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Beastly Fury: The Strange Birth Of British Football Paperback – 18 Mar 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (18 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553819356
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553819359
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Love it or hate it, football is one of the most successful institutions ever spawned in these islands. The sheer speed with which a random blend of mud, testosterone and Anglo-Saxon eccentricity evolved into a world game, not to mention a multi-billion-pound industry, still has the power to set the pulse racing. It is a story that has been told many times, but Richard Sanders not only retells it with scholarly zeal, but gives it a new slant... His book is as much a social history as a sporting history, and all the better for it... Beastly Fury can be warmly recommended to anyone curious about the origins of the modern game" (Max Davidson Mail on Sunday)

"There is no shortage of football stories. It is one of the subtle triumphs of Richard Sanders's book that he brings another tale gently into the light. Beastly Fury is a bright, breezy account of the beginnings of football. Sanders kicks off with a rush and his pace rarely slackens but something of substance emerges. The author has a keen eye for the personal anecdote whether it be the eccentric goalkeeper or the club secretary who is consumed by ambition. But the significance of Beastly Fury is that it lays bare just how football was born, nurtured and grew on the back of class movements... succint but acute... engaging but quietly serious" (Hugh MacDonald Glasgow Herald)

"Sanders's meticulous research is persuasive... [an] original thesis, written with style, wit and authority" (Simon Redfern Independent on Sunday)

"Well written and thoughtful... extremely good indeed" (Rod Liddle Sunday Times)

"Smooth, pacey prose... fascinating" (Alex Wade Times Literary Supplement)

Book Description

A fascinating, funny and sometimes alarming tale of how a violent and chaotic folk game became modern football.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ian Thumwood on 22 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a compelling read and a book that I found impossible to put down. The history commences with the medieival origins of the game but the author gets his teeth stuck in in his subject with the emergence of the game within public schools. It was fascinating to discover how Association Football came about and it is difficult not to feel sorry for the public schools who fought to have their own unique rules adopted as the game became increasingly formalised only to see the sport develop into a monster they couldn't quite control as new, working class teams emerged to dominate the game. I was staggered just how different the rules would have been when the first FA Cup final was played at The Oval (!!) in 1872 - being only partially aware of this, I was thoroughly engrossed by this information.

Where the book scores is the way that it illustrates just how different the game was in Victorian times. The descriptions of the early FA Cup finals are heavy with nostalgia and the rapid ascent into the national consciousness was fascinating, in particular the importance of the game in Scotland where the pioneering Queens Park first introduced tactics that allowed successive Scottish teams to destroy their English counterparts. As the century wore on, it is striking how many parallels there were with the contemporary game and the book explains how Lancashire cluns poached the best talent from North of the border so as to dominate football. There is also the whiff of corruption involving Preston North End, the Manchester United of their day as well as other scandals involving players like Billy Meredith and much of the later chapters deal with this in detail.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paul Nicholl on 29 July 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Beastly Fury is one of the best books I've ever read; the fact that I just could not put it down and completed the 300 pages in twenty-four hours underlines this. It is a well-researched history of the birth of British football that encompasses divisions within society that include both class and nationality. The main contributions for the origins of the game are carefully analysed, as the roles of both the public schools and working men are put in their context. The influence of Scottish football is also covered, but don't expect every little detail of footballing events up to 1915 to be covered. The author has picked out events relevant to the development of the professional game and guided us through a range of personalities who left their mark on our national sport. One fascinating aspect is the description of the style of football played within these shores which, in the light of the recent World Cup failure, gives much food for thought.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tim Gutteridge on 9 Aug. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Beastly Fury tells the story of how British football gradually emerged over the course of the 19th century, the result of the coming together (and subsequent separation) of working, middle and upper class forms of football. In telling this story, Sanders also gives an account of the changing class relations of the industrialising Britain of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and in particular of the strength of extreme snobbery and social prejudice which characterised these relations. A small but telling example of this was the fact that any professionals who were reluctantly selected for early England teams were obliged to wear different shirts from their amateur teammates.

So much football writing merely recycles the same old anecdotes and received wisdom about the roots of the game. By contrast, this book is based on original research, and it shows. Just one of many gems is the story of a game, organised at a time when different clubs still played by different rules and when the rugby-football split was still embryonic. Some footballers from Sheffield (who played a version close to the modern form of the game) were invited to join a Yorkshire team to play against Lancashire in 1870. Infuriated by their opponents' habit of tackling them, one of the Sheffield-based players "grabbed the ball by the lace and hammered his opponent about the head with it". As Sanders drily comments, "Sheffield footballers were not invited again." This anecdote neatly encapsulates the fact that the modern division between rugby and football was one which took a long time to emerge and was in no way inevitable or natural.

The book takes the story through to the emergence of professional football in the late 19th century, and also includes a fascinating chapter on women's football in late-Victorian Britain.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R Lawrence on 1 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Richard Sanders explains for this American reader the evolution of British football and rugby in the context of changing town and city life in Britain. His story clarifies and completes a chronological history of the niches and corners of athletic society from the public schools to the rising of teams and leagues in industrial towns. Class distinctions, rigid codes of school conduct, the stiff upper lip and the pliant backside, all figure in a fascinating, even-handed narrative. A pleasure to read - hard to put down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By atticusfinch1048 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 30 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a well researched book about the birth of modern football and how it grew from ruffians in the English towns and countrysides to the early football stadia

It covers corruption ( yes nothing new) autocratic owners (nothing new either) and how brutal the game was. It also covers some of the reason why English football is so tribal and helps to make you understand that.
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