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Most football supporters hate them but these Chelsea fans can make £7,500 in 3 hours selling half-and-half scarves outside Stamford Bridge


When a group of drunk Crystal Palace fans approached Bob Holliday and Paul Eve’s Chelsea FC merchandise stand the pair feared the worst. Emerging from the pub, one of them made a beeline for the half-and-half scarves – the controversial souvenir which features both teams’ names and colours on a single strip of fabric.

“I’ll take two of those,” said the Palace supporter, handing over £20 and then, alarmingly, pulling out a knife. Any safety fears were short-lived, however, as it quickly became clear the weapon wasn’t meant for them, he was after the scarves.

Taking the blade through the middle of the fabric, the fan was left with four pieces of separated Chelsea and Palace scarves. “You can take that sh*t back,” he said, tossing the blue and white Chelsea halves at Bob and Paul. The Crystal Palace scarf pieces were then slid onto his arms and raised aloft, much to the enjoyment of his friends.

READ MORE: Worst behaved football fans in London revealed by the Met Police



Football fan Jack Harris poses with a half-and-half scarf outside Stamford Bridge

Knife-related incidents with merchandise might be rare, but it’s far from the first time a supporter has shown their disgust for half-and-half scarves. For those who consider themselves proper football fans it’s almost a point of principle to show how much you hate them.

So why have they become such a staple of the product line of unofficial vendors outside London’s many football grounds? Well, MyLondon decided to find out and, in the process, may just have stumbled across their origin.

‘We were the first’



Bob Holliday can sell hundreds of the scarves at big games

Although Bob admitted to having his reservations about them, he believes it might have been him that created the half-and-half monster. The lifelong Chelsea fan has always traded in merch, to the extent that he was known as ‘Bob-the-T-shirt’ amongst fellow Blues. About nine years ago he joined forces with Paul, a former ticket tout who’s been selling outside the football ground for 30 years. Their co-owned stand has a plumb spot on the corner of Fulham Broadway station, impossible to miss when walking to Stamford Bridge.

Bob said he got the idea for a half-and-half scarf in November of 1994. He’d travelled to watch Chelsea in the Cup Winners’ Cup against Austria Vienna and, while there was little to remember about the unremarkable 1-1 draw, on the way to the stadium something caught his eye: a scarf with Chelsea colours on one side and Austria Vienna’s on the other.

He’d never seen one in the UK, which made him think, could there be a market for similar items in London? So he decided to give it a go. When he told his supplier what he wanted they thought he was mad. “Do you really think anyone is going to buy them?” he was asked.

At first, the half-and-half scarves Bob had made related to teams who Chelsea have somewhat controversial connections to. “The first one I had made was a Chelsea and Glasgow Rangers scarf,” he said. The clubs have a longstanding ‘friendship’ which, in some cases, relates to shared sympathies for political causes like unionism in Northern Ireland. The other early half-and-half Chelsea scarf Bob produced was with Lazio, another club with historic and sometimes contentious links to Chelsea, their controversial connection being around the Far Right element of the two fanbases.

‘Selling 500 scarves at big games’

The matchday versions took off about 15 years ago, Bob explained, and have been growing in popularity ever since. They might have a negative reputation amongst hardcore fans, but sales amongst children and tourists are through the roof.

“At the Real Madrid Champions League game we sold 500 before 7pm [an hour before kick off],” said Paul. “For games against the big teams we sell between 300 and 500, against the smaller teams we do 100 to 150.” Prices for the most prestigious events are higher and takings can be as high as £7,500 for items that don’t cost much to produce.

There is a risk if you get the numbers wrong, however. The half-and-half scarves have the date printed and competition on them, so they can’t be recycled for a future game between the sides. Occasionally they sell a previous game’s scarf the next weekend, but not in high numbers.

When MyLondon asked what they did with the stock that isn’t bought Bob gestured behind their stall. “You see there,” he said, “there’s a bin.” Bob added that, with his and Paul’s experience, they very rarely get the numbers wrong and over-order.



