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Lou Boyd (@LordLouCan) has been in New York for a couple of weeks now on a tour of American soccer (yes we said it) clubs and ale houses. After checking out New York Cosmos, he decides to give the much derided Franchise FC of the MLS a try – Frank Lampard’s New York City FC

The team from the capital – DC United – are in town, with a hot sticky traipse around the subway in Manhattan more crystal maze than the Warriors, I catch a glance of the first home fans. They catch a glance, squinting as they confer that the badge on my shirt is not the familiar and now defunct Chivas but the less so Brentford FC. One guy shrugs to his friend in admittance of not knowing who the hell I am. I console myself in the fact he didn’t mouth Brentwood into his friend’s ear.

The train swiftly fills with light blue, dark blue and orange. New York City FC (NYCFC) have branded themselves well in a way. The light blue – the franchise shade of the City Football Group is also of football’s answer to Brewster’s Millions, Manchester City. The orange & blue – a nod to NY’s flag, it’s alpha basketball team The Nicks and it’s beta baseball team The Mets. To top it all off they play their home games at Yankees Stadium. That is until their new stadium on Randall island – a sewage works floating between Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan –  is ready. All bases covered practically.


nyc crowd 2


















It strikes me that almost everyone in the carriage is wearing NYCFC lanyards. They can’t all be staff and they can’t all be VIPs and on closer inspection I find these are season tickets. In a city where building site security guards are dressed up like the Met police’s armed response unit & doormen like Sherlock Holmes, it seems everyone wants to lean towards uniformity and officialdom at every opportunity.

I pile off the train opposite Yankee Stadium and in to the ‘regular’s’ bar around the side and against the flow of the masses. I arrive at a cavernous hole which was really a run of three large bars joined together each looking barely half full despite hundreds packed inside. 90% if not more are wearing home colours but literally no one is talking football. Even with the team riding high at the top of the league.



The music – teeny dance pop – is nightclub loud. Tipsy 20-something fans pretend to dance to their friends amusements. The different groups talk about the impending bank holiday. The heat wave. A recent local murder. But nothing of the game.

Three fans start up ‘Let’s go City’ more as a last orders instruction to their friends to leave and it ends as we exit and queue up for full on airport style security.

In the line beside me is a guy in a New York Red Bulls top casually queuing and more bothered by me photographing him them any of the fans in light blue around him. Very different to the US tourist who entered Bramaer Rd in a Fulham ‘Dempsey’ shirt assuming that he would be welcomed in to the football family the same way.It really reinforced the way that American sport seems to lack the whole visible rivalry while in the ground.

Both in the bar and at the stadium, you are reminded that NYCFC are lodging with the Yankees. Low-paid teenagers dressed in full baseball garb proclaim they are here to help. The menus and price lists are awash with ‘Yankee specials’. The first thing in the stadium I can find that denotes NYCFC is an A5 board on a pillar that lists fans conduct.

I can feel my empathy for the likes of Brighton, Coventry & Rotherham grow. It must be pretty humbling at best – humiliating at worst – to have that away day feel added to your home games. I wonder if Fulham fans noticed when they inhabited Loftus Road?


Still giddy with the prospect of drinking constantly in the stands at football, I make my peace with the £9 in cash, 6% in strength pint I pick from the ale bar which was separate from the larger bar and another reminder of the quality – if not economy – of American service.

The pitch – rather than projecting out as a green sporting sea, looks uncomfortable in itself with its baseball dimensions giving the pitch love handles. The efforts to turn the dust of the infield in to luscious grass had left behind a botched boob job of a scar in the top corner. Patrick Vieira, the home team’s coach, diligently guards the expensive seats that are a good 30 feet from the byline. “Good luck West Ham” I would say if I hadn’t paid for part of their Olympic stadium Frankenstein job.



Before kick off, a line of full uniformed emergency firemen form a guard of honour for the man the Mayor of New York has just declared September 1st as his official day.

You’ve got it…Frank Lampard.

I smell the blood of an Englishman. A Brighton fan expat (he must be crying this morning after our win on the South Coast – Ed) has been watching the proceedings. And whilst being both of us being over 6 foot, we perch ourselves on the bleacher (a small solid metal row of seats) at the very back of the home ends’ ‘ultras’ section and take in the atmosphere.

