Three sided football, a game of three thirds

Reds vs Yellows vs Blues - Three sided football

Reds vs Yellows vs Blues – Three sided football Pic:D3FC

“Three-sided football? No seriously, three-sided football? Oh, you mean three-a-side matches. What, no? Three teams playing at once? Let me Google it…”

That was the conversation repeated throughout the office when the subject of a single football match, played between three teams, with three goals, on a hexagonal pitch came up today. Oh, and the team that concedes the fewest number of goals wins.

A lot of time was spent researching the latest incarnation of the beautiful game.

Mark Dyson is a co-founder of D3FC (Deptford Three-sided Football Club) and an energetic supporter of three-sided football. He enthusiastically explained the thought behind the concept, and the rise in popularity of the new take on a well-practiced sport.

“Once you actually play, it’s not as hard as you think…” Dyson cheerfully explains. Just from the brief conversation we had, it’s clear he’s a man who loves his three-sided football. His energy and enthusiasm knows no bounds; whether it’s waxing lyrical about the philosophical and scientific thinking behind the game (more of that later) or just explaining the rules to baffled journalists and passers-by alike.

“During a game you form tactical alliances with the opposition, and you’re trying to work out whether they’re suddenly going to betray you. I guess it sort of reflects real life in a lot of ways”, Dyson rapidly recalls.

A brief historical interval, or half time if you will, is probably in order.

Three-sided football is an idea conceived by the Danish situationist artist and philosopher Asger Jorn as way to demonstrate his own theory of trialectics. D3FC’s blog helpfully explains this to be: “A trinitarian supercession of the binary dialectic of classical Marxian dogma – and that of detournement – the situationist practice of extrapropriation of dominant norms through antagonistic couterposition.” Heavy stuff, and Jorn never actually played the game himself. Put simply, the aim is to simultaneously ally with and combat the opposition at the same time, defending friends one moment and then attacking them the next.

Back out for the second half then, although of course in three-sided football, it’s a game of three thirds…

Dyson is keen to describe his own history with the game. He explains: “I’ve been interested in it for many years. In fact I was lucky enough to play in the very first three-sided football match in Glasgow in 1994.”

After a number of years had passed, Dyson and some of his friends, decided to set up a three-sided football club in, “the golden triangle of Deptford, New Cross and Brockley.”

Participation levels at the club are growing and the sport itself is becoming increasingly popular thanks to exposure from both national TV features and the Sunday strollers who may catch a glimpse of a match as they walk by D3FC’s hexagonal home ground in Fordham Park.

“We play every first Sunday of the month, with six teams that play together regularly. It’s growing quickly and goes from strength to strength. We’ve had little bits of press and have been taking part in things like the Deptford X games which ran in parallel with the Olympic Games in 2012 and it picked up a lot after people saw that. After the BBC covered it, we got a whole extra team and it’s grown really organically.”

With three teams on the pitch in every match, getting more teams to compete was vital to the formation of the London league and the mathematical complexities that come with a three-sided competition.

As Dyson describes says: “The aim was to create a London league that required six teams. One game is played in Deptford and one in North London. We’ll play ten times so that every permutation will work out.”

Forget a game of two halves. Three-sided football is philosophical, scientific and sounds terrifically exciting. Get yourself down to Fordham Park on the first Sunday of the month to see Dyson and his lads perform three times the footballing action.

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