was when the next day’s local paper in Blackpool, claimed that it was Chelsea fans that had smashed up a local guesthouse. We surmised that the people in the hotel hadn’t understood our accents, and when we had been shouting ‘ Celtic! Celtic!’ they thought we had been chanting ‘Chelsea! Chelsea!’ So Chelsea got the blame for something that Celtic did. I suppose it makes a change for them, as they are always blamed by the Scottish press for whatever Rangers do. In conclusion though, Motherwell was totally out of order. They’d taken liberties. 3 lads on their own, one of them with his wife and those liberty takers attacked us. Not only that, they’ve put a guy in hospital by attacking him with a hammer. They had the numbers that they could’ve just slapped us and done us, but one of them had to take hammer to us. That’s taking the p*ss. We’ve also had some good rucks with Motherwell, away to them and in our own city when they’ve travelled through.
Carlisle Vs Wrexham:
A group of us decided to down to Carlisle for the Carlisle v Wrexham match. We had a good relationship with the Wrexham casuals. Guys like Neil, Pinch, Pun and a few others. We took 4 car loads down for that match. Shuggy had already gone to Wrexham 3 days before and travelled up with Wrexham for the game. A few more of our lot made their own way down on the train. We got to Carlisle about half 20 in the morning, parked the cars and went into a pub called the Red Lion, near to the train station. We were getting a few funny looks from people who were sitting in the corner of the pub. They didn’t look like anything, just regulars from that bar. I went into the train station to check on train arrivals. Just as I’m doing so, a train pulls in, and there, with his head out of the window, was Shuggy. Wrexham had arrived, or so we thought. Wrexham’s mob weren’t on the train; they’d decided that without the numbers to go on a football special, 40-50 of them only, would travel up by coach for the match. Shuggy had taken the train up by himself, knowing that we’d be at the station to meet him and expecting a mob of Wrexham to pour off the train with him! It was only shortly after Shug arrived at the station that Carlisle appeared, and kicked off with us. As we came out of the station, we’d seen a bus passing by a side street then go out of sight, then pass another side street, with about 100 Carlisle lads chasing after it. Some of the windows had been crashed in, so we thought Wrexham must’ve arrived. We ran up the hill from the station, turned the corner and Carlisle’s casuals are walking back towards us, but obviously baffled as to who we were. So we just steamed into them, our 20 CSC. Even during the fight with them, I can still remember the bewildered looks on their faces. They hadn’t put Wrexham and Celtic together and still couldn’t figure out what the fuck we were doing in Carlisle. Some of the Wrexham lads were jumping out of the smashed back window of the bus heading towards us as well. One of their boys, who knew us, shouted ‘It’s ok, they’re Celtic, and they’re with us!’ In the end we got herded onto their bus by the police, and we got a big cheer as we boarded the bus, from all the Wrexham lads. The police then decided that we were to be taken to the ground for the match, even though there was still 2 hours to kick off. We also found out later, that the Red Lion bar near the station in Carlisle is the English border crew’s main haunt. The police take us up to the ground 2 hours before kick-off, and put us in a terrace which I can only describe as, a cow shed with chicken wire and barbed wire across the front. We were bored in there, until people start arriving at the game. Then more and more of Carlisle’s firm have started coming in and making cut throat gestures at us, and telling us that we’re going to get done after the match. With Wrexham and the rest of the Celtic lads that had arrived in Carlisle, we decided to head into the city centre. It seems also that the lads from Glasgow who’d arrived by train had also immediately kicked off with Carlisle in the station. During that fight, Peter and Shug had been separated and trapped in the train station, when Carlisle turned on them, they ran into a cafe inside the station, grabbed as much as they could to fight with, weapons etc., and Carlisle just steamed in the cafe where people had been having a quiet drink before their trains. We didn’t see those lads that day again, but I think it went alright for them, as they emerged from it, pretty much unscathed. The police eventually caught up with us, we were surrounded and they bought in horses. There was no way they were letting us roam freely in their town centre that night. They put us in vans telling us they were putting us on the first train to Glasgow. Those of us who’d come by car, were taken to our cars and told to get into our cars and head straight home. To be fair to them, the old bill handled the situation pretty well. They were surprisingly well humoured throughout, joking and laughing with us, and asking us what the hell we were doing down there! A few of them were asking us what Celtic Vs Rangers games were like. They were curious more than annoyed with us and basically they just wanted us out of Carlisle and were quite happily to do it amicably, with a laugh and a joke. They told us laughingly, ‘get back across that border, and don’t come back!’
Central Station Glasgow. Celtic are playing away to St Mirren. Me and a pal walk onto the concourse, it’s quite early and us fellow Celtic fans acknowledge each other. There’s a Strawberry blonde lass with a Celtic flat cap and green and white scarf with patch of the pope on it. She’s also wearing jeans and white trainers.
It had become clear that our Kate did not suffer fools gladly. She had a big heart but you don’t disrespect her or cross her. She had these blue eyes (only thing blue about her!) that showed no fear and would back you to the hilt.
She has a young boy with her; we all say hello. “Let’s go to the Chippy Central Station” she pipes up. So we go down. We get our food and go back up the escalator but we notice two lads sitting with tracksuits on and bleached jeans. We know these to be casuals. One shouts up ‘UVF’ giving us a semi stiff arm. Our new pal Katie turns round and gives the m ‘IRA ya poof’ the two casuals do not respond.
I would see her at a few matches after this and she would always acknowledge you. It was over a year later that Celtic had organised themselves into a a crew of casuals. Firstly Roman Catholic Casuals (RCC) onto Celtic Soccer Trendies (CST). It was settled on Celtic Soccer Crew (CSC).
As we were gathering in town one afternoon I recognise a face. She’s wearing a leather patch work top and carrying a black umbrella, it’s Katie. I thought ‘oh no’ but then my thoughts go to how I remember her and why she’s there.