Search for your sports books:

MoneyMap

Read Review
<back to archive

Underdogs By Keith Dewhurst

Release date: 22nd March, 2012
Publisher: Yellow Jersey

List Price: 16.99
Our Price: 11.04
You Save: 5.95 (35%)
Buy Now

It was in the late nineteenth century that English football enjoyed its first prolonged surge in popularity, prompting clubs, especially those based in the north west, to integrate Scottish players renowned for their passing skills into their teams. It was a move which transformed the sport, making it faster, more skilful and further differentiated it from rugby - scrimmaging was still an incongruous feature of the round ball game.

This Scottish influx did not please everyone and it wasn't long before a team from the industrialised north faced another from the slightly more genteel south, a clash of styles and cultures widened by Britain's industrial revolution.

Not surprisingly, it was in the FA Cup that such encounters first took place, but in 1879 the competition yielded its first giant killing when a team from Darwen in Lancashire, replete with two Scots, Jimmy Love and Fergus Suter, travelled to London to play the more sophisticated Remnants at Kennington Oval.

What makes this tie so important is that Love and Suter were football's first professionals. Professionalism had been outlawed by the FA which feared that paying players would ruin the game; how prescient those fears proved.

Not that Darwen were a Victorian-age Manchester City. They had to stage a concert and raise money via subscriptions and collections to pay for their train journey south, but it proved worthwhile - they beat Remnants 3-2 after extra time to set up a duel with Old Etonians, the epitome of the amateur Victorian game.

In Underdogs, Keith Dewhurst, a successful playwright and novelist, weaves an engaging, well-observed tale, mixing social history with what could be called the roots of modern football.

The first tie between Darwen and Old Etonians finished level, even though the Lancashire side were 5-1 down with 15 minutes remaining. Incredibly, the Etonians refused to travel north for the replay, so the FA insisted on Darwen making another expensive trip south - for another draw. Again the Etonians refused to play in Lancashire, forcing a second replay on their own ground, which they won 6-2.

Space permits us to provide only the barest of details here, but if you're looking for a true, well-written football story highlighting class divisions, how the game changed and early evidence of the will to win set in Victorian England, then Underdogs will not disappoint.


<back to archive


MoneyMapp


SBOTM Current Top 10

Get It On: How the ?70s Rocked Football By Jon Spurling
Biteback
Read Review Buy Now
Time on Rock By Anna Fleming
Canongate
Read Review Buy Now
41-Love: A Memoir By Scarlett Thomas
Counterpoint
Read Review Buy Now
Anatomy of a Football Scout by Jon Cotterill
Camara Brasileira
Read Review Buy Now
Sweat: A History of Physical Exercise By Bill Hayes
Bloomsbury Sport
Read Review Buy Now
52 Ways to Walk By Annabel Streets
Bloomsbury Sport
Read Review Buy Now
Fit And Proper People By Martin Calladine & James Cave
Pitch Publishing
Read Review Buy Now
God is Dead The Rise & Fall of Frank Vandenbrouke By Andy McGrath
Bantam Books
Read Review Buy Now
Butler to the World How Britain Became the Servant of Oligarchs, Tax Dodgers, Kleptocrats and Criminals By Oliver Bullough
Profile Books
Read Review Buy Now
A Delicate Game Brain Injury, Sport and Sacrifice By Hana Walker-Brown
Hodder
Read Review Buy Now

© 2004-2022 Sharks Media Limited.