Blues in the Boroughs
#ALLINCFC Mon 3 Aug 2015
From Brooklyn to the Bronx, every weekend thousands of New Yorkers wake up and march to pubs in the early morning hours to support the Blues.
As Chelsea moved into the city as part of our pre-season tour of North America recently, we searched for and followed the ways in which the club's supporters demonstrate their passion in New York City — a hub of America's emerging, evolving football culture.
These are the stories of some Chelsea’s New York City-based supporters…
Traversing the East River - 7am
Living outside of Manhattan is often a struggle. But when you can punch through traffic, your commute into the city is met with open lanes and a summer breeze. Whether you’re weaving through taxis on the Brooklyn Bridge or blasting down Broadway on your way to the park, the bike offers a freedom you can’t find within the constraints of the subway. Plus, you don’t have to deal with that double Metrocard swipe.
The Situation: Whether it’s a trip to a corner pub or a jaunt up north, doors open when it’s just you and the road. But no matter where the path takes you, you’ll always find a willing ear when you talk football, even Stateside.
The Blue: Dominic — Much like the weekend mornings he spends with his club, Dominic’s motorcycle is how he escapes from New York’s commotion. The city may not ever sleep, but Dominic is still able to hit the streets before it wakes up. Dominic’s ride is not just his means of transportation, it’s how he connects with himself in a city filled with eight million people.
Union Square - Manhattan - 9am
The most iconic New York City experience occurs where the city isn't even visible. It takes place underground, on summer days when the entire city—rich and poor, old and young, native and new New Yorker — jog down weary concrete steps into the hustle and bustle of the city’s underground system. Below ground, walls break down as the city comes together to form a singular entity before diffusing to locations and cultures across the boroughs and neighbourhoods of New York.
The Blue: James — A singer and songwriter, his lyrics carry a rhythm that trails his steps from the sidewalk to the terraces.
'I was studying abroad when I fell in love with it [football],' he explains. 'It’s a cultural thing; the sort of craze an entire country gets behind, and something that I wanted to experience first-hand. Those first strides were uncharted, but stepping inside Stamford Bridge made all the difference. From that first moment you feel the rhythm and and the passion from the supporters cascade across the entire stadium and you can’t help but be drawn in.'
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn - 2pm
Break days don’t exist when you’re working towards a goal. Your goal is one you can only meet with steady sacrifice. As the uneven concrete swelters in the summer sun, body aching with each extra stride, just remember you’re doing this for yourself and not anyone else.
The Situation: Brownstone after brownstone, the city opens up with each passing block, manifesting the diversity of the city’s population and neighbourhoods. But no matter where that run takes you, you’ll always be a New Yorker.
The Blue: Adia — When Adia speaks up, it’s for good reason. She’s fashionable, but also leaves space for fandom, from football to super heroes. Running is her release as her presence and vibrant blue emanate across her surroundings.
Bedstuy, Brooklyn - 3pm
When you cycle in New York City or Brooklyn, you bike everywhere. Across sidewalks, through parks and in the streets and avenues of one of the world’s most heavily trafficked cities. To first-timers, the cityscape can seem to meld into a single being, with each city block replicating the next. But to long-time residents, local styles can be read in every shop window and doorstep across the city’s multitude of neighborhoods.
The Situation: It seems irreconcilable, but it’s the distinct local flavours that create a unifying, city-wide culture that connects the farthest flung borough to the the neighbourhoods in the heart of the city.
The Blue: Joshua — A native New Yorker, Joshua is just as vocal outside the stadium as he is in the stands. Growing up across the city, he was exposed to every culture imaginable. Football is a way to express himself, but also to understand the people around him. He knows that he is one of many, but sees this only as a greater opportunity to be heard rather than a reason to stay silent. Being part of something larger is part of what allows him to be himself.
Wall Street, Manhattan - 5pm
The Situation: It isn’t easy to represent your club on match days when you’re working in the world’s financial epicenter. Surrounded by stark skyscrapers and the persistent buzz of day traders and analysts, you have to get creative with your support.
The Blue: Matt — To many, football’s ability to connect one person with the notion of shared, universal experience that transcends borders and boundaries is its greatest appeal. The son of a trader, Matt’s interests in football extend beyond the final whistle, to the ways in which the global business of the game connects supporters across the world. To Matt, nothing is more welcome on a Saturday morning than seeing a goal created by Spaniards, Brazilians, Ivorians, and Serbians working together seamlessly.
'I’ve always been passionate about the club, but it’s the place of the sport in a global context that really interests me right now,' he says. 'It’s not just that football breaks down walls, but that it gives all of us a common ground with people from across the globe.'
Lindsay Park, Bushwick - 7pm
The local park is filled with young talent searching for a game. This isn’t football, but sport is sport in a city enveloped by skyscrapers where field space comes at a high cost. Sport is the outlet — and it doesn’t matter which one.
The Situation: At the end of the day, broken ankles are broken ankles, whether it comes from a crossover or a step over. When your man’s on the ground, jaw open as you drive past him, make sure to look back and kiss the badge.
The Blue: Antonio — Some say that confidence is a fault, but when you can back it up on the court, it’s not arrogance. If you’re ever in the city, you can find Antonio playing full-court with friends.