The English Game is a new period drama series on Netflix which was created by Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes. The series is based on true events and tells the story of how football came to be the most-played sport across the world. The drama is based about a pivotal moment in history – the Darwen FC Cup Final in 1883.
The English game follows two main characters, Arthur Kinnaird (played by Edward Holcroft) and Scot Fergus “Fergie” Suter (Kevin Guthrie).
The six-part series is based on true events but creator Julian Fellowes executed some creative licence to help intensify the drama.
In The English Game, one of the main characters Jimmy Love (James Harkness) ends up getting injured during a game and has to give up football ahead of the FA cup final.
But in real life Love only played for Darwen until 1879 and it is not known exactly what happened to him after this.
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The 1883 final was between Blackburn Olympic and Old Etonians at the Kennington Oval in south London, with Blackburn winning 2-1 after extra time.
The Blackburn goals were scored by James Costley, a forward, and Arthur Matthews, with the Old Etonians goal coming from Harry Goodhart, centre-forward.
This match is one of the most famous in history as it was the first time in an FA Cup final a working-class team had triumphed over a team playing the public school tactics.
The working-class played what is known as the combination game, which means passing the ball, using teamwork and practicing dribbling skills.
On the other hand, the public school tactics were rushing and scrimmages, which means using long kicks to get the ball down the other side of the field.
More than 8,000 people flocked to the Kennington Oval to watch the highly-anticipated final, during which Goodhart had scored the first goal by half-time.
Blackburn Olympic, who were considered to be the fitter of the two teams, found the strength to fight back in the second half with Matthews levelling the playing field.
The players were unable to score the winning goal in the allocated time so extra time had to be played, making the game much more intense for spectators.
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After 17 minutes of extra time, Costley managed to get the ball past the goalkeeper, making the Blackburn team the first northern team to win the FA Cup.
The winning team wore stripes of navy blue and white, whereas the Old Etonians wore an all-white kit with black socks.
A copy of the post-match report said: “Play in the second half was evenly balanced and after twenty minutes had elapsed, a grand effort on the part of Olympic ended with Matthews putting a well-directed shot beyond the reach of Rawlinson for the equalizer.
“Dunn, the best Etonian forward, was hurt at this point and had to retire from the field — a great loss to his side.
“Olympic began to play with more confidence as a result, and the Eton goalkeeper only just stopped Costley’s fine shot in time.”
The iconic match was played on March 31.
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Throughout The English Game, Fellowes explores the politics of football and the noticeable divide between classes, as well as the game tactics.
The series explains how the working-class had to fight for a chance to be involved in the sport, which would eventually become the most-played game in the world.
There are riots at the hands of the working class who will stop at nothing to make sure they have an equal chance in the sporting world.
Although the series has been adapted to heighten the drama, it gives fans a fairly accurate overview of how the rules of the game became revolutionary.
The English Game is available to watch on Netflix now
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