Easily rivalling Birmingham as England’s ‘second capital’, Manchester really does have everything going for it. So it is fitting that the North West is also the home of The National Football Museum.
Once tarnished with the image of a tired industrial landscape, the North West city is now completely revitalised.
Recognised as the original modern city, Manchester is the birthplace of the computer and the industrial revolution, is a European business capital, and a vibrant multicultural city where students of all races and religions converge.
Of course, one of the city’s key selling points is its connections to sport, particularly football, and its main clubs, Manchester City and Manchester United, are two of the world’s biggest and most popular.
Based in the Urbis building, in Manchester city centre, The National Football Museum shares 150 years of football heritage with important collections of memorabilia and welcomes more than 300,000 visitors a year.
What’s on display at The National Football Museum?
Over 140,000 items of memorabilia are held by the museum, with around 2,500 on display for tourists, locals and football-fanatic visitors to see at any one time.
Spread over four floors, some of the most notable items are:
• Both of the balls that were used in the first-ever World Cup Final in 1930
• The ball from the 1966 World Cup Final – won by England, of course!
• The replica version of the Jules Rimet Trophy, which was paraded by the England players at the World Cup Final in 1966 – this was made in secret by the FA in 1966 after the original was infamously stolen
• The England captain’s jersey and cap from the world’s first official international football match, Scotland vs England in 1872
• The world’s oldest women’s football kit, from the 1890s
• The shirt worn by Argentina’s Diego Maradona during the game in which he scored the notorious ‘Hand of God’ goal against England
• The original rules of Association Football, which were written when The Football Association was formed in 1863 in the Freemasons Tavern, London.
On level one, you can also find out more about the country’s football stadiums, including their designs, with an original turnstile from the old Wembley Stadium and some original wooden seats.
Various bits of footage and newspaper clippings from old matches are also on display alongside, of course, the famous sheepskin coat worn by legendary commentator John Motson. Here, visitors can research most league clubs in England via the interactive screens.
A number of paid-for interactive football games can be found on level two, as well as audio clips from managers and the original Manager of the Year trophy.
Level three is home to an ever-changing number of exhibitions, some of which have included the 50th anniversary of England’s World Cup triumph, ‘Saved for the Nation: The Story of the FA Cup’ and ‘The Greater Game: Football and The First World War’.
And you will find a delightful learning and education zone on the top level.
The museum was originally housed at Preston North End’s Deepdale stadium, until 2012.
The idea for what became the National Football Museum goes back to 1994 when Baxi Partnership, a Lancashire company, took ownership of Preston North End and began the redevelopment of Deepdale. FIFA had been looking for a permanent home for the FIFA Museum Collection and a proposed museum as part of the redevelopment was seen as the answer.
Despite some notable endorsements from the likes of former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, funding was always an issue and there was concern over its future.
However, a successful offer from Manchester City Council meant suitable funding could be agreed and the Urbis was selected as its new home. Deepdale remains a research and storage centre for the museum.
Admission to the National Football Museum
Admission to the National Football museum, which is open 10am-5pm every day, is free (Get in! … Back of the net!)
However, as a registered charity it welcomes donations to support its work and offers a package for any visitor who donates £6. In return, you get a visitor guide, two Football Plus+ credits (where you can see and share your scores from the various activities), the chance to take your photo with some of the most famous trophies and, during the week, a 40-minute guided tour.
For more information, visit http://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com/