I’m not much of a one for merchandising. I mean, I’ll stop and look at it when it’s on sale, and I love football shirts, though I suspect that I am now too old to be able to wear them in public. I don’t much like the idea of being “identified” as a football supporter on the way to or from a match. The one exception to this rule, however, is my blue and yellow bar scarf. It is a singular accident of fate that so many of the teams that I watch reasonably regularly – AFC Wimbledon, St Albans City and AFC Sudbury – all wear blue and yellow, so having a single blue and yellow scarf covers a multitude of sins.
Now that winter is here, it’s time to drag Old Faithful out again. It’s October, the leaves are starting to brown and the nights are getting shorter. I’ve switched from my summer coat to my winter coat (not in the sense that a cat or a dog might, though). It’s time for the scarf. On a personal level, the joy of this scarf is in the warmth and luxuriousness that it provides. It is made from thick wool and nestles against the back of my neck in a manner that offers a delicious combination of warmth and comfort. It’s the clothing equivalent of a warming mug of chocolate or a roaring log fire.
From a sartorial angle, it is, arguably, a head turner. With no official embellishments – not even so much as a badge – anyone with any interest in football will quite likely pass me in the street and wonder, “who does he support?”. There are no obvious candidates for a team that wear yellow and blue – could it be Oxford United, Torquay United or the French club side, Sochaux? As I pass through the streets of Brighton on the way to one of my many appointments, I maintain an air of mystery and ambiguity at all times in my sporting dealings. This is exactly as things should be. It is long enough that, should I wish to allow such a situation to come to pass, I can allow the tassles to hang teasingly out the bottom of my coat. Alternatively, I can adjust the neck so that just a flash of blue and yellow is visible to the watching world.
My own scarf is bespoke, hand crafted over a period of many weeks from the finest acrylic materials. This doesn’t, however, mean that you can’t share in the joy of owning a bar scarf of your very own. A quick search on Google confirms that these good people offer a range of bar scarves in a range of different colours that could be described as being not far short of “all the colours of the rainbow”. The more flamboyant amongst you may even choose to go for the three colour look, though my own personal conviction is that this may be a step too far away from the understated look that I cherish.
Most football fashions of the past have died away quietly. Does anyone still take a rattle to a match in any sense other than an ironic one? When I was a child, there was a brief fashion for sweat bands, probably inspired by Peter Withe’s goal-scoring exploits for Aston Villa in the European Cup. The bar scarf, however, remains a design classic thanks to the brilliant simplicity of its design. And it keeps your neck warm on those chilly winter afternoons.