Football fans Lara (left), Sally (centre) and Arthur Brady (right) pose with a half-and-half scarf outside Stamford Bridge

At the moment, because of the government restrictions relating to the club’s previous owner Roman Abramovich, the number of fans at the games is limited. So the pair have cut their stock accordingly to around 50 half-and-half scarves.

The steady stream of buyers MyLondon speaks to outside Stamford Bridge, before the game against Wolverhampton Wanderers, are predominantly families. Wolves fan Arthur Brady wanted a souvenir for his first game, as did his sister, who doesn’t follow a team and has done her hair with the two teams’ colours, matching the family memento of the day. 

Ryan Penny, from Salisbury, on the other hand is a collector with a room at home filled with half-and-half scarves. “I get one for every game I go to,” he told us, although his favourites are “any one with Chelsea on them”.

Over in South London, however, the attitude to these items is very different.

‘It might be a bit tribal, but that’s football’



Football fan Julian Tucker poses outside Selhurst Park where half-and-half scarves were in short supply

Several laps of Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park stadium were required before MyLondon was able to locate a half-and-half scarf seller. There is a plentiful supply of people flogging fanzines, but the contrast to well-stocked unofficial merchandise stands that line the route from Fulham Broadway station to Stamford Bridge is pronounced.

Julian Tucker, one of the fanzine sellers outside Selhurst Park, explained why he believed there was a scarcity of half-and-half scarves compared to at Chelsea games. “They’re not a proper club,” he said with a wry smile.

When MyLondon responds that lots of children buy them he pointed out a family all wearing Palace shirts and scarves. “That’s what it’s about,” Julian continued. “Kids in their colours. They wear theirs, we wear ours. It might sound a bit tribal, but that’s football.”

The 25-year season ticket holder and founding investor in the Palace for Life Foundation charity enthuses about the links between the club and the community. When he sees someone wearing an ‘event scarf’ one thing springs to mind; “football tourist”. 

But even some of the literal football tourists MyLondon finds at Selhurst Park appear to take a withering view of the concept. A group of American visitors to the South London stadium wearing their Atlanta United replica shirts begin quizzing the solitary half-and-half salesman outside the ground.

“If you support Crystal Palace why would you want Watford on it? And if you support Watford why would you want Crystal Palace?” a woman in the group asked the salesman who shrugged.

“It’s kind of a knock-off isn’t it?” she added. Eventually, the tourist is led away by her husband, who reassured the flustered vendor he “could see what he was trying to do”.

The seller, who didn’t want to be named or pictured and at one point told MyLondon’s reporter he “looked like a copper making notes,” runs a very different operation to the Stamford Bridge salesmen. He’s chooses to flog half-and-half scarves outside Selhurst Park because there’s less competition and he takes less risk.

Only buying 30 scarves a time, the vendor makes sure he can reuse the ones he doesn’t sell the following year. “I don’t get the date on them,” he said with a grin, adding, “but I’ve got to get rid of these because Watford are going down.”



A seller with unsold half-and-half scarves outside Selhurst Park

It’s a tough crowd to sell to, though. Passing Palace fans make comments like “half-and-halfs, I’d rather die” or shake their heads in disgust. When he finally makes a sale, to a pair of Swedish tourists, it’s for a knockdown price and, as kick-off approaches, the bundle of scarves draped over his arm suggested he’d be left praying for a Watford vs Palace cup draw next season. Two hours later the Hornets’ relegation was confirmed.

There might be a more eager customer base in West London for the half-and-half scarf, but there’s no doubt they are here to stay. People like to have mementos of the big sporting moments that they’ve been to.

For some the idea of wearing a neutral item to a game they feel tribal about will always be unthinkable. But you have to wonder, if Crystal Palace qualified for the Champions League and played Real Madrid would a few of those half-and-half haters swallow their pride and buy one for their kid? They just might.

What’s happened to football hooliganism post-pandemic? Contact zak.garnerpurkis@reachplc.com with your stories.





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