Since moving back to New England last year I have tried to become more engaged with the local soccer scene, beyond just the lowly Revs of MLS. In doing so I have researched the USL PDL squads, college teams, even down to the high school level of the sport. I also found myself doing more research into the Marksmen and the rich soccer history that has existed in New England for more than 150 years. As part of my research, perhaps compelled by the article on FRHsoccer or the video from "Off The Beaten Pitch", I took a trip to Fall River last month.
Lucky for me the in-laws live about 20 minutes away, but ironically, I had never been to or even through Fall River in all my years living in New England. Driving down Route 24 we merged onto Route 79 and drive along the eastern shore of Mount Hope Bay into the city. Fall River is truly a mill town, factory upon factory with facades of brick and granite, littered across the landscape mostly abandoned. For those along the main thoroughfares redevelopment has filled these former factories with tech companies, condominiums, and warehouses. Other buildings just sit there empty, like tombstones to in the grave yard of industries which once thrived in the area. These factories were what attracted those immigrants from distant lands to come to our shores and find work. In the case of Sam Mark's jobs brought the players he needed to build the Fall River Marksmen. Mr. Marks was a business, owning a major casino that catered to the thousands of factory workers; he knew a thing or two about a successful business. Instead of building a stadium in Fall River, he built Mark's Stadium less than 100 yards over the border in neighboring Tiverton, Rhode Island. Why you may ask? Massachusetts had "blue laws" that prevented alcohol sales on Sundays; Rhode Island did not, so the stadium could let the spirits flow for every match.