The Changing Room

by David Storey

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 320

Harry Riley

Harry Riley is the janitor in the stadium changing room. Harry owes allegiance to the rugby team’s owner, Frederick Thornton, and has very little interest in the game itself (he never actually watches it). Espousing his staunch belief in the value of hard work, such as his cleaning, he asserts that modern players have gone soft. With little education, Harry has idiosyncratic opinions but is sensitive to the players’ moods.

Ken Walsh

Ken Walsh, a laborer, plays forward on the team. His humor creates a positive attitude and promotes camaraderie among teammates, though some of the more reserved members object to Walsh's antics.

Clifford Owens

Clifford Owens, the team captain, encourages the team to professionalize. His emphasis on success eventually pays off, and both his teammates and Thornton appreciate his efforts.

Sir Frederick Thornton

Thornton, the club owner, represents the English class system. While his wealth enables him to support the team, their awareness of the vast class differences is inescapable. Thornton continually aims to show his respect for the players despite the difficulty of connecting with the reality of their lives. Passionate about the sport, he understands the need to bring it into the modern age but worries that the changes will destroy its spirit, as evidenced by his dream about robot players.


The team secretary and accountant, MacKendrick is fully convinced of the superiority of modernity. He argues that progress and technology have brought mostly beneficial changes. MacKendrick is an enthusiastic supporter of both the team and the sport.


Kendal is an older player who is injured during a game. Knowing of the dangers of the highly physical sport, the other characters empathize but have varied perspectives on his predicament. Thornton opts to keep Kendal on the team after the injury.


Trevor, a high school teacher, is one of the team’s few white-collar professionals. His presence shows the changing composition of this team and within the sport overall.

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