"Footeballe is nothinge but beastlie furie and extreme violence", wrote Thomas Elyot in 1531. Nearly five hundred years later, the game may still seem furious and violent, but it has also become the most popular sport on the planet.
This is the story of how the modern, professional, spectator sport of football was born in Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century. It's a tale of testosterone-filled public schoolboys, eccentric mill-owners and bolshy miners, and of why we play football the way we do. Who invented heading? Why do we have an offside law? And why are foreigners so much better than us at the game we invented?
Based on exhaustive research, Beastly Fury picks apart the complex processes which forged the modern game, turning accepted wisdom on its head. It's a story which is strangely familiar - of grasping players, corrupt clubs and autocratic officials. It's a tale of brutality, but at times too, of surprising artistry. Above all it's a story of how football, uniquely among the sports of that era, became what it is today - the people's game.