If there is something that Brits are truly obsessed about, then it’s not the tea or even the standard weather conversations („- This is miserable. - Indeed. Fancy a cuppa?”). Their real obsession is football. In the middle of the city, which is already dominated by the footy fans and their two great teams, there is a real football gem: National Football Museum. Right next to the famous Printworks and beside two big malls, there is a funny looking, slim and tall building that now has 4 floors of football madness. We decided to explore what this place is really all about and there was no disappointment!
The best thing is that it’s for everyone. Are you a serious fan and want to find out more about the history of this sport? Learn some fan facts? You won’t be let down. Do you just want to spend some quality time with your kids? If so, it’s the best choice as Museum is perfectly prepared for youngsters to visit. It’s fully interactive and on each floor there are plenty of games to engage the children. Since the Museum is all about the sport, the active indoor games are the must!
The building itself, even from the inside, makes a great impression. Looking up you see the floors shaped similarly to the layers of a birthday cake. The biggest space is on the ground level, where by the main entrance you can find all the information, see what’s on, buy some souvenirs or have a cup of tea(!). One important thing is that since the Museum works as a charity, the entrance is free. However, any donation are considered to be a nice gesture. Standard 6 pounds donation permits you to take a photo with the old league trophies, which is apparently a big deal if you are a serious fan. You even get to touch the precious cups, though only wearing special white gloves. On the ground floor there is also a Hall of Fame, where every year the new members are inducted out of the greatest English players, managers and teams.
When going up to the first floor, you enter the true mine of football history. You start your journey from the very beginning, when its first laws were introduced back in 1863. There is even a little sculpture by Pablo Picasso to show that football was present in everyone’s life. After „The Game” section, the Museum gives a specific nod towards these that the sport would not exist without - the fans. The display shows how it was to be a supporter back in the days. What’s even more valuable it also tells about the hooligans and their evil actions.
The next exhibit focuses on the competition part and gets you engaged in all the leagues, cups and trophies facts. If you are a supporter of a specific (but British) team, then you can track its league history. This part is pretty interactive and it sure is fun for adults as well as for kids. Following the Museum route, you go from the sort of domestic football atmosphere to the development of World Football and how it became a real phenomenon. There is also a whole display devoted to the team cathedrals—the stadiums—which you can explore.
When football converted into a real national obsession, the media started to seriously participate in players and managers’ life. At times it was up to the „fourth plinth” to help or destroy certain teams or team’s members. The way media covered the games has been changing as much as the game itself and you can discover it within this part of the exhibition. This leads you to a section which is all about the players, who quickly became idols or big public enemies. There is also a special part only about clubs, exploring their origins and development. So much information and it’s only first floor! On the first level, there is also an immersive cinema space where you can watch a pretty good short film about a month in the life of an English football. It’s also good to give your legs a little break.
The second floor is all about the experience. There are different zones where you can check your footy skills, your reflex or different abilities such as „how many shots you can stop in a minute”. There is an opportunity to actually get to know all sort of football-based games, finishing with FIFA as the different indoors and outdoors alternation are as old as the football law itself. There is a special option to try yourself at penalty shoot, to check if you are the pass master or have „You Are The Ref!” challenge. Apart from the games there are several displays focused on football laws and how they were shaping, footballer’s kit and the world leagues.
On the third level, there is a space for temporary exhibitions. We were lucky to visit the Museum while it was featuring „Pele: Art, Life, Football” (which is going to close on the 4th of March 2018), where even Andy Warhol’s work presents one of the greatest footballers in history. The fourth floor is the learning zone, where school kids can have their special events organized.
On the top of the Museum „cake”, the 5th and 6th floors, there is a real cherry. A Michelin star chef Michael O’Hare opened a restaurant called „The Rabbit in the Moon”. It’s for one of those who would like to taste a bit of the fancy lifestyle that some of the best footballers enjoy.
It’s hard to describe the experience of the Football Museum simply because it just gives you so many incentives. It stimulates your brain and encourage to do a bit of exercise at the same time. Most of all it’s a great fun for everyone. It’s a definite must when you’re in good old Manchester!