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Monday, June 7


You might have noticed that there is a small football competition happening in South Africa, starting this Friday. England are playing the USA on Saturday.

I was wondering who Jane might put into her football team. She has got some very likely characters to choose from.

Football was played in the 18th century. In fact it goes back long, long before then.

William Fitzstephen writing in 1170 noted that every trade had it’s own football team and often played after dinner in the local fields.These trades were found in the towns and cities. The trades were gathered together under guilds. The guilds trained apprentices, provided tests for people to become craftsmen and finally master craftsmen. and provided quality control. The Guilds covered many skills, stonemasons, armourers, cutlers, dyers, goldsmiths , needlemakers and the list was endless.It was the apprentices that would have played football. According to William Fitzstephen, the elders sat on their horses to the side of the game getting all hot and bothered cheering on their teams. Sounds familiar.

In 1280 in one manor’s record it states that Henry, son of William de Ellington at Ulkham on Trinity Sunday was accidentally stabbed by David le Ken and died during a game

In Edward II time, about 1314, people complained about the tumult and the evils that arose from the game of football.

Edward IV in 1477 was an opponent of football. It was a violent dangerous sport in those days apparently.

By 1581 Richard Mulcaster, the headmaster of The Merchant Tailors School thought it was a healthy and strength providing activity for his pupils.

However by the end of the Civil war in 1649, Oliver Cromwell was opposed to it and even enforced laws against the playing of football along side most other things that were fun, it must be said.

The sort of football that was played in Jane’s time was usually played between the inhabitants of country villages on Shrove Tuesday each year, or on other religious holidays. It often numbered hundreds of people on each side. All the occupants of a village would be invited to take part. The ball used would be a pigs bladder pumped up. The game would cover the countryside between the two villages. It might be arranged that the church door of each village would be the goal.

In 1772 in the village of Hitchin, they had a problem. The ball was lost in the priory pond. They must have got it out though because eventually a goal was scored in the porch of St Mary’s Church.

By the 18th century most of Britain’s public school played football. Winchester College, where Jane’s two nephews, by her brother Edward, Edward junior and George, attended, had taken up football by 1750. Jane must have heard stories from the two boys about playing, “the beautiful game.”

We can imagine a game of football being played between Chawton and Farringdon each Shrove Tuesday across Edward’s fields. That’s about two miles. They might have used the church porches in Chawton and Farringdon for goals.

So, who could Jane have in her World Cup football team?

I think Edmund Bertram would have to be the goalkeeper. Steady, honest, idealistic. A safe pair of hands.

Jonny Lee Miller as Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park

In defence I think she would have had Captain Harville at right back,

Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth, Persuasion

Captain Wentworth at centre back, no good in goal , tends to drop people, but a reliable defender of Britains shores. Mr Martin would be alongside him, strong, honest, trustworthy. A man to have with you in a tight spot.

Jefferson Hall as Robert Martin, Emma

Then at left back position Captain Benwick another player experienced in defending Britain’s shores.

Captain Harville (l) and Captain Benwick (r), Persuasion

Now for the midfield, the engine room of the team. Jane would need some creative players there. I think two players are needed here. Mr Knightley on the right of the midfield, wise, intelligent, great vision.
Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley, Emma

And, a real creative superstar on his left in midfield, the one and only Henry Tilney. He would tease the opposition, but with a sharp intelligence. He would make a great creative midfielder pumping visionary balls forward to the attacking players.

J.J. Feild as Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey

Finally the forward line. The attackers, the prima uomos of the team, those Jane can rely on to score. On the right wing she could have John Willoughby, unreliable at times but with undoubted flashes of smartness, brilliance and he’s guaranteed to score. from any position. A real wow with the female fans.
Dominic Cooper as Mr. Willoughby, Sense and Sensibility

On the left wing Jane could have Frank Churchill. An attractive prospect and a smooth player. An experienced scorer.

Raymond Coulthard as Frank Churchill, Emma

So who is going to be the star of Jane’s team? The centre forward, the superstar. Yes you’ve guessed right it’s Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy himself, goalscorer supreme. He never puts a foot wrong. The crowd will roar his name, “ DARCY! DARCY! DARCY!”

