Beastly Fury, by Richard Sanders
Sunday 21 March 2010
The Chinese claim to have invented football but there is no doubt that the form of the game we recognise originated in Britain.
Public schoolboys of the Victorian era have long been given credit for popularising it, founding the Football Association and codifying a common set of rules, but one of the virtues of this revisionist history is that it stands this orthodoxy on its head: "It was not the upper classes who civilised the people's game, it was the common people who civilised the upper-class game."
Sanders's meticulous research is persuasive, showing that on the playing fields of Eton the emphasis was all on shin-kicking violence and "pluck" rather than coherent team strategy. He credits the Scots with revolutionising tactics with "combination play", or passing the ball, suggesting the fact that a quarter of the professionals in England were Scottish by 1910 shows how strong their influence was.
This original thesis, written with style, wit and authority, explains how the beastly game became more beautiful.
Published in paperback by Bantam, £8.99
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 2 HeForShe campaign: Iceland to follow up Emma Watson speech with UN women's rights conference – for men only
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Teenagers irritable because early school hours mess with their biological clocks
- 5 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
Before They Pass Away: In pictures
Pride: Are US film censors pandering to homophobia?
Kylie Minogue Kiss Me Once tour, London O2 - review: Pop princess still reigns supreme
Miranda Hart and Sarah Millican named highest-selling female comedians
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
- < Previous
- Next >