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National Football Museum

Submitted by on July 4, 2012 – 11:17 pmNo Comment

The National Football Museum opens on Friday in Urbis.  As you know it was situated in Preston at Deepdale, which sounds like a place where Hobbits live. Whereas Urbis makes me think of a great spiralling vortex sucking all life and matter for millions of light years, consuming it in a gigantuous act of imploding destruction. But it ain’t, it is a rather sad little building that no-one really wants.

At first it was an urban museum, not so much a museum as a place to poke your eyes out. Urbis is a far better place for a museum of footballing given its long history of football. As opposed to Preston North End which is only one of the oldest football clubs in the world.

Having jibbed into the pre-pre-opening night with my able conspirator, a well-known keeper of learned books, I was greeted by an illuminated image of Eric. It made me feel very congenial towards this new museum of national football. I was also feeling pretty pleased with myself that I’d jibbed in and was being offered glasses of wine and beer. Pity it was a work night, but that didn’t stop me eating as much food as I could from the free food buffet.

Once Eric had dissolved into translucentness he was replaced by another footballing notable from the past. This Tokyo-like display of bling advertising the world of the iconic footballer from the past horseshoed around you leaving plenty of space for wedding receptions and other social gatherings, we were informed in the opening speech. This dragged on, listing every single person that had ever lived or who had given money to the free museum. This museum is free to enter, the emphasis on enter, but don’t worry there are plenty of things you have to pay for. Doing a live commentary, being filmed and having it shown back to you was great fun. You can also get your copy of your commentary online and send it to your mum or kids. You pay for this and many other like-minded entertainments.

They have got hold of the minutes of the first meeting of the FA in 1863, which set out the rules of football. It clearly states that ‘ A Place Kick is a kick at the ball while it is on the ground in any position which the kicker may choose to place it’ or ‘A Fair Catch is when the ball is caught after it has touched the person of an adversary…or thrown by an adversary’ puts the Hand of God into perspective. It goes on to say that the teams should change ends after each goal.

It was exciting to see how the game had changed through the years, both technically and theoretically. One display shows a timeline of the development of formations, starting way back in 1870 when manager Charles Alcock played 1 – 1 – 8, why fuck about just play 0 – 0 – 10.

In 1867 the Routledge handbook of football tells us, ‘it is a good plan…to have one side with striped jerseys of one colour say red; and the other with another say blue. This prevents confusion and wild attempts to wrest the ball from your neighbour.’

I was one of a small cohort of people that had visited the museum before the celebrities and football acolytes. When they go it would have already been sullied by the plebs. There is even a space for FC United of Manchester, fan-owned clubs, small but significant.

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