Friday, November 21, 2014

Skin Deep

One of the most overdone tropes in the oi subculture is the use of football culture. I say "overdone" because I am trying to be polite. The fact is that most of the oi subculture just shouldn't talk about football. It is embarrassing. Songs like The Cockney Rejects' "War On The Terraces" or The Business' "England 5 - Germany 1" operate in counteraction to what oi should bring to the footballing world.

One of the most annoying sights in the modern subculture is your oi fan turned football connoisseur. By connoisseur, I mean wears a scarf everywhere he goes, drinks exclusively at pubs, and supports a middling English team because it is romantic. In the USA, it is doubly annoying because these types do it for the MLS.

Here's a fact about the modern oi-fan at large in the USA: they're nerds. They're nerds backed by a haircut, fashion sense, and cultural sensibility that British guys thirty years ago (likely with very questionable views) made famous and intimidating. It is painful to see it. Especially when it comes to football.

I'm Turkish. We have our own understanding of football. When Turkish fans attack / maim other fans, I'm happy about it. It is a point of pride with me. British fans are usually most vocal in their disgust of Turkish fans (notably in 2000 after the Leeds United - Galatasaray UEFA Cup tie). Brits and Turks don't like each other. We never have and we never will. The modern discourse of this hatred really goes back to World War I (between T.E. Lawrence's subversion of groups within the Ottoman Empire to Churchill getting slapped around at Gallipoli). In recent years, our hatred for each other has taken on new forms on the football pitch (most famously in the Euro 2004 qualifiers when England and Turkey were in group together). British football fans regard Turks as savages and animals. If Alf Ramsey was still alive, that's what he would say about us. We're the new Argentines.

Let me clue you in on why the Brits hate our footballing culture so much. Because we are them. We are who they used to be. Until the early 1980s, the British were the savages of Europe. Destroying cities everywhere they went, attacking other fans, etc (a lot of this is highlighted in Bill Buford's book, Among The Thugs). Before there was the farcical Green Street Hooligans film, there was Heysel. The Turks are simply the British if there had never been a Heysel. Fanatical, without reason, and violent.

Maybe this is why Skin Deep's catalog has always resonated with me so much. There's no romanticizing about football culture as a Sunday afternoon at the pub over a pint. It is a day at the club's ground, hoping beyond hope for a victory, and a well-concealed knife that is ready to go if it need be. Football is not about beer, scarves, and chants. It is about blood, pride, and silver. To this point, it only made sense that oi would naturally gravitate toward football. Scotland's Skin Deep were only around briefly from 1983 to 1986. They recorded a demo and an EP called Football Violence. Above all other oi records that address the genre's relationship with football, this is the best.

Included is the band's demo and the Football Violence EP.

1 comment:

  1. Cool post man. Being Mexican I also grew up on soccer (futbol) but our understanding of it, at least until the last two decades, when Mexican fans started mimicking Argentina's "barra" style, was a bit more mellow. Overall I'd stay it's still mellow compared to Europe and South America. You're on-point regarding the US Oi/Football fan, haha. I remember being like 10 years old and having to go to sketchy bars with my dad to watch Copa America, when it was only available on closed circuit. So it's funny how soccer has become way more popular in so many ways. In SoCal even getting jersey's used to be a mission, now you find them in Targets or Wal-Mart. Would love to see what you think of Old Firm Casuals haha!