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice

And so we have it. Jane’s team, strong, talented, unbeatable? OH YES!!!!

By my next blog England will have beaten the USA by the way.

Posted by Tony Grant, London Calling


Gina said...

I love it!! Great choices. But Jane might have to break up a few fights between the players (Knightley and Churchill, for example). :-)

By the way, just wanted to mention it's "prima donna."

Jenny said...

Wrong Knightley, wrong Darcy ;) (I'd have gone with JLM and MM!)

Vic said...

That was my bad, Gina. I was supposed to proof Tony's wonderful post and fell short.

Jenny, I think Tony meant me to place JLM's image in Knightley's place, but this was my opportunity to use JLM AND Jeremy Northam.

Raquel said...

Tony, dear

Tony, darling

I must disagree with some positions.

Edmund Bertram is too indecisive to be a keeper! I prefer Mr. Knightley in that position - calm and firm in his decisions

I'd put Captain Wentworth and Mr. Crawford as attackers.

Here, in Brazil everybody is a team coach... even who, like me, does not like football!

Southerner said...

Thanks Jenny. Nobody ever agrees exactly on team selections. But the centre forward needs to be swaggering and arrogant. His personality as well as his skill has to dominate the opposing defenders.

Gina, thanks for your kind comment and correction.

Perhaps prima uomo would be even more appropriate.

Knightley and Churchill. In a game as important as football, all animosities are put to one side. The game is everything.

Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deb said...

Excellent Tony! love the selection [but indeed, where IS Henry Crawford?] - love the Tilney choice - and FINALLY a post that I can actually share with my husband where he might be willing to read the whole thing!
Thank you!

Eliza Martin said...

What a hilarious post. I could totally see Elizabeth Bennett liking football. I see her as a decent goalie.

Gina said...

I'm glad you went with Northam. He's the cutest Knightley, IMO. :-) And besides, as you said, you'd already had a chance to use JLM.

CLM said...

Brilliant! I might root for England over the US if these men were playing...

Enid Wilson said...

Excellent team! I'm thinking they would be playing against Bronte's Rochester... hehe.

Can I repost part of your dream team at my blog?

Southerner said...

Well this seems to have raised a few passions. That's what football is all about.

I hope everybody enjoys the next MONTH!!!!

Thanks for all your great comments.

I'm sure many of you could pick a team of very different characters.

Enid, of course you can use some of the blog.

All the best,

Southerner said...

Gina, I have just looked at your Dickens blog.

I have got a couple of Dickens item on my blog, London Calling. And by the way, I've been to Gads Hill and searched all over Rochester for the Dickens places of interest.

Julie said...

Cool blog you have here!!!


Enid Wilson said...

Thanks Tony!

ChaChaneen said...

Brilliant! Lurve Mr. Tilney's position! ha ha What a hoot!

Gina said...

Very cool, Southerner! Your blog looks nice.

By the way, for those who love Dickensian couples, I've got a new poll up on on my blog. :-)

Deb said...

Tony! - a DRAW! thank goodness!

Communication Works said...

Great lineup!!

I think, though, that after ending in a draw, England is saying to its goalkeeper "Badly done, Greene, badly done!"

Yes, Saturday was a difficult day to be a patriotic American and an enthusiastic Anglophile, too.

Karen Reyburn said...

Very good choices!! Willoughby and Churchill might let them down, but they're used to pleasing crowds, if not individual people :)

Nonna Beach said...

Clever post ! Go U.S.A. in spite of bad calls by refs !!!

Adam Spunberg said...

This is an amazing, EPIC post. I absolutely love it! And your reasoning is pretty sound, too. Maybe William Price could have gotten in there too somewhere. He defends Britain's shores -- and he's reliable.

You wonder if Willoughby and John Terry would have a lot in common:P

But of big mistake. England will not beat the USA. Your goalie lets shots from midfield roll by him. Sorry! USA 1, England 0