Search for your sports books:

Featured Publisher: John Blake
Apart form its current publications, John Blake Publishing has a sizeable back list of acclaimed sporting titles. These include biographies of stars such as Roger Federer, WG Grace, Fernando Torres and Frankie Dettori. For more information, visit www.blake.co.uk



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


Toolstation


SBOTM Current Top 10

Unstoppable: My Life So Far By Maria Sharapova
Particular Books
Read Review Buy Now
Over and Out: My Innings of a Lifetime with Test Match Special By Henry Blofeld
Hodder & Staughton
Read Review Buy Now
Football: My Life, My Passion By Graeme Souness
Headline
Read Review Buy Now
Rugby, The Game Of My Life: Battling For England in the Professional Era By Rob Andrew
Hodder & Staughton
Read Review Buy Now
Ali: A Life By Jonathan Eig
Simon & Schuster
Read Review Buy Now
A Clear Blue Sky By Jonny Bairstow with Duncan Hamilton
Harper Collins
Read Review Buy Now
From Orient to the Emirates The Plucky Rise of Burnley FC By Tim Quelch
Pitch Publishing
Read Review Buy Now
Ascent By Sir Chris Bonnington
Simon & Schuster
Read Review Buy Now
Glove Story By Rob Stokes, Derek Hammond & Gary Silke
Conker Editions
Read Review Buy Now
The Way of the Runner A Journey Into the Fabled World of Japanese Running By Adharanand Finn
WW Norton
Read Review Buy Now

Amazon’s top 6 best-sellers

© Sharks Media Ltd 2004 – 2012. Site designed and maintained by Marcus Hamblett for Furydesign.