A rare moment of collectivity in an increasingly alienated city. 

Since 1893 Hackney Marshes has been a public area for recreation and protected from urban development. However, in the years leading up to this, the area had been under threat from increasing demand for land for private housing and local industry. Following a period of serious dispute between landowners and groups lobbying for the area’s preservation, London County Council paid £70,000 for the rights and landowner’s interests. The Marshes were formally dedicated in 1894.

At the same time the men from Clapton Community College used the nearest green space to play football in order to keep fit over the winter. This was the beginnings of Clapton Orient FC or, as it is now called, Leyton Orient FC. Leyton Orient has since moved from these fields to a more suitable residence for a professional football team but, on most Sundays, the air above these muddy marshes is filled with the condensed breath of 100 or more football teams running, kicking, sliding and shouting.

Home to the Hackney and Leyton Sunday Football League, the Marshes have been getting churned up by the studs of East London football boots since 1946 and have 88 full size football pitches covering almost every inch of green grass. Against the backdrop of London’s hyper-developed and socially-cleansed Olympic East End, it is obvious that Hackney Marshes are becoming more and more precious.