Not all of our dozen grandchildren played soccer, but we rooted for those who did and enjoyed every minute. When their parents were young, all three played soccer. I remember dropping one off and driving to the next field to drop off the second one, and then repeating that for the third, only to circle back to watch part of the first match, and then the second and finally the third. Sitting in the bleachers or standing beside a cheering Peggy on the field probably accounts for hearing loss in my left ear, but rock and roll may have contributed to it, also. We enjoyed watching the kids play.
Images of the kids playing shuttled through my mind as I watched a new Netflix series, The English Game. Julian Fellowes, Tony Charles, and Oliver Cotton were the writing team for this wonderful drama. Julian Fellows was the creator of Downton Abbey. The English Game was just released on Netflix on the 20th of March, 2020.
The series is about football, or as we call it here in America, soccer. Originally, the sport was only for old school gentlemen . . . the wealthy privileged-class. The game changed from amateur to professional. The FA Cup, officially The Football Association Challenge Cup, was an annual event begun in the 1871–72 season. As the popularity grew, new teams were formed, and eventually professionals were paid for their skills under the table. The Football Association Challenge Cup is the oldest national football competition in the world. Once paid professional non-upper-crust players were allowed to officially play, the game was changed forever. After 1885 no amateur club ever won the FA Cup.
The series, six 45 (or so) minute episodes, introduced us to both gentlemen and working-class people. Like Downton Abbey, I was drawn into the various story lines and characters. I cared about these characters just like our kids and grandkids, and was reeled into their life and began rooting for the team members as they fought for the game they loved.
Don’t worry, there’s nothing complicated about the rules in these early games.