They really are an abomination, aren’t they? Those half-and-half scarves that seem to have sprung in the last few seasons, I mean. Their very existence is so wrong on every level, it almost beggars belief they exist at all, let alone are bought with hard cash and then draped around the neck with what appears to be no shame whatsoever by the wearer.
Just who are these people? Are we finally seeing the emergence of the mythical ‘neutral’ fan so beloved of football commentators. That band of supporters, numbers unknown, who move amongst us at games, previously unseen, unidentified and unnoticed, but who are now coming out in droves - loud, proud and gaining in confidence. We’re neutral and we’re here to stay.
It’s a novel concept, I grant you - and not one I’ve really managed to get my head around as yet, to be perfectly honest. Presumably these half-and-halfers want both teams to win. Neat. It means they never leave a ground disappointed. Even a draw is the best of both worlds. Heads you win, tails you win. Hmmm.
What puzzles me as much as why anyone would ever want one of these mutations is who came up with the idea of them in the first place? And why did they ever think they’d sell? Sadly, sell they undoubtedly do. Worse still (and I don’t think I’m just imagining this), I think they are proliferating.
And like the football equivalent of Japanese knotweed, they are devouring your traditional one-team, one-colour scarves and muscling their way to the very front of the souvenir stands. You’d imagine that if they existed at all, then they’d be stored (ahem) under the counter, as it were; available (strictly adults only) on a nod and a wink, and knowing the right places to look in the first place.
But no, they are openly draped over the arms of wandering vendors outside grounds and obscenely thrust in the faces of the young and the impressionable as if they are… well, normal. And they’re not… are they? Please, please, for mental well-being, tell me they’re not.
Is this what football has become? So sanitised and so neutral, so dictated to by television (okay, that’s just a gratuitous dig; I’ll exonerate them for now from direct responsibility for half-and-half scarves!) that it’s now ‘may the best team win’ and you can have every base covered with an interchangeable three-foot length of wool.
What if they’d been around in the 70s and 80s, when snatching scarves from opposition supporters was almost a national sport? Imagine the confusion for the nicking neanderthal when rather than bagging a whole scarf, it was really only half a scarf? Even more confusing, the other half was that of his own team. And while his brain turned to mush while digesting this apparent paradox, at least the original owner could make good his escape and avoid the traditional slap that would go with it.
I digress. Half-and-half scarves are definitely a modern creation. Like so many others, I never want to see a return to those days when going to a football match was to risk life and limb. I don’t really wear colours these days, to be honest, but that’s out of choice now, whereas once it was out of necessity - that is if you can call not getting a good kicking for having the temerity to support the other team a necessity, which I do.
Old habits die hard and all that – and although not wearing colours as often as I once did, when it comes to away matches that decision is still dictated more by who we are playing than what’s hanging up in my wardrobe. I envy these innocents who sport their colours at away games, seemingly oblivious to the inherent danger that still exists, if no longer as prevalent, and probably totally unaware of how it once was.
But the pendelum has swung too far with the advent of the half-and-half scarf. I accept the argument that it’s a free country and wars were fought to enable people attending a football match to wear a scarf purporting to be City at one end and Town at the other if it pleases them to do so.
I also accept that so far I haven’t remotely constructed a valid argument against half-and-half scarves, let alone put forward a case as to why they should be banned. I am not sure, in all honesty, that they can or ever will be. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. As a fanzine editor, I have to believe in enterprise (how can I not?) but I can’t remotely begin to defend these abominations, even less support their very existence.
A confession. I am not really quite in the dark about half-and-half scarves as I make out. Or rather about who buys them, and why. You see, I am good friends with many of the Norwegians who support QPR and who travel to watch Rangers home and away, good or bad, Premiership or Championship. Not all by any means, but many will happily buy one of these scarves as a souvenir of the match, even when decorated from head to toe in blue and white hoops.
And therein lies their value – if such a thing is even possible – way beyond the understanding of we home-grown supporters. Half-and-half scarves are souvenirs. Nothing more, nothing less. Just tacky souvenirs. The kind you look at and wonder who on earth would buy that. Daytrippers, that’s who, mate. Football tourists. To them, it’s a big deal; to us, it’s just another day, another fixture. An adornment for a selfie to post on a Facebook page.
If there’s a case for banning them (half-and-half scarves, that is, not football tourists!), it’s in order to save them from themselves. They know not what they do, and all that old cobblers.
What next? Half-and-half replica shirts? I think the Orwellian nightmare might already have come true, if my Twitter timeline is anything to go by. I don’t know if the images I’ve seen are for real or the work of someone with Photoshop, a sense of mischief and too much time on their hands. Either way, I can’t bring myself to look.
A campaign to rid the game of half-and-half scarves? Where do I sign? Personally, I am clinging on to the hope that they are nothing more than a five-minute wonder and will eventually go the way of inflatable bananas. It’s either that or a reluctant return to the traditional sport of scarf-snatching – and surely none of us want that, do we?
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