Jules Rimet still gleaming – On Saturday July 30th it will have been fifty years since England captain Bobby Moore wiped his hands before collecting the Jules Rimet Trophy from Queen Elizabeth at the old Wembley Stadium after beating West Germany by 4-2 after an exciting period of extra time. Can it really have been fifty years?
I was a twelve-year-old schoolboy who up until that point had shown very little interest in football but the excitement of the World Cup grabbed my enthusiasm and I was hooked. At the start of the new season I joined a group of my school friends and got the bus to Birmingham to watch Aston Villa take on Chelsea for my first ever football match. The Witton Road End of Villa Park was still an open terrace at the time but what an introduction to professional football I had that day! Chelsea beat the `Villans` by 6-2 with the legendary `Blues` striker Bobby Tambling scoring five goals and Tony Hateley grabbing a couple for Villa.
Football has moved on in many ways over the last fifty years and many of these changes are illustrated at the superb National Football Museum in Manchester.The Museum is free to enter but visitors are encouraged to donate £3 in return for photographs with the Premier League and FA Cup Trophies, of course I could not turn down that opportunity! There is also a wall listing the players, managers and teams who have been inducted into the Museums Hall of Fame. I was very pleased to see my favourite ever footballer and in my opinion England`s greatest ever striker Jimmy Greaves had been inducted fourteen years ago (2002).
The Museum is packed full of historical memorabilia including the match ball used during that memorable 1966 World Cup final. I discovered whilst watching a `hologram` of hat trick hero Geoff Hurst talking with Gary Lineker that Hurst hadn’t realised that his third goal and England`s fourth had stood until he looked up at the score board later. He thought the referee had blown for full time before the ball had hit the net. German playmaker Helmut Haller, scorer of their first goal claimed the match ball and it was thirty years later before it was presented to Hurst by Haller as the rightful recipient of the ball. You can also look at the `Hand of God` shirt worn by Argentinian master Diego Maradona for the 1986 World Cup quarter-final against England but I couldn`t bring myself to look at it!
The Museum has a wide range of World cup memorabilia to indulge both young and older football supporters. Squad player George Eastham`s red `World Cup` squad shirt is on display, World Cup Willie mugs, badges and posters, match day programmes and posters plus the Jules Rimet Trophy itself makes for an unforgettable day out.
`Our beautiful game` is a fantastic short film shown in the museums immersive cinema space which chronicles a month in the life of English football and should not be missed! Playing every fifteen minutes the cinema photography is brilliant with plenty of stunning images and the sounds of the game I fell in love with. This absorbing presentation reflects the game being played at every level, of every age, gender, race, ability and religion. Wonderfully refreshing!
The Museum offers plenty of photo opportunities including having your photograph with Pele dressed in his full Brazilian kit or you could pay homage to the `King of Pop` Michael Jackson! The statue which stood outside Fulham`s Craven Cottage for several years was donated to the Museum after Chairman Mohammed Al-Fayed sold the club.
Although the Museum exhibits present a comprehensive collection of facts, information and social history of the development of the game across Britain and the globe it is also a delightful experience for young gamers and those who prefer a much more interactive experience. Level Two contains a wide range of activities for young and older visitors to demonstrate their ability and knowledge of the game. Prove yourself as a pass master, beat the keeper form the penalty spot, stop as many shots as you can or demonstrate your ability to switch defence to attack with short accurate passes! You can also Immerse yourself in the playable history of football video games in a unique, interactive exhibition on level Three if you are so inclined.
I spent a fantastic three hours inside the Museum and am already planning to return because there is so much to see. I could have spent an hour in the gift shop as there was so much to look at but my feet were beginning to ache and a cup of tea had my name on it at the café.
I will definitely return perhaps to commemorate England`s finest hour in July!
James William Davis
National Football Museum
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 10am-5pm
Telephone number: 0161 605 8200
Facebook: National Football Museum
Closed: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day.