Anyone new to the sport of soccer will quickly notice the abundance and variety of scarves. For us in Chattanooga, many ask, “Why in the world are you wearing a scarf in July?!” Despite the absurdity of wearing a scarf in 90+ degree weather, many Chattahooligans still do so. The reason why started in England in the early 1900s.
At the turn of the century, soccer fans typically wore very plain clothes to a match. This made showing which team you were rooting for difficult. In addition to that, it was frequently cold at those matches, so many people were already wearing a plain scarf. Along came colorful scarves. The first soccer scarves were striped with alternating team colors. Over time they have evolved to a point where they now display anything and everything. Many teams and even the supporters’ groups themselves have their own scarf designs.
Although new scarf designs usually appear annually, sometimes an event is big enough to justify a design of its own. For example, when a highly popular player retires (such as John Terry recently retiring from Chelsea…the other CFC), when a team wins a trophy (see the Hank Cup Scarf from 2016), or the USMNT comes to town (like when they played Jamaica in Chattanooga this past February), we commemorate such events with a special scarf.
Oftentimes scarves go beyond the basic idea of just showing which team you support. They are also used to display unity and togetherness. Typically, this is shown by a group of supporters holding their scarves overhead, with both hands being spread wide. They can also be spun over head in celebration, or tossed in the air in unison. If you've spent any time in Section 109, you've been a part of all of this.
So while it may, at first, seem strange to see so many scarves at a soccer match, over time you will begin to wonder how you ever survived without one of your own…or 27 of your own.
If you're a scarf collector, which is your favorite?
Contributed by TJ Moore. Featured photo courtesy of Drew Miller.