I have found myself watching a lot of football lately as there have been plenty of matches to choose from, be it Championship, Premier League, Champions League and of course the cups too. Games like football have been played all over the world for hundreds of years, but in 1863 Association Football – the game we know today – began, and the first laws of the sport were written down by Ebenezer Cobb Morley. With a love for the great game, I recently visited the National Football Museum in Manchester.
Spread across several floors, there is plenty to see, do and interact with. For the history buffs there are exhibits and objects right from the beginning of the sport to the present, making it easy to visualise how the sport has developed and progressed over the years, such as a selection of footballs showing how the material, shape and size has evolved over time as technology has advanced. For football fanatics who have followed the beautiful game their whole lives there are displays which take you on a trip down memory lane, reminding you of the important games you witnessed as a child or young adult. There is plenty to do for the kids (and the big kids too) such as taking part in penalty shootouts, interactive display boards, and you can even have a go at commentating on Match of the Day with Gary Lineker. The museum has its very own replica Premier League and FA Cup Trophies available to view and for photo opportunities too.
The museum collection includes a wide variety of footballing history and memorabilia from the England national team’s shirts, including an England shirt from England’s first ever international match in 1872 vs Scotland, to a Mini that was once owned by George Best.
There is the oldest surviving FA Cup winner’s medal to see, also from 1872, and items from football tragedies like the Munich Air Disaster and the Bradford Fire.
Virtually all of England’s current Premier League and Championship teams are represented so it doesn’t matter which club you support, there will be something there for you. Perhaps the one that most of our readers will find is their favourite is the 1972 Leeds Utd vs Arsenal FA Cup Final match programme and trophy that Leeds won 1-0. The only goal scored was by Alan Clarke and his match worn shirt also forms part of the display. It was in that same year that the famous Leeds song Marching On Together was first heard in the stands.
The museum is also home to some relics from international stars and the giant Michael Jackson statue that once stood at Craven Cottage. There is even a latex puppet of manager Jose Mourinho from the comedy show Special One TV and Spitting Image puppets including Terry Venables and Eric Cantona. One full floor is dedicated to a photography exhibition showing 30 years through the lens of renowned football photographer Stuart Roy Clarke, showing the visual impact of the game too.
The National Football Museum is well worth a trip across the Pennines whether you are a football fan, history lover or both, and a visit to the shop and Café Football for a bite to eat round off your day nicely.
Visit www.nationalfootballmuseum.com for opening times and admission prices.