theprintspace are very happy to be showcasing Chris Baker’s fantastic project, Sunday Football at our gallery in the heart of Shoreditch, London between the 2nd-12th September. Chris takes us on a unique and comical journey through the legendary Hackney Marshes, exploring one of the UK’s most loved pastimes - Sunday league football.
Dubbed the ‘spiritual home of Sunday League Football’, the Hackney Marshes are where internationally famous footballers such as Bobby Moore, David Beckham and Ian Wright once started out; playing on the very same pitches as the amateur footballers in this new photobook published by Hoxton Mini Press.
“Sunday Football is my love letter to the game that consumed me for so many years. The book is a visual celebration of the beloved game at amateur level. An ode to those players that turn up late, hungover and discussing last night’s conquest.” Chris Baker
In 1946, the Hackney and Leyton Sunday League was formed, with hundreds of pitches being built on the foundations of rubble from the Blitz. Within ten years, football on the marshes was so popular it had become London’s biggest sporting ground. Up to 2000 players would turn up on a Sunday morning, needing to book one of the 108 pitches up to ten months in advance. Hackney Marshes had begun it’s ascendancy into footballing history. Seventy years on, the Hackney Marshes now provide over 80 pitches where more than 50 games of football are played each week from September until April, come rain or shine.
Photographer Chris Baker, a born and bread Londoner and avid fan of the game, decided to focus his attention on the drama that unfolds every Sunday on the Hackney Marshes: the passion, the comradery, the arguments, the sweat and tears, the injuries and fights, the cigarettes at half time and the painful struggle of playing with a raging hangover. He provides us with a unique and entertaining view of the game that is buried right at the core of British culture and sits within the hearts and memories of thousands of amateurs with their childhood aspirations and dreams of ‘making it’.
Baker’s photographs capture the true passion of the players of this ‘beautiful game’, and are a far cry from the polished and often quite clichéd images that we traditionally see gracing the back pages of our national newspapers. Accompanying the images are quotes and anecdotes heard along the sidelines from the players and referees, creating a narrative that intertwines and compliments the vibrant, comical images.
“Can you all just shut up?! Listen, there are too many people out there with egos wanting to be the leading goal scorer, that’s fucking bollocks. We won’t win like that, we’ll only win if we play like a unit”
“My wife doesn’t get it; this is where I come to see my mates.”
Printed on our semi-gloss and metallic paper stocks and presented using a combination of Aluminium mounting and our hand-made frames, these large and beautiful images from Chris Baker’s project are on show until 12th September, so join us to experience this warm and insightful documentation of one of the UK’s most popular pastimes and a right of passage for so many people.