English Game Scores Big
May 14, 2020
The English Game is a historical drama mini series. The story is about soccer and how class discrepancies and personal relationships led to the evolution of the game. The rules of the game were set by the upper class and only “gentlemen” were meant to play; however, the working men took to the game as well. They also began to change the game from a rugby-style attacking mob to the current style of passing and spreading the field.
The story also depicts the beginning of players being allowed to be paid to play instead of just playing for the love of the game. The Old Etonians led by Arthur Kinnard (Edward Holcroft) , which is a club of wealthy men that play only for the love of the game contrasts with the clubs of Darwen and Blackburn, which are made up of men who work in the Northern mills.
Two players, Fergus Suitor (Kevin Guthrie) and Jimmy Love (James Harkness), are recruited from another team to play for money for Darwen. This causes drama between the clubs as the Old Etonians feel this is against the rules and the mill worker teams are changing the game for the worse. Complicating this class difference is the fact that the Old Etonian players make up the board of the Football Association, the governing body of English soccer.
Intertwined with the soccer drama are the relationships between teammates, friends and families. The Darwen team has to adjust to having new players that they then discover are being paid to play. This sparks rivalry between the teammates and is only furthered when the professional players join Blackburn for more money. This rivalry explodes on the field when the two teams play each other with disastrous consequences for one of the players.
The personal relationships of several players are developed to increase the drama. Fergus and Jimmy both begin to form romantic relationships when they transfer to Darwen. The trauma of a miscarriage is navagated by Kinnard and his wife. Additionally, Fergus must protect his family from his abusive father.
Overall, the show is engaging and entertaining. However, for a show whose main concept is the origin of the modern game of soccer, soccer was not depicted as prevalently as it should have been, as the action on the field was in low amounts compared to the other story lines. However the drama makes the show watchable and interesting to someone that might not be a fan of soccer. Although it is not prevalent, the soccer action is interesting and exciting.
I give this show 4 out of 5 stars. You can watch all six episodes on Netflix which runs for an hour each.