First Touch

The Beautiful Game – NYC Soccer TV

Catch this rare chance to see The Beautiful Game – one of the original soccer TV shows in the USA – and one of the first to cover MLS. It was made by some pub players (Barnstotonworth Rovers) and New York Soccer Supporters in the 1990s.

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Before There Was NBC, There Was The Beautiful Game Soccer TV Show

By Colin Reid

The Beautiful Game tv show

Like many great things, it started in a bar.

The Scratcher in New York’s East Village, was the post-game home for Barnstonworth Rovers, a Sunday league team made up of players from all over the globe, and even a few Americans. During an after-match drinking session, there was talk about doing our own soccer TV show. But, a good one.

Steve had the original idea. On Saturdays he was a beer-drinking Newcastle fan; on Sundays he was a tough Geordie defender; but during the week he ran the design department for a Madison Avenue agency. He had the creative vision and the talent to back it up.

Julian and Gary were editors on a daytime TV show; I think it was Ricki Lake, which was ‘huge’ back then. They were expat soccer fans too, and with access to a state-of-the-art editing room on weekends.

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Dave played for the Rovers and ran a weekly soccer fanzine (**), so he had connections. I wrote for the fanzine and also played for the Rovers.

We all disliked the desk-bound corporate style of most sports shows of the time, featuring un-ironic, pompous men in blazers. We wanted to do something a bit more samizdat – by the fans, for the fans – covering local soccer and maybe including the nascent MLS too.

I had Metrostars season tickets and while I didn’t sit in 101, I knew some of the Empire SC gang. So, Steve & I somehow ended up inside their drunk bus on a road trip to RFK stadium. Dave had been in touch with the Metrostars and we were promised press passes (***)… we were more than shocked when we turned up in DC and yes, they were there for us.

We ran around the stadium being cheeky, having fun, and trying to make supporters the stars of the show. Hope some of you recognize your younger selves.

The show went out on NYC public access TV (…kids, ask your parents) and we had a party in a bar to celebrate. For the next episodes we tried to polish up just a little bit, and brought in some extra reporting and recording talent to take us outside NYC, but ultimately we couldn’t sustain producing a quality TV show as a part-time thing, so three episodes is all you get.

It was fun. Enjoy.

(**) First Touch is now the longest running soccer weekly in America, as well as a website and mobile app.

(***) I recently found out the Metrostars media liaison was Bob Bradley’s brother. Back then I had never heard of Bob Bradley, but his brother was very helpful!

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