Are you constantly being forced to watch Downton Abbey by the other half when really all you want to do is watch some football? Yep, we’ve all been there, but now Netflix is serving up the solution with the release of ‘The English Game’, its latest period piece that charts the origins of football, exploring how those involved in its creation reached across the class divide to establish the game as the world’s most popular sport.

The English Game sees Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes tackling (no pun intended) the history of football. The official synopsis reads: “In 1870s England, two footballers on opposite sides of a class divide forge a bond that helps bring the upper-class gentleman’s sport to the masses.” And in order to prepare for the six-episode series, the cast required to play football onscreen trained at the Trafford Training Centre in Carrington, the training ground of Manchester United. Got to be a joke in there about United’s team acting like players this season…

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In terms of cast, Edward Holcroft (the Kingsman film series) and Kevin Guthrie (Sunshine on Leith) lead the series as, respectively, Arthur Kinnaird – known as the ‘First Lord of Football’ – and Glasgow native Fergus Suter, who is often considered the first recognised professional footballer. “He did really change the game, Fergus Suter,” said Fellowes. “He brought the passing game down into England, but before, [football] was much nearer rugby. And they played quite violently. In the show, you know, when you’re watching them play at the beginning, you think, ‘My God, this wouldn’t be allowed for five seconds now!’.”

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Niamh Walsh (Jamestown), Charlotte Hope (Game of Thrones) and Craig Parkinson also appear in the series, alongside James Harkness, Sam Keeley, Gerard Kearns, Henry Loyd Hughes, Ben Batt, and Daniel Ings?! Sadly it’s not the Southampton man going all Vinnie Jones on us.

News of ‘The English Game’ follows the release of the trailer for ‘Ultras’, which focuses on the Naples Ultras culture, as Netflix look to support their multitude of sporting documentaries with some sporting drama. Brave move when you think of the likes of When Saturday Comes and the Goal! trilogy…

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We’re already looking forward to season two and the origin of the match day pasty and playing on a wet and windy Wednesday in Stoke…

The English Game will be released on Friday, 20 March 2020 on Netflix.