The phrase “living for the weekend” is a term that almost all of us can relate to, whether it’s partying with friends, spending time with loved ones or for many of those who participate in amateur sports. The world of Sunday league football to some of us may seem quite the hidden world, but for those who partake in it, to the point of it being a weekly ritual, it gives them a sense of purpose and many would be lost without it.
It’s this sense of belonging to a community of like-minded individuals that draws people in. Whether it be once or twice a week you meet, the bond you create becomes a brotherhood, an unbreakable tie, shared by a love for competing. During that time your together, nothing else matters, often the perfect escape from the wonders of everyday life.
Michael Morgan started exploring this world in 2017. Through the form of photography, he began capturing the realities of amateur football. Morgan entitled the documentary piece as Grassroots, which started in his home county of Norfolk – a primarily working-class area where football was part of everyday life. Empty changing rooms and portraits of players gave a behind the scenes perspective. The images questioned the uber masculine reputation that comes with amateur football, with Morgan’s subjects often giving off a genuine sense of vulnerability.
Recently the photographers focus turned towards the east end of London, primarily that of Hackney Marshes. This new collection of work concentrates on those that are marginalised within the sport. Ideas around diversity and equality take front seat, two subjects Morgan feels are “key themes that are particularly underrepresented in modern day football”.
With divisions in our society constantly teetering at breaking point, a close examination into these marginalised sections of the sports world seems vital. At professional level, players are submitted to racial abuse at a totally uncontrollable rate. This effects amateur level as well, if you’re from a minority and seeing this reported so often in the news, how would you feel walking out on the pitch for your local team.
Also, the working class, those who hold football closest to their hearts, are those that felt most alienated from society itself. So, perhaps the answer to bringing everyone closer to each other again, may well lie on the football pitch. It’s not often you get this insight into quite the enclosed section of the sports world. Many questions may well hold answers in ‘grassroots’.