Turns out New York is not only great for getting your mum a Christmas present to say sorry for forgetting to get one for her birthday, but it’s also class for playing football.
We wrote about just that in our Issue 19 cover story, as we went in search of the grassroots culture of the world’s cultural capital. We found it, which is good. Always handy when that happens.
On our travels, we played at a few of the city’s finest spots, and we asked some of our NYC mates what their favourites were, to compile a list of the best places to play when you’re out there.
So yeah, bring your astros next time...
SARA D. ROOSEVELT PARK
“Limited square footage in a possibly unsanitary environment, infused with an undeniable, infectious energy? Sara D. (on Grand Street, of course) is NYC manifested as a football pitch. On paper, maybe it may be one of the worst pitches in the city, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Plus if we played on a nice pitch, what would we blame our clunky first touch on?” — Jake Snowden of Bowery FC
“Not only is Pier 5 one of the only fields I've played on that isn't desperately in need of repairs, it has one of the best views in all of the city, let alone from a soccer field. I'd bribe every ref in the city to have all my games at sundown there. The mix of people you get there is brilliant: like, my extremely recc league plays next to Brookhattan on Thursdays. Then you have the hungover Sunday league. You have your hardcore Tuesday league. And there’s sprawling pick-up matches every evening that last hours. Kids are running training drills next to games where people are at each other's throats. You have absolutely something for everyone down there.” — Gabby Kirschner
“Pier 40 is one of the most unique footballing experiences you’ll get in NYC. The view, the rooftop, the plethora of pitches, plus the fact that on any random day you might get some absolute ballers makes it a special special spot. It’s New York through and through.” — Aaron West
EAST RIVER PARK
“It’s one of the most recently renovated fields around the city and still has perfect, unblemished synthetic turf which you don’t get very often or for very long around the city. I used to play pickup there every Saturday morning, even at its shabbiest: divots, craters, wild seams. One morning we arrived to play to find the turf flipped in parts like a cheap area rug. As it turns out, the NYPD had landed their helicopter on it in the overnight on suspicion that there was a body in the river. I like to say you haven’t really played in this city until you’ve experienced one of these very NYC oddities.” — Christine Cupo
CHERRY STREET (aka Murry Bergtraum Softball Field)
“In New York City, football pitches are a lot like apartments in that you’ll eventually find one very specific thing you hate about it and move elsewhere. It’s too far from public transportation, the turf has somehow warped and petrified, there are dirt patches no baseball team asked for, or the amenities haven’t been attended to since Rudy Giuliani was just an embarrassing scumbag at the state level.
“Murry Bergtraum Softball Field is no different, with two corners of the pitch chopped off by the surrounding running track. But of all the annoying pitch nuances in the city, this one seems to affect the game the least. “Cherry Street,” as it’s affectionately known among the downtown football community, is home to the Bowery Premier League, the most competitive 7-a-side in the city. And despite slightly shorter corners on one side, being nestled next to the Manhattan Bridge protects the field from the East River winds, and provides a backdrop so impossibly New York you might get caught out dreaming up Instagram captions.” – Lucas Shanks of Tens Club