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The inside story of the man who took association football across the world and became its first ever entertainer in the process...
The inside story of the man who took association football across the world and became its first ever entertainer in the process...
148 backers pledged £9,380 to help bring this project to life.

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Adopting a narrative unique from all previous football documentaries, Football: Birth, Growth & Domination will tell the history of association football via the introduction of an unlikely working-class hero - the diminutive Fred Spiksley - whose remarkable life perfectly charts the history of the beautiful game and how it spread to become an obsession for billions across the globe. 

Learn how the world’s most popular game came to be and grew via the remarkable life of its first ever entertainer.

  • Background: Clive Nicholson, who is part of our team, is Fred's great-great nephew.

FRED SPIKSLEY: A FLAWED FOOTBALL GENIUS   

Lionel Messi may be following in the footsteps of George Best and Best in the footsteps of Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney. But all of these legends followed in the footsteps of Fred Spiksley - and none of them can lay claim to being chased along the touchline by the future Queen of England whilst scoring the first ever hat-trick against Scotland.

And how many footballers can say that after winning every honour in the game that they shared a stage with Charlie Chaplin and escaped from a prison camp in Germany at the outbreak of WW1. Fred Spiksley did all of those things and much more. Fred was professional football’s first entertainer and it’s time for the world to rediscover a forgotten legend.

Click the Guardian logo to read their take on Fred's life
Click the Guardian logo to read their take on Fred's life

At his peak, Fred was the quickest winger in England; he was a player with such ability that he was able to take his club and country to the pinnacle of football during an era where his slender frame did not suit the rough treatment that was often meted out to him. 

Even with two broken ribs, he had the pluck and tenacity to remain on the field and score the winning goal in an epic FA Cup tie at Olive Grove, the ground where he made his name, 'the Olive Grove Flyer'. He scored over 300 career goals and won every major honour in the game, and holds the record for the highest goals-to-game ratio of any winger in the history of English football.

His fame extended around the World as he became the first professional footballer to coach across three continents: North America, South America and Europe. 

In Europe alone, he managed the Swedish national team and guided 1FC Nuremberg to the German Championship in 1927. Football presented Fred Spiksley, a small lad from the backstreets of Lincolnshire, England, with a lifetime of adventure.

Fred shared a stage with a young Charlie Chaplin
Fred shared a stage with a young Charlie Chaplin

With all of that said, an addicted gambler and ladies man, Fred Spiksley’s character - like many flawed legends - meant that he was not always the hero off the pitch that he was on it. 

LISTEN TO FRED BEING TALKED ABOUT ON BBC RADIO 5LIVE  

Co-author of 'Flying Over An Olive Grove: The Remarkable Story of Fred Spiksley', football historian and one of our team, Mark Metcalf, joins Colin Murray on BBC Radio 5live to discuss Fred's life and book.

A QUICK NOTE ON THE STORY, ITS STRUCTURE AND CONTEXT:  

We are telling the story of association football's birth and growth through the life and events of a single man, Fred Spiksley; a central character/hero through whom the audience can learn about the game in a unique way.

Previous history of football documentaries suffer because they lack a character focus and just dot from one event to another, and from one character to another without having the opportunity to really explore the important characters and events fully. Fred also provides an opportunity to explore early football from the inside rather than the out. We don't think anything like this has been done before.

DISTRIBUTION:

The plan is to distribute the finished film across Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play, Netflix (if the documentary gets accepted), DirecTV, Dish Network, broadcast TV channels, Microsoft Movies & TV store, and Playstation Network.

THE TEAM:

The team includes media professionals with experience of working with or for companies like the BBC (Match of the Day), TalkSPORT, the Hollywood film industry, The Late Late Show with James Corden, Yahoo Sport and The Observer/Guardian.

Risks and challenges

Our biggest challenge is how do we produce a great documentary about early football with a relative paucity of moving images to help tell the story? The simple answer is a) we produce a presenter-led film which sees us visit historical places of interest, and b) we get super creative and resourceful with the plentiful still images we have, which includes some of the oldest football photographs in the world, some of which are being exclusively colourised for the film.

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    EBOOK

    Receive a PDF copy of Fred Spiksley's acclaimed lifestory via email.

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    A BOOK EXCLUSIVE TO THIS CAMPAIGN

    EXCLUSIVE TO THIS CAMPAIGN: The Tales of Ambrose Langley.

    Ambrose Langley was one of football's toughest full backs wth a larger than life character. Republished for the first time since it's original release in 1920 and featuring new photographs Ambrose Langley shares what it was like to be one of Victorian footballs most notorious footballers with candid accounts of the scrapes he got into both on and off the field.

    The Tales of Ambrose Langley is available exclusively as part of this Kickstarter campaign or in person from members of the team. Books will be posted out in July.

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    A unique and exclusive colourised print of the first Sheffield Wednesday side to play at Hillsborough in September 1899.

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    HARDBACK BOOK (SIGNED)

    Hardback copy of the acclaimed book 'Flying Over An Olive Grove: The Remarkable Story of Fred Spiksley' signed by the authors.

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    EXCLUSIVE BOOK & COLOURISED PRINT

    1) EXCLUSIVE TO THIS CAMPAIGN: The Tales of Ambrose Langley.

    Ambrose Langley was one of football's toughest full backs wth a larger than life character. Republished for the first time since it's original release in 1920 and featuring new photographs Ambrose Langley shares what it was like to be one of Victorian footballs most notorious footballers with candid accounts of the scrapes he got into both on and off the field.

    The Tales of Ambrose Langley is available exclusively as part of this Kickstarter campaign or in person from members of the team. Books will be posted out in July.

    2) EXCLUSIVE COLOURISED PRINT
    A unique and exclusive colourised print of the first Sheffield Wednesday side to play at Hillsborough in September 1899.

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    MEET THE TEAM FOR DRINKS

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    OFFICIAL SPONSOR

    - Get your business logo in the opening and closing credits, in the "Sponsored by..." segment
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Funding period

- (28 days)