The English Game season 1 – without football, Netflix brings a 19th Century story

By Daniel Hart
Published: March 20, 2020 (Last updated: last month)
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The English Game season 1 - Netflix


Netflix’s The English Game is the series we need right now with the absence of the sport, which dabbles with a 19th-century story surrounding the football.

The English Game season 1 will be released on Netflix on March 20th, 2020 – Add it to your list now. This review contains no spoilers.

Netflix continues to be ironic during the coronavirus crisis; with covid-19 halting major sports, including our beloved football, Netflix goes back to the start of football in the 19th century with series The English Game.

And yes, I know Netflix is not purposefully releasing ironic titles, but allow me to enjoy myself while I stare at the same walls every day, wondering if my supermarket nearby is going to restock the essential shelves.

I’ll admit, I found myself shouting “foul” repeatedly in the first episode, but the whistle was not blown. It’s easy to forget that modern football is completely different from how it is used to be. You could do a leg crunching tackle back in the day. Now, if you so much show any intention of showing your studs, you could be presented with a red card. Insurances companies have changed the state of the game forever. The English Game proves we have come a long way in terms of tactics and approach — if you do not like football, then I apologize for boring you.

Now that the FA Cup is deemed “just another cup”, it seems almost uncanny to see how much importance is given to the trophy in The English Game Season 1. When a cotton mill owner in working-class Darwen hires two Scottish players to give them a fighting chance in the FA Cup, it changes the game forever. It brings life into a tournament that was pretty much pre-determined. Characters are introduced that see the game differently and crowds are re-energized by new heroes.

But with football, unfortunately, comes politics. The English Game toys with the notion that it was very much a working-class game, with wage cuts on factory workers having an impact on the players. It dabbles with how that served in contrast to the upper-class who felt their game was threatened by mill workers and how they tried to ring-fence the rules for themselves.

If you are a football fan, you’ll find yourself intrigued by the differences as well as the absorbing story — how have we gone from no stadiums to Manchester City having the ability to financially dope themselves to titles? There’s a lot that will go through your mind, especially with three months of no football.

Netflix’s The English Game Season 1 will be loved regardless if you love the sport or not — it supports a time where life was very much different. Also, if you are a Downtown Abbey fan, then it is from the same creator, so give it ago in your dull isolation while the world repairs itself.

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