“The English Game” is a new mini-series on Netflix that has soccer fans learning and enjoying the history of the English game.
The show was released on March 20, 2020, on the streaming service Netflix. The mini-series includes six eventful episodes that explain the history of football in England, also known as soccer in the United States. The show is based on a true story and focuses on how the Football Association started.
The main protagonists are two Scottish men, Fergus Suter (Kevin Guthrie) and Jimmy Love (James Harkness), that are best friends who decide to move to Darwen, located in Lancashire, England. There, a local competitive football league of which Darwen F.C. is a part of, is managed by James Walsh (Craig Parkinson), the local mill owner in Darwen.
Walsh brings Suter and Love in to make his team better and compete for the Football Association championship. The Old Estonians recently won the award, a very high-class team led by Arthur Kinnaird (Edward Holcroft), a wealthy banker. The Old Estonians look down on all the men who work in the mills, thinking them classless.
The league in which these teams play has many rules, including one that stipulated players can’t be paid for their talent. Walsh breaks this rule and pays Suter and Love for their abilities rather than their work. This causes tension between the league and also their teammates because Suter and Love are making more than them.
The Old Estonians want to challenge Darwen F.C. because they want to practice before the big tournament and challenge themselves against Suter and Love. Suter and Love play extremely well and lead their team to a draw with the Old Estonians.
The Old Estonians question if Walsh was paying Suter and Love because they couldn’t believe these men would come to Darwen to work in a mill. As the tournament goes on, Suter becomes one of the best players, catching the attention of Blackburn F.C. owner John Cartwright (Ben Batt). He offers Suter more money than Walsh, and Suter accepts the offer in an effort to move his family away from their abusive father.
Suter tries to hide this from his teammates, Love and Walsh, until they find out he left the team at Love’s wedding. Everyone turns their backs on Suter, and he is left on his own on his journey to Blackburn. Suter has a plan that involves bringing Love to Blackburn to help their chances of winning. He speaks to Cartwright about this and Cartwright wants Love to join the team. Suter sets out on a journey back to Darwen to convince his friend to join. Suter finally convinces Love to join him at Blackburn to try and win the cup against the Old Estonians.
The Old Estonians eventually discover that players are being paid and ban Blackburn F.C. from playing them in the final. Luckily, however, Kinnard and Suter have developed a level of respect for each other, and they speak to the board to try and change their mind. Eventually, the game is played even though it wasn’t the “gentleman’s” way.
Blackburn F.C. eventually beats the Old Estonians for the first time in tournament history. This finally breaks the tie between the rich and the poor mill workers, the latter of whom earn a chance to compete against the best and deserve to be paid.
Kinnard becomes the president of the Football Association and changes the rule that allows players to be paid for their talent, changing the history of the game forever.
Overall, “The English Game” deserves all the time and recognition it has received because the events it documents ended up changing the game forever. The creator, Julian Fellowes, provides viewers with information about how the game became popular and how players came to be paid, which was a milestone for the advancement of the game. Fellowes handles the topic in an informative manner that keeps viewers wanting more. All soccer fans who love the game and want to learn a special part of its’ history should make time to watch this show.