Hackney Marshes was reclaimed after the area was razed to the ground during the Second World War and ever since has been used as a recreation ground for music events, socialising and, most famously of all, sport.
Teams and individuals meet daily on the Marshes to indulge in all kinds of sports from hockey to kite flying. Whether it's a serious game or just a knockabout there is always something going on and always someone showing off some serious skills. Run by the local council, Hackney Marshes is one of the most well known outdoor sporting facilities in London, if not the UK.
Known as a football Mecca to some, Hackney Marshes has an incredible 87 full size pitches, which is the largest concentration of football pitches in the whole of Europe. Even so, if you visit on a Sunday don't expect to get a game, over one hundred matches are played here every Sunday during the season by both male and female teams.
There are so many Sunday League teams, and indeed leagues to fit them all in to, that anyone interested in getting muddy has the pick of the bunch (we're not even going to start naming all the teams that play here but five-a-side, under 21s, women and kids all play here as well as your twenty something lads letting off steam after a hard week at work). So whoever you are and whatever your level of skill get down there and ask around - you're bound to get a game with someone!
Hockey and rugby are also popular, with facilities for both if football just sounds like a big girl's blouse game to you and you want to get really bruised of a weekend. Again, many teams play matches and practice here for both sports, seriously and just for fun so whatever level you are at the best thing you can do is go along and check out the competition. And if it all looks a bit rough and tumble, you may want to turn your attentions to the games of cricket going on in other parts of the ground.
Finally, to some it may not be a sport but to others, kite flying is as important as a match between England and France and when the weather is just right flyers turn out in force to catch some wind or, for the more extreme experience, parakart their way around the place. Every year also sees the East London Kite Festival take over Hackney Marshes with demos, stalls and competitions.
But for a bit of contemporary history – Hackney Marshes were immortalised in the Nike advert which used Blur’s “Parklife” as the soundtrack!
For a map – please visit: http://www.leevalleypark.org.uk/en/maps/pdfs/leevalley9.pdf