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For the Irish surname, see Scally. For the defunct satirical magazine, see Scallywag (magazine).

Scallie or Scally, is also short for Scallywag,[1] a term used as a name of a UK subculture of working class youth who had adopted a street fashion including the wearing of branded sportswear often with a baseball cap and with a hoodie worn down, not covering the face.[2]

After negative press coverage the term became a derogative and associated with hooliganism and crime.[3][4]


The word's origins lie in the Irish language. It is short for scallywag,[5] 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 Knowsley, Liverpool, Manchester, Salford, St. Helens and Warrington. In Liverpool 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 As one leaves the industrial belt of the Mersey and Irwell valleys the word appears to have been replaced by chav.

Scalie also skellie is 18th and 19th century Scots and means squinting, squint-eyed or lop-sided, awry. In the 20th century it could mean an error, going astray. [6]

The evolution of the scally[edit]


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 F.C. 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 and Manchester United fans were noticeable with their new look - compared to Londoners who still dressed in the typical airwear 1970s look accompanied by wearing the respective colours of their teams.

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.


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.

The decade also saw footballers merge into the popular culture scene and sporting stars like Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman were oft labelled by the British media as being scally characters as well as Spice Boys, lending the term an air of innuendo and hedonism.[7]


Liverpool comedian Keith Carter's scally character Nige was the subject of a BBC Three television series produced by Steve Coogan's Baby Cow company.[8]

In January 2008, Liverpool's opening Capital of Culture event featured an appearance by Riuven, a Scally rapper, whose songs reflect many aspects of scally life, notably pot smoking.[9] Like The Streets, Riuven treads a fine line between reality and parody.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chris Roberts, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind Rhyme, Thorndike Press,2006 (ISBN 0-7862-8517-6)
  2. ^ "Scally Central". Scally Central. Archived from the original on 1 November 2002. 
  3. ^ John Williams, Cathy Long, Stephen Hopkins (2001). Passing Rhythms: Liverpool F.C. and the Transformation of Football. Berg Publishers. ISBN 1-85973-303-4. 
  4. ^ Chrisafis, Angelique (2002-01-18). "Get with it". London: Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2007-12-27. 
  5. ^ worldwideworlds definition of "Scallywag"
  6. ^ Robinson, M, 1985 The Concise Scots dictionary, Aberdeen University
  7. ^ Football: McManaman changes perceptions
  8. ^ Chapple, Mike (3 October 2007). "Scally Nige heading for small screen stardom". Liverpool Daily Post. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  9. ^ O'Keeffe, Greg (27 September 2014). "Capital of Culture launch storm: Rapper Riuven hits back at his critics". Trinity Mirror North West & North Wales. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 


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