Sunday, 17 June 2012
Summer of 1990 and No Alla Violenza
For some reason the current football European Championships have got me thinking a bit about Italia 90 and the summer that competition was held. Not sure why. I remember balmy nights and excitement in the air, whereas June 2012 is wet and miserable, in every sense – we have just witnessed an England team showing a bit of fight for the first time in many years, invoking memories of the fight back against Cameroon in Naples 22 years. Well for me anyway.
Back in 1990, football wasn’t yet a middle class pursuit and there was often blurring counter culture boundaries that separated the younger, often hooligan associated aspects of football and the underground club scene, especially when it came to fashion. There is one item of clothing in particular that bridged those worlds and reminds me of that long, hot summer in 1990 too – the ‘No Alla Violenza’.
Designed to promote a peaceful Italia 90, they became the one of the most ubiquitous club fashion items of the year, striking a chord with many who spent their weekends not just on the dancefloors but also the terraces of London and Manchester, where they sold in on trend shops like Duffer and Geese. Maybe it was a loved up vibe that seemed to fit with times, as some former hooligans got loved up as acid house culture entered its third year? I’m not sure but the t-shirts were everywhere, clubbers, shop assistants, toe-rags, love-thugs, and even pop stars, like acid house pin-up, Jon Marsh and his group, The Beloved, in the picture above.
And the slogan even found its way onto the official England World Cup Song with Boys Own Terry Farley and Andrew Weatherall using it to name one of their remixes of New Order’s ‘World in Motion’, possibly the greatest football song of all time.
I’m not sure the hoards who actually travelled to Italy got the message though, because Italia certainly wasn’t violence free, with England being based with Holland and Ireland on the island Sardinia, upon which tens of thousands of fans descended, along with around 4,000 baton happy Italian police. Unsurprisingly, it ended in tears and tear gas - call the Carabinieri indeed!
But back in London, we just had nice t-shirts, even better weather, long hot nights of dancing that never seemed to end, new experiences, adventure and the first great summer of my adult life.