Thursday, 10 January 2013

03 January 2013 - The National Football Museum : Manchester

Our second "guest" to write for "No Clash Of Colours" is Manchester based primary school teacher, Claire Warner.  Mum to three beautiful girls, she describes herself as an eye rolling daughter and sister of fanatical, lifetime City supporters, Claire is usually entertained by classical literature and indie music, citing many Manchester based bands as her all time favourites. This was her first, but not her last visit to The National Football Museum.  


Okay, so the day has arrived – excited about being off work and spending a day with my friend, however am also massively apprehensive about the venue. What am I thinking? Me at the National Football Museum? Don’t I dislike the game having been dragged up with it? Still, I am a modern woman with an open mind. 

A good start – friendly, passionate guy on the desk. He knows his stuff and reels off all the museum has to offer without being pushy. Taking it very slowly my friend decides I might need a coffee before we begin our tour. I enjoy a drink whilst watching the people of Manchester passing me by. I am slightly in awe of the space I find myself in – a large, open, calm place every bit the 21st century building, yet full of a "certain something" making it feel warm and homely (you girls out there will understand the importance of this). Refreshed and inspired by "my city" and my enthusiastic friend, the time has come to go look around!

"Real Women"
Up an impressive staircase, unable to take my eyes off the people and displays around me. All ages, races, genders, are here and every man, woman and child has a smile – it’s catching! We reach the 3rd floor, one of the main reasons that we are here, a photographic exhibit and my friend is gone!

Walking in the other direction to him. I am drawn to a set of stunning photographs of real women dressed in their “Sunday best”, complete with stilettos, adopting the confident/arrogant poses of footballers assuming their position on the pitch in front of goal! I am absorbed immediately by the imagery and the strength of the women portrayed. Not the women behind the footballers necessarily just the women behind the football!  As I continue my journey around this one room I am wondering why I had been apprehensive – this is simply what we girls do best – this is people watching and the opportunity to study/imagine the stories behind the photos!

Into the next room – ah here we go – the “football” bit. Am I about to slowly die a little bit inside? Not for a second – wow!!! I am a little lost for words and that never happens!!!! More amazing photographs and yes they have footballers/grounds/fans in them but they are simply telling an amazing social story and are so much more than the usual images of football that we are bombarded with in the press. I look and look again lost completely in the pictures of real people sharing a passion and living a life. I listen to fathers telling their kids stories about their own experiences linked to different photographs, guys telling their girls about the day they were at that particular game, people recognising where they live and everywhere around me people are chatting and smiling and sharing a great experience. Strangers get into conversations about people, places and events and I cannot get enough of it. I realise perhaps for the first time why my dad and my brother talk the way they do about their beloved Manchester City. 

On the way down to the next level I get sidetracked by images of the celebrations enjoyed by the City fans last year – tiny babies, old men, children, women, able bodied, disabled, black, brown, white (but mainly blue) faces full of love, passion, pride, belief! I get a flutter in my stomach – the pride of Manchester. I am proud that we are home to a great place like this that really brings together the whole of society!

Level 2 is selling it to me even more. The teacher in me comes out as I observe the amount and range of interactive, multi sensory displays available for children (and adults). Without a doubt the best way to engage people and encourage their learning is to let them experience it for themselves. This is happening in abundance. I am laughing as I watch entire families having a go at penalty shoot outs, understanding the “offside” rule and generally getting to grips with the great game. 

I am touched by a young boy sat alone amidst the fun and frivolity, totally absorbed in a film that I have no doubt he is going to remember for the rest of his life.  

Bobby Moore
I get to really appreciate that history holds the key to why and how we are where we are now whatever the subject matter. Personal memorabilia of the famous and the man or woman on the street give a fascinating insight into how far technology, medicine and social understanding has come. I am also getting to really understand football and its place in society – a much needed lesson for me in tolerance and acceptance of all those things that are important to others. A walk through time raises smiles and eyebrows. Teams from all walks of life are represented and given the space and platform they so deserve. Tales from years ago tell of people’s commitment and compassion, their pride, their challenges, their glory moments and their all time lows.

Ernest "Nudger" Needham endorses "Badger Footballs" in 1902
Here at the National Football Museum there is so much to see and experience that I am certain every single person in the building has had a truly great time. I have travelled through the whole gamut of emotions today and I have learnt an awful lot about football and about people. I personally have had a blast and will definitely return in the future with my three daughters and will also tell my dad and my brother to come. I will insist that my friends bring their children and will be highly recommending the Museum to my KS2 counterparts at school as a perfect venue for a stimulating and fun educational visit.

Several hours later I am quite sad to be leaving. I am pleased to have both an open mind and a passionate friend as without them I would never have experienced the National Football Museum. One of the most interesting and enjoyable days out in a long time. In my day job I preach about lifelong learning and today I have realised why. 

All I have left to say is go see for yourselves – you won’t be disappointed!


National Football Museum
Urbis Building
Cathedral Gardens
M4 3BG

Mon - Sat = 10.00 : 17.00
Sun = 11.00 :17.00

Admission - Free


Additional Photography
Courtesy of the Author
Click On Any Image To Begin A Slideshow



  1. "Excellent Feature" ...
    Rob Hornby - via #twitter

  2. Quality read that. Should get myself over to Manchester and have a look.

    David Patterson (Cleethorpes Town Chairman)
    via #twitter

  3. "Really great article, so happy visitors like Claire can come here to learn about the roots and social impact of the game."

    National Football Museum
    via twitter