1979 to 1981 was the Golden Age of "boys", when the youth of
Liverpool and Manchester entered a volatile confluence of ideologies and
power-plays, which were acted out outside the football stadiums and
train stations of those cities. The rest of England festered in
ignorance, while an exhilarating new way of life emerged, which, in
time, was to affect all of Britain.
Andy Nicholls does us all a great service by providing a story from
the perspective of what many considered to be the "top boys" - Everton.
That a scouser claims the credit for his city as the founders of this
movement is no surprise — and pretty much 90% correct. The "mickeys"
were almost single-handedly responsible for the backbone of the "boys"
movement. Liverpool's following of their team across the continent
(the A + B = C equation, which is a brilliant stroke by Nicholls) was
definitely a major, major moment in English style. However, the
1979 release of the Who movie, "Quadrophenia" was also a factor.
As the scousers moved across Europe with their label-oriented,
"jibbing" mindset, the lads of Manchester went to work on basic style
and well-constructed clothing, å la lambs-wool and cotton trousers,
Kicker's boots, cotton designer shirts, Fred Perry's and boat shoes. The
transition from mods to "boys" took about three weeks in 1979, in
Manchester (as opposed to 10 years elsewhere) though the numbers were
then a fraction of what they were in Liverpool.
While Merseyside robbed continental sport-shops, Manchester "ragged"
places like Kendals, Austin Reed's, Top Man and Debenhams of their
sporty but sensibly assembled fashion gear (and this was when you got a
quality shirt from Top Man that would last a lifetime and still look
new). We had the colour of the tracksuit as well as the taste of tweed
and kashmir. What resulted was an interdependent and rewarding overlap
by both sides, and an unforgettable series of clashes from '79-'81,
during which many ego-casualties were suffered on both sides.
I will never forget the times I went to Liverpool and the times they
came to Manchester, and the excitement we all experienced during this
era. Everton and Man United set a standard during this moment in
history, and Andy Nicholls is the closest you'll get to living it if you
weren't there. His accounts of of it all represent living history
of a trend that has outlived ALL others. I only wish he would have
dwelled on that Golden Age ('79-'81) throughout the entirety of his
I imagine a lot of cockneys and others would love nowt more than to
be taken on a magical mystery trip through those times, as many of them
only know of the latter-day smaller crews of disturbed individuals going
at it, rather than 400-plus crews of lads who just wanted a thrill at
any cost, and who understood that what they were into was of their own
Let's not forget the birds, either. They wore their own stuff, and
just seemed to know what would compliment what the lads were wearing.
Andy Nicholls says the drawn-out debates, about who started what and
why, are boring, but there are many who would disagree, especially in
the Northwest of England. I am a Manc and proud of it, but I tip
my deerstalker hat to Andy, because I remember how the Everton boys
performed in that great era, which means so much to so many...