If there is only one museum that you intend to visit this year....., WELL, THIS IS IT...The National Football Museum, which re-opened a few days ago in Manchester.
Actually it moved from Deepdale, the home of Preston North End to URBIS, a splendid modern building in the centre of Manchester and across a grass square from the cathedral. It has been closed for two years, but is about four times the size of the original. www.nationalfootballmuseum.com
The Preston location was difficult to get to, and although I visited a dozen times and loved THE SPLASH, the magnificent Tom Finney statue outside, the numbers were never great, and if it had stayed there it would have eventually closed.
What I noticed on my visit yesterday was how convenient the new location is. A two minute walk from Victoria station and 10 minutes from Piccadilly, and there were lots of local workers using their lunch break for a quick uplifting football tonic. I would not be suprised to see 500,000 visitors pass through the turnstiles-yes they have those at the entrance, five times the best year at its former location...and I expect LOTS of repeat visitors, including myself.
I have been to football museums in Oslo, Rio de Janiero, Montevideo, Barcelona, Milan, Cape Town, Liverpool, New York State and more, and this is far and away the tops. AND ITS FREE!!!. With so many visitors to the city to watch United at The Theatre of Dreams, and City at The Etihad-both of which have tours -its going to be THE PLACE TO BE.
Something for all ages. The Ground Floor is THE HALL OF FAME, with exhibits of heroes and legends of the game. Level 1 up the escalator is OUR BEAUTIFUL GAME from Sheffield FC, the world's first football club in 1857, to the formation of The Football Association in 1863, and the world wide growth of clubs, leagues, cup competitions and the international game.
Level 2 features YOU ARE THE REF, the Paul Trevillion and Keith Hackett cult classic strip weekly in The Observer and the books and cards. Also THE TREATMENT TABLE, diet, training, medicine and training.
Above that we have THE HOMES OF FOOTBALL, photos from Stuart Roy Clarke, plus FOOTBALL AND ART IN WEST AFRICA, which is one of the ever changing temporary exhibits. On all levels there are lots of knobs, buttons, bells to twist, flick and press to test your mind and fun for all. Lots of videos, slide shows, music, chants,cheers and the roar of the crowd. It was great to see such a cross section of visitors.
We have a great souvenir shop with books, trinkets and a fine selection of post cards, where I had a chat with Ryan, who worked at the old location and still commutes from Preston. Kevin Moore is the Director, as he was at Deepdale. Next door is an inexpensive cafe-lunch for 4 pounds, and at the top with its stunning views, a restaurant, KALEIDO, run by a chap from Szczecin, Poland, where I once went to four matches in four divisions in one day, including Pogon Szczecin, and even higher a bar up the stairs.
Round the corner are great shops, restaurants, clubs and pubs, Arndale Shopping Centre, and with Manchester's light rail system and free city centre shuttle bus, easy-peasy to get around. We also have Imperial War Museum North, The Museum of Science and Industry, with the world's oldest surviving railway station, People's History Museum(dinosaurs, mummies, live animals), Manchester Museum, Chinatown...
Bring your camera, wear your club scarves, and ENJOY A FAB DAY OUT.