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Underdogs: The Unlikely Story of Football's First FA Cup Heroes Hardcover – 1 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Yellow Jersey (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224083139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224083133
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.9 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 614,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Dewhurst has dug widely and clearly enjoyed the archives.this entire team has the memorial that it richly deserves (Huw Richards When Saturday Comes)

Fascinating and entertaining...a social and cultural history of sport, class, British society and identity ... it is another example of the importance of sport in analysing the contemporary world, its passions, its cultures, and its understanding of rules, regulations, competition and fair play (John Foot History Today)

An engaging tale mixing social history with what could be called the roots of modern football (Press Association)

Book Description

The fascinating story of football's origins and the first ever FA Cup giantkilling

Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lord Kinnaird on 19 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is a lot of research going on into the formative years of association football, and Keith Dewhurst has added to the published output with this fascinating insight to the Darwen team who were one of the first sides to dabble in professionalism. He has unearthed a wealth of detail about the Lancashire town and its residents, all based around the adventures of the football team in the FA Cup in the late 1870s. It reads well and he has a lively style, as you would expect from an experienced journalist.

However, I thought that it got bogged down at times in the social history of the town, and for anyone expecting a rip-roaring football tale, be prepared for an enormous amount of background detail. In fact, the cup run does not even start to be covered until you have ploughed through 150 pages!

The book is let down on some factual detail, which should really have been picked up by an editor. For example, his (repeated) insistence that the first football international in 1872 was played at Inchview, home of Partick FC in Glasgow; it was at Hamilton Crescent, home of West of Scotland CC, which any history book will tell you. And the captain of Scotland was Robert Gardner, not Hugh. And there were five 'unofficial' internationals, not three.

It would also have benefited hugely from a short statistical summary or timeline: eg an overview of matches played by Darwen, and the teamlines from the cup run. And I would have liked a glossary of the Darwen players, as it was hard to follow who was who, given the short chapters and the jumping around from subject to subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ian Thumwood on 5 Jun. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I'm an avid reader of anything I can get my hands in concerning Victorian football and thought that this book was brilliant. The football of the 1870's seems so alien in many respects but as Keith Dewhurst demonstrates, there are elements such as contested goals, Rooney-esque outspoken abuse by players, partisan reports in local newspapers, "superstar" players and elements of the odds being stacked in favour of the dominant teams that reflects much of what is so familiar in football today.

The title of the book is somewhat misleading. A large proportion of the first half deals with the origins of football in the great Public schools and shows how the sons of local industrialists brought these new ideas from there to places like Darwen in Lancashire. Some of the information has been recounted in the equally excellent "Beastly Fury" by Richard Sanders but this book very much takes a localised approach and mixes the evolution of "football mania" with other aspects of social history which is novel for a book about a sport. The actual matches against Old Etonians gets relatively short coverage albeit there are some wonderful quotes from accounts about the matches that make compelling reading. My only fault with this book is that I would have loved to have read more about these games but the accounts incorporated are amongst the most vivid I have read. In it's favour, the book has alot of detail about team tactics and looks at how the incorporation of players like Francis Suter from Scotish club Partick modernised the game so that it had already become something different by the mid 1880's when teams like Blackburn Rovers and Preston North End began to dominate.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book, though the title was somewhat misleading. There was very little about the cup run of Darwen FC. It gave a good insight into the development of football, and particular how the different codes developed at different public schools. It also provided a background to the social and economic conditions that existed in Lancashire, particularly in the cotton industry in the 1860's through to the late 1880's. It also gives a clear picture of the stratification of society, and how football was an upper middle class game. The fact that Old Etonians would not travel to Darwen for the cup replay, perhaps the start of the north-south divide.
This was an interesting book, though I did become confused at times with the different codes that were played, and I am not sure that I have it in my imagination how a game of football played in the late 1870's would look like or feel like, though it seems to still possess the physical attributes that we know in the game to-day.
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