We all know that all sports have been suspended because of the coronavirus but fret not, Netflix is here to save the day. However, it’s going to have to be in the form of historic matches in the 1880s. Netflix is about to premiere The English Game from the legendary Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes about the men who inspired what is debated to be one of the biggest sports in the history of the world.
In the story, the 1883 FA Cup final features the Old Etonians captain Arthur Kinnaird who has been an absolute monster in the league at that time. In the final, he runs the ball from their own half of the field, beats three defenders and fires an absolute screamer hitting top bins. In any league now, everybody hits top bins but then? Spectacular.
However, the 1883 FA Cup final wasn’t even televised. Fooled you for a moment there, huh? Well, this is an adaptation that took place in August 36 years later––2019––on the set of the new six-part drama about the birth of what is now professional football (or soccer, depending on where you came from).
While the cast of the team and the crew of the drama plays an important role, what makes this grounded in reality is the fact that Mike Delaney was there. Delaney was a former professional player with Germany and England. He’s mainly known as the “football choreographer” for his taking part in many advertisements that feature Messi and Ronaldo––two of the biggest football names in the world.
His job for the drama is to coordinate the on-pitch action sequences, much like that of Kinnaird’s banger.
“I’ve tried to make it as authentic as possible,” he says. While football teams today might play a 4-5-1 or 4-4-2 formation, Old Etonians played 1-1-8. “Which seems crazy to us nowadays,” Delaney says.
“The Eton players were bigger and stronger [than Blackburn] and had this thing about protecting the ball and moving a bit like a rugby scrum,” he says. “And the other [public school] teams had a similar version of that.”
Mark your calendars, football fans! 20th of March is coming soon and you better be ready to kick-off.