Pickles, the referee football mascot puppet, tells exciting stories in the Discovery Zone and there are things to touch and do
Pickles, the referee football mascot puppet, tells exciting stories in the Discovery Zone and there are things to touch and do
Dress up in the locker room
Dress up in the locker room

The National Football Museum

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The National Football Museum’s challenge was to find the hook to excite Kids in Museums volunteer, Caroline Marcus, about football. Although born and bred in Manchester, ‘the beautiful game’ had never appealed.

Displays are aimed at non-football fans because football fans will visit anyway. Every object tells a people-centred story such as football stars shown as kids, inspiring today’s hopefuls to follow their dream. Discover more about the true story of Pickles the dog that saved England from embarrassment in 1966. The trophy had been stolen but Pickles found the cup and became a hero. The display includes the real medal given to Pickles. Packed full of dazzling digital and non-digital interactives, you can hear the voice of famous BBC football commentator John Motson in the lift. Generally the museum is noisy due to the audio technology, however with so much to discover, this is quickly overlooked.

Exhibits range from terrace style and political movements to designer brands and high street ranges since the 1960s.This was a time when young footballers with disposable income became style leaders. I liked George Best’s fashion boutique and examining the clothes worn by ‘’footballer’s wives’’ including Victoria Beckham.

Issues such as football hooliganism are addressed sensitively. Within an intimate, film zone, complete with a real crush barrier, a short film explores the importance of health and safety standards. Entitled complacency is the enemy of safety, it was developed in consultation with the families of victims of football tragedies such as Hillsborough. It encourages visitors to reflect on difficult issues and enables quiet time for contemplation.

Toddlers can explore in the Discovery Zone where regular programmes are held including the popular under 5s storytelling using puppets and movement and baby move sessions. Kids’ friendly drop-in events including screen-printing scarves and creating hats; designing a football stadium inspired by the current exhibition and arts based workshops led by artists and poets and seasonal themed trails are available.

My favourite things included dressing up in the locker room and scratching and sniffing smelly socks; posing with the ‘’real’’ thing, the Premier League Cup and visiting the exhibition ‘Strike A Pose: 50 Years of Football and Fashion.’

I’ll be going back with my family to discover more. This museum successfully champions football and has succeeded in changing my perception. Football is a beautiful game after all.

Entry to the museum and exhibition is free.

Strike A Pose: 50 Years of Football & Fashion’ exhibition runs until 27 August http://web.archive.org/web/20150627083743/http://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com/whats-on/event/2013/strike-a-pose-50-years-of-football-and-fashion/01-02-13/

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