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“You don’t understand!” Dimaggio aka “Madge” exclaims, eyes wide for emphasis. “I chased him down the street,” referencing the recruitment of his co-host, “I was like, ‘yo do this football podcast with me!’”

Garden Parties Football Club was born in North Philly, the child of passion and community. A precious stone created by friendship and commitment; not only to club, country, or the game but to each other. The Club’s motto, “Keep the Faith”, is a rallying cry for long-suffering football romantics, the 2nd Street misfits, and Center City stragglers renting bar stools since morning. An affirmation for those who enjoy their football shoulder-to-shoulder with their opposite number. All despite NFL and NCAA jeers or a match muted in favour of baseball. GPFC fuses old and new, uniting the beer-sponsor-and-baggy-shirt set and joystick wunderkinder alike. If they can stand the banter, Garden Parties welcomes them all with open arms.

In the beginning, the mission was simple. “I just want someone to buy me a beer for talking s**t about football, after that I’m good,” says Madge. The podcast is the brainchild of the lifelong Manchester United supporter and former youth player. GPFC gained ranks after a chance meeting with co-host Naj in 2017. Quietly supporting Manchester City since the transfers of some childhood heroes in the 1990s, Madge figured his recruit could at least take a joke. The addition of show producer, friend, and collaborator Swendz, gave the project legs.

Over the next year, they played with the formula. Pre-show beer-and-hoagie rituals created space to build chemistry and consistency. Powered by Szechuan take-out and an aperitif or two, a pilot season took shape. They got by with a little help from talented friends. One of them, music producer Wes Manchild conjured up an intro tune with a decidedly Brazilian feel. Former teammates and neighbours were enlisted for tactical changes.


What else can be said about a global pandemic? Shared experience is powerful, good or bad, football fans know this. The Garden Parties crew reflects on the hard times. “COVID gave us an opportunity to lock in,” recalls Naj. “With so much sadness, stress and anxiety, we went back to what we loved, talking football.” They kept tinkering with the formula, taking a cue from their day jobs and going virtual. Like many, they found their silver lining in each other; in talking football and the community they are building. Soon, one weekly show became two, and plans to design a stand-alone football shirt slowly came to fruition.

“We’re a fashion podcast anyway” - Madge

It hit him like a lightning bolt while browsing Icarus Football’s collection of Philly neighbourhood football shirts. “There was no Kensington shirt yet,” Madge says matter of factly, “we’re based in Kensington, so we just designed it ourselves”. The team approached Icarus Football owner Robbie Smukler with the design, their take on a Bundesliga classic. Match made in Heaven.

Established in Philadelphia in 2017, by Robbie Smukler, Icarus’ mission is to treat every club like outfitters treat the world’s biggest clubs. “We were already impressed by Robbie’s work,” says Naj, “being Philly-based made it a no-brainer.”

The club continued to grow, partnering with forward-thinking streetwear retailer, P’s&Q’s, who stocked the shirt. Football shirts are a Garden Parties love language. Close work with shop Creative Director (and Gooner) Rick Cao, helped GPFC sprinkle the streetwear market with some of that love. Friends Ian and Torthel lent their talents to the marketing campaign. Intended for a 12 AM online release and a 12 PM in-store release, the shirt sold out online by morning. No better proof that the new boys are studs than the newest Nick. After compiling Mantém A Fé, a mixtape project released in collaboration with Philadelphia-based Paratodo, Nick joined the on-air crew at the start of the ‘21-’22 season.

Amsterdam, Rio, Rome, Manchester...Philly? Yeah okay, it’s very likely no one visualizes Broad Street when they speak of great football cities. If Garden Parties is any proof, it’s highly likely Philadelphians don’t care, they’re too busy changing the narrative, tapping into the heart and soul of the game on their own terms. A sanctuary city with a long history of immigration, its culture often lies overlooked. Football culture is no different, ask these guys. They can attest to over 20 years of random pick-ups, co-ed beer leagues, rec center futsal sessions, and midnight leagues. Not to mention CASA League, one of the most robust amateur leagues in the US and the Penn Park pick-up scene.


GPFC may be the epitome of thinking globally and acting locally. Wanting to spread the gospel, they started at home. Talking about football together connected them to the wider world. Belief has been key. Above all “Keep the Faith” is a reminder to believe in one’s ability. The team cites the belief in themselves as instrumental. “Rick from Ps & Qs asked if we wanted to meet with Diadora,” Naj recalls with a grin. “George Weah. Blue Diadora Brasils. First boots I ever wanted.” The answer was obvious. This budding romance between Diadora, a brand with legitimate football heritage, and GPFC will continue to grow and the wider culture of the beautiful game will be the beneficiary.

Philadelphia is a potential site for the 2026 World Cup. For the Garden Parties visionaries, the future includes World Cup football in Philadelphia, academy systems that privilege city area codes, and mind-blowing takes on football shirts. The banter is a prerequisite. The time is now for GPFC, but it doesn’t seem to phase them. After all, they’re just having a ball with each other. “We just like talking football, and occasionally making some cool s**t,” says Madge, “so we’ll just carry on doing that.”

Make no mistake, the self-proclaimed idea guys are relishing the opportunity to push the message on home turf.

© DARBY Magazine 2023