Scally is a slang term for a social subculture youth, similar to "chav", but with different origins. The term is used across the UK, predominantly in the north-west of England and particularly in Liverpool to describe mostly young, working class people. [citebook|title=Passing Rhythms: Liverpool FC and the Transformation of Football|author= John Williams, Cathy Long, Stephen Hopkins|year=2001|publisher=Berg Publishers|id=ISBN 1859733034] [Scally is also a very strong surname of an irish family of 52 people who live in surry and west sussex.cite web
title=Get with it
publisher=Guardian Unlimited
last= Chrisafis

Often romanticised through TV programmes like Brookside and Bread, the word 'scally' during the 1970s and 1980s meant someone who was a pioneer in fashion trends, and someone who was resourceful beyond his means with limited resources to begin with. During the 1990s the term started to be used to describe a yob or a hooligan or scally wag.


The word's origins lie in Irish language. It is short for "scallywag" [ [ worldwideworlds definition of "Scallywag"] ] , which comes from an old Irish word for drudge or farmservant — "sgaileog". It is a word which appears to be in common use within towns that have historic Irish communities, for example Salford, Warrington, Knowsley, St. Helens and Liverpool, where it is sometimes abbreviated to "scall". As one leaves the industrial belt of the Mersey and Irwell Valleys the word appears to have been replaced by chav.

Differences between the scally and the chav

The scally has a much more diverse and detailed history. In terms of stereotypical dress, scallies today (particularly in Liverpool) often wear designer tracksuits and trainers (Nike Air Max and Reebok Classics in particular). They also wear dark coloured clothing usually black, navy blue and grey. Although fashion trends differ even between areas as close as Liverpool and Chester or Manchester and Bolton. This is in contrast to the chav's stereotypical counterfeit Burberry outfits and excessive “blingjewellery

The evolution of the scally


Although the adoration of brand name clothing stems from the Northern Soul scene, it is generally regarded that the first scallies were supporters of Liverpool FC who stood on the Anfield Road Terrace end of their football stadium. The earliest occurrence of this new fashion trend was evident in the Spring of 1977 where Adidas Samba footwear and Adidas t-shirts became en vogue with the Liverpool youth.

By the August 1977 Charity Shield game between Liverpool and Manchester United Liverpool fans were noticeable with their new look- compared to Mancunians and Londoners who still dressed in the typical airwear 1970s look accompanied by wearing the respective colours of their teams.

Young Liverpool entrepreneur Robert Wade Smith — then an employee for a Liverpool department store — noticed the endless demand for sports footwear in Liverpool — which at one time outsold London by three to one. Smith decided to open his own store and hired a van to bring back rare sportswear from Europe which were difficult to buy in the UK. Wade Smith is now closed down.

By the 1980s the 'Liverpool look' (it was rarely called scally back then) went overground and its 'look' was fed by travelling football fans who returned from Everton and Liverpool games in Europe with designer sports goods.


1981 also saw the Toxteth riots in Liverpool and the economy stagnated and fuelled high levels of unemployment. All these factors along with Liverpool fans becoming bloated on success — saw Anfield attendances for football games drop. It also was the beginning of the end for the Liverpool scally. With the rest of the UK following the new trends now almost religiously and economic factors making expensive sportswear purchases illogical — Liverpool abandoned the scally scene and began to 'dress down' with a scruffy look.

Typical of the contradictions that are associated with the scally during the 1980s was their penchant for golf (due to the brand name clothing that pervades the sport) and several 1970s supergroups notably Genesis and Pink Floyd. [] Names, which can still be spotted as fading graffiti on Liverpool walls today —.

During the 1980s the TV Character Damon Grant from Brookside came to epitomise the Scally of this era.


The 1990s saw a pivotal change in the characteristics of the scally with national re-invention through the comedy sketches by Harry Enfield. His tracksuit-wearing characters "The Scousers", with their phrases such as "calm down, calm down!" and "eh, eh, eh!", gave the scally a perhaps unwelcome national media exposure that, ironically, the Liverpool youth began to imitate.


Liverpool comedian Keith Carter's scally character "Nige" is to be the subject of a BBC Three television series produced by Steve Coogan's "Baby Cow" company. [ [ Liverpool Daily Post, 3 October 2007] ]

In January 2008 Liverpool's opening Capital of Culture event [ ] featured an appearance by Riuven a Scally rapper, whose songsreflect many aspects of scally life, notably Pot smoking. Like The Streets, Riuven treads a fine line between reality and parody.


*Thornton, P., "Casuals: The Story of Terrace Fashion", Milo Books, London 2003. ISBN 1-903854-14-8
*Lost lives that saved a sport — The Observer — Sunday, April 3, 2005 [,1563,1448505,00.html The article on Guardian Unlimited]
*Comprehensive view on history of Scally clothing: [ How LFC fans changed fashion forever]
*Liverpool football culture in late 1970s [ The Terrace Thing]
*Where d'ya get yer trainees from? [ BBC News Feature]
* Riuven offends Capital of Culture []

External links

* [ Scally Central] Scally Central
* [ In the name of the Charver] A research project into the dialectal variation of words for 'scally'
* [ "How To Shop Like a Scouse Scally" from]
* [ "Scallies" by Mike Richmond, article about Liverpool band The La's from Spiral Scratch magazine, April 1991]
* [ Dark Side of the Mersey] How Scouse Scallies adopted prog rock in mid 1980's

See also

* Casuals
* Chavs
* Neds
* Scouse
* Townies
* Scrotes
* Chavettes

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