Sharpies were the terror teen cast of a Richard Allen novel that never was. Although largely synonymous with the early-to-mid 1970s, reports of their violent clashes with rival gangs of Mods are documented as early as 1966. Bored, working-class, suburban kids, their teenage rampage began in Melbourne, Australia, but soon there were Sharpie gangs forming in Sydney, Perth and beyond. For a while they were the untouchables, ruling dances, discos and public transport with their fists.
Sharpies were fiercely territorial and divided into different chapters according to location. They would often wage aggressive wars within their tightly delineated sub-gangs, although Mods always remained their arch-enemy. Sharpies were the scourge of the railways. Although they would seldom attack members of the general public, if you gave them a second look you’d be lucky to escape with your wallet intact. Violence was their world, but always with a strict moral code. Sharpie boys and girls wore similar uniforms: a slim-fitting, ribbed and collared cardigan called a Conny, T-shirts, tight jeans (Lee or Levis) and big platform shoes. Girls’ shoes had 100% cork heels. Boys’ shoes were often two-coloured. Hair was worn short or shaved with long wisps at the back, influenced by the British ska, mod and skinhead subcultures.