Fergus heads back to Scotland where he sees his family; episode 3 of The English Game sees his decision made harder by a focus on his abusive father. As Fergus heads back down to the team, he makes his decision and takes up the offer of playing for Blackburn, promising a few days to make things right with Jimmy and the others before he goes.
Meanwhile, Arthur decides to take Darwen more seriously as the group prepare to give the FA cup back before the tournament. He tells his father about the loan and the company, which doesn’t go down well, and implores his teammates to take the game more seriously as they train and discuss the workers. While the others ridicule the “epidemic” of new teams entering the competition, Arthur feels increasingly alienated, understanding their struggle after seeing it first-hand for himself.
Martha helps Miss Cronshaw after she’s fired and manages to secure her a place at Brookshall’s Sanctuary after some persuading.
Fergus winds up in a fight in the bar with Davy Burns, a Blackburn player, leading Martha to bring him home. When he wakes up, Martha questions Fergus over what he did. She presses, trying to get through to him and fails.
The FA Cup Third Round begins against Derby and Fergie is completely off his game. The team lose 3-0, a crushing blow that sees Darwen crashing out the cup and Jimmy forced to follow Fergus and fruitlessly try and figure out what happened.
Jimmy’s wedding day arrives and Fergus continues to dodge questions about his performance on the pitch. Doris questions him though and Fergus admits the truth about Blackburn and the money offered. He tells Doris about his family and promises to tell Jimmy the truth after the wedding.
After the trip down South, Arthur greets Alba and introduces her to Henry’s Wood, a place they can honour their child’s memory together. It’s a touching sentiment and one that furthers Arthur’s transformation into a more sympathetic man.
Jimmy makes his speech at the wedding and it really hits hard with Fergus, as they go on to mention how he’s part of the community. Fergus steps up to deliver his speech but the news is already out in the papers – he’s defected to Blackburn and with it, caused uproar and devastation across the community. Walsh walks silently away while Jimmy turns his back on his friend and remains silent.
As the episode closes out, Fergus leaves and prepares for the next chapter in his life.
Arthur and Fergus’ character development over the season is ultimately been the stand-out moment for the whole show. While the football drama and the rags-to-riches story feels a little formulaic and obvious, along with the class war at the heart of this one, the character drama and development is enough to overshadow this and make for an enjoyable watch nonetheless.