The game kicks off and the top two tiers are as empty as Wembley with the visit of Luxembourg or Stadium MK with the visit of … well anyone. I’m gobsmacked as to how many more couples and mixed sex groups in their 20s there are at the game with the crowd having more of a University frat party vibe. The home team dominate but the crowd seem impatient – which could explain the number of very sexually aggressive & casually homophobic remarks flying around from oversized teens in baseball caps & shorts. The songs begun and stay faithful to the Great American (soccer) songbook of the same six songs I heard the night before at the Cosmos.

nyc match


















I hoped for some DC baiting particularly during election season or some spite towards the other NY clubs especially Red Bull, but the terrace wit was confined to occasional ‘you suck’ aimed at opposition players taking corners (I saw the same when I went to see a pre-Beckham LA Galaxy play New England revolution and when a pre-F*lham move Clint Dempsey approached the infamous LA Riot Squad, they chanted in unison “Dempsey you suck”. If I had known he was off to F*lham, I would have joined in – Ed).

A home fan assures me that the police in the ground – of whom there are dozens – may not bat an eyelid at a steroid addled lad loudly proclaiming ‘he’d smash that ass’ at a woman stood with her husband five feet away but they do not like potty mouths. I refer back to the rule banner. It appears the second rule of football club is “mistreatment of visiting teams or guests, including verbal harassment, profanity or intimidating behaviour”.

nycfc code of conduct


















Frankie, I’ve a feeling we’re not in London anymore.

Players do their best to navigate what the Yankees have left for them. Promising runs down the infield descend into little House on the Prairie opening credit style trots through badly cut up pitch. For some reason I feel oddly at home for a moment.

Against the run of play – probably both in life in general and in football – DC United’s former Charlton substitute Lloyd Sam picks up on a loose ball and leaves his marker, Andrea Pirlo, for dead to open the scoring. The celebration in front of the home fans does raise some ire at last.

I get talking to some home fans who explain they are all Albanian Americans and we shake hands over talk of the Euros and Kosovo getting a team. I ask them as innocently as possible, “Who did you support before this?” They answer straight and without shame, “Red Bulls, but they’re in Jersey, who wants to go there?”

My mind sweeps to anyone – but in particular poor Brighton fans giving up London-on-sea to trek to Gillingham for home games. Or the nomadic Wombles where some fans did defect to Milton Keynes to continue seeing a version of ‘their team’.

The idea of switching colours every decade or so seems like it is completely accepted in all US sports and now football is no different. Teams with incredibly strong fan bases & geographical links have just upped sticks at the opening of a wallet. The Dodgers, Raiders, Colts and very soon the natural pairing of everyone’s favourite Bond villain chairman – Vincent Tan alongside Magic Johnson – will lead Los Angeles FC into the MLS to spark a rivalry with Steven Gerrard & Ashley Cole’s Galaxy.

Our chat ends as a group of home fans with Polish football hoodies wrapped around their home shirts throw beer at another group of home fans with Brazil scarfs wrapped over their home shirts. The crowd is restless & tetchy. This is not the Hollywood ending the Mayor planned for Frank Lampard. But eventually, inevitably it is. Four goals in the last ten minutes included a last minute away equaliser but was then topped off by a 95th minute winner from Lampard.

The crowd go wild, Lampard punches the air and furiously kisses the badge whilst Pirlo & Villa nearly break in to the sort of trot you make when you think it’s your bus coming but realise it isn’t.

The fans pile out again to talk of everything apart from the game. I mop my brow with the XL T-shirt handed out to all fans informing us that the fire department supports NYFC.

Unbeknown to them, NYCFC have reminded me what I find frustrating in ‘marquee’ football. It makes me grateful for what I have at home and wary of the assumption ‘if you build it they will come’ as American fans roll around in 1/3 full stadia. In a country with the most efficient (if not sometimes cheesy) marketing in the world, it’s even a gamble over here with no other teams in the city. Having watched two football matches in 24 hours – one on an American football pitch and the other on a baseball pitch –  I sincerely hope the Bees can also make sure our pitch works for us whoever we share with.

The reality is American ‘soccer’ is top quality testimonial football squeezed into the major league template. Like a greatest hits tour for fans of long past it mega-star band members. I try to imagine how Lampard really feels. And Pirlo. And Villa.

Most likely they feel just like another Frankie – who also made a packet out of NYC – once sang.

‘You make me feel so young again’.

Lou Boyd