“The English Game” Sets Record

Darwen FC (The English Game)

A record crowd of 37 turned out for the Football Scholars Forum (FSF) and Society for American Soccer History (SASH) joint session devoted to The English Game miniseries, developed by Julian Fellowes for Netflix. 

In the absence of live football due to the global COVID19 pandemic, the session started at the traditional 3:00pm UK kickoff time. Moderated by David Kilpatrick and Tom McCabe of SASH, with opening remarks from Peter Alegi and Alex Galarza representing FSF, an all-star squad of 19th-century fútbologists offered five-minute comments on the historical drama. 

Old Etonians (The English Game)

Andy Mitchell, author of the biography on the series’ protagonist, Arthur Kinnaird: First Lord of Football, shared his insight as a consultant to The English Game. Ged O’Brien, author of Played in Glasgow and Chief Historian of The Hampden Collection, discussed the role of “the Scotch Professors” in the series. Martin Westby, author of England’s Oldest Football Clubs 1815-1889 and A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889, provided more context on the emergence of clubs in mid-19th century competition.

Tony Collins, Emeritus Professor of History at DeMontfort University and author of How Football Began, discussed the emergence of tactics as various football codes evolved. Jean Williams, Professor of Sport at the University of Wolverhampton, addressed literary elements of the drama. Then Club Historian of Rangers Football Club, David Mason, provided a sense of how English clubs drew from Scottish football’s talent pool at the time. With the constituent elements of drama as outlined in Aristotle’s Poetics providing a framework, the ensuing discussion addressed issues like authenticity, class conflict, sport governance, and pedagogical uses for the film.

Click here for an audio recording of the session (for educational use only).