“What You Think You Know About Football is Wrong”: Book reviews!

I am delighted with the very positive reviews of my latest book, What You Think You Know About Football is Wrong: The Global Game’s Greatest Myths and Untruths, published by Bloomsbury. Many thanks indeed to all those who have taken the time to write reviews.

The book is available from all good book sellers, including Amazon:


There is also an audio version on Audible!


I thought it was time to reflect on the reviews I have seen so far, all in one place! While I am very pleased and grateful for them all, I particularly enjoyed the phrases:

“If there could be a soccer book that’s a “beach read,” this is it.”

“the fabulous starting point and source of debate for fans as they travel to and from games, or indeed pre and post-match with a pint.”

“A great book to dip into with a cup of tea!”

And from Paul Trevillion: “Every football home should have a copy!!!”

Reviews to date:

“A delightful, entertaining and easy read that can add new elements to old soccer debates….. If there could be a soccer book that’s a “beach read,” this is it.”


“Packed with fascinating nuggets of football history combined with insights as to why much of football’s perceived wisdom is nonsense. A great book to dip into with a cup of tea!”


“This is a book which peels back the skin of some football’s most beloved stories and reveals them to be just that: stories. But more than that, ‘What You Think You Know About Football Is Wrong’ is a masterful exploration of the uses and abuses of football history which displays both a great knowledge and a deep love of the game.’

Tony Collins, Emeritus Professor of History at De Montfort University

“The former director of the National Football Museum Kevin Moore has produced a challenging and revelatory new book which debunks many of the myths and assumptions about football.”


“In 50 short chapters Moore shatters many of the strongly held beliefs of football fans. His entertaining commentary is generally supported with hard facts and statistics He zips through the long list of revelations and we have to reassess many of our own assumptions.”


“That’s what is so good about this book as it challenges many of those long held and preconceived beliefs about football. It would be a worthwhile addition to any football fan’s library.”

Ian Aspinall, latetacklemagazine.com

“What You Think You Know About Football is Wrong: The Global Game’s Greatest Myths and Untruths, is a wonderful pocket-sized compendium which pulls no punches in debunking fifty of football’s ‘facts’ that have become down the years entwinned as ‘truths’ by the media, fans and the like.

Overall, it is a real pick-up, put-down book, one intended to, and without doubt succeeds in, creating discussion which can be the fabulous starting point and source of debate for fans as they travel to and from games, or indeed pre and post-match with a pint.”


“Kevin Moore …knows his football and has published this short, entertaining book aimed at the fan and the general reader, but there will be few scholars who will not learn something from his engaging, iconoclastic demolition of many cherished beliefs about the game.”

Roy Hay, Deakin University & Sports and Editorial Services Australia in Soccer and Society

“It was a good change of pace to not have an author bend over backwards to justify a position. Dr Moore’s style of making his argument and succinctly explaining why made for a quick, good read.”


“Written by Kevin Moore, the founding director of the National Football Museum (the world’s leading football museum), this thoroughly researched and authoritative book debunks 50 of the greatest myths surrounding football.

While it’s backed up by the highest level of academic research, it’s written in an accessible style, that makes it a decent quick read.”


“Just the book for footy fans to buy and read so they can use Moore’s material to tell their soccer friends that their cherished beliefs are nearly all wrong. The book for one-upmanship for Father’s Day.”


“Now if you’re going to title your book with such a bold declaration you better know your football. Well thankfully that’s not an issue when you learn the author of this fascinating book is a world-respected football historian.

Such a distinguished CV is evident to see as he debunks many of the game’s myths in this tremendous pocket-sized book.

The attention to detail and sheer variety of the 50 myths exposed make for an entertaining read. Alongside uncovering these untruths, the reader is provided a thorough history lesson. The author goes from past, to present and interestingly, into the future.

Ultimately the title of this book is correct. I was wrong. And I actually enjoyed being told so!”


“Every football home should have a  copy!!!”

Paul Trevillion

There is great football art!

C.R.W. Nevinson, Any Wintry Afternoon in England, (1930).

I have made the case in my latest book, ‘What You Think You Know About Football is Wrong: The Global Game’s Greatest Myths and Untruths’, that the widely held view, that there are no great films about football, is a myth. And just as there are great football films, there is great football art – and literature and poetry. Football  (erroneously, as I make clear in another chapter in my book), has tended to be viewed as a lower-class sport. The widespread, indeed dominant view, is that it’s not high culture, it’s low, popular culture. Therefore, it would come as a complete surprise to most fans that outstanding artists, writers, playwrights and poets have been interested in the game and have reflected this in their work, or indeed made football their central subject matter. But they have.

Artists who have created football works include Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Umberto Boccioni, John Singer Sargent, Eric Gill, L.S. Lowry, C.R.W. Nevinson, Paul Nash, Sybil Andrews, Peter Blake, Nicolas de Staël, Henri Rousseau, John Heartfield, Ithell Colquhoun, David Hockney, Joan Miró and Banksy. And my favourite football artist – Paul Trevillion, ‘the master of movement’! Many more internationally acclaimed and respected artists could be added. There are academics researching and writing about this subject, such as Mike O’Mahony and John Hughson.

Pablo Picasso, Le Footballeur (1965)

All fans know there are a huge number of football books, but most are thought to be little more than quickly produced diaries of a season, or ghosted autobiographies of famous players, often brought out from far too early in their careers. And there are over-detailed club histories for almost every club, at all levels, for the obsessives. But there is high-quality academic writing on football, from a wide range of disciplines, excellent football prose, many fine short stories, and over a thousand football novels, some of which are of a very high standard. Authors on football include – and this is just the British – J.B. Priestley, P.G. Wodehouse, Barry Hines, David Peace, Alan Sillitoe, Bill Naughton, George Orwell and Nick Hornby. There have been two winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature who were heavily influenced by football. For Albert Camus: ‘All that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football.’ According to Gabriel García Márquez: ‘My first journey into real life was the discovery of football.’

Poets on football include, from just Britain: Sir Walter Scott, Wilfred Owen, A.E. Housman, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Roger McGough, Fiona Pitt-Kethley and Carol Ann Duffy. Playwrights on football include Harold Brighouse, Patrick Marber, Tom Stoppard and last but not least, albeit very briefly, William Shakespeare, who will have undoubtedly seen street football in both Stratford-upon-Avon and London, and may even have played. In The Comedy of Errors, the slave Dromio complains of his treatment by his masters like this: ‘Am I so round with you as you with me, That like a football you do spurn me thus? You spurn me hence, and he will spurn me hither. If I last in this service, you must case me in leather.’

Paul Nash, You Can Be Sure of Shell, Footballers Prefer Shell, (1935).

Some of this football writing may have reached a wider audience, but the fact that so many great artists have engaged with football seems to have been forgotten. Apart from at the National Football Museum for England in Manchester, you don’t see many of these artworks in mainstream galleries, even though they are held in storage in their collections, behind the scenes. It’s almost as if football is an embarrassment to the art world, something that should remain hidden. It’s a reaction to the global cultural power of football, which irritates many people in the cultural elite. They don’t like the fact that football seems to get everywhere.

At the official opening of the National Football Museum for England in 2012, of which I was then the CEO, a guest asked me if I would like to put on display a Picasso sculpture, called ‘The Footballer’. Of course, I said ‘yes!’ very emphatically on the sport! This became the first item on display that visitors saw as they enter the museum’s galleries. Visitors reacted with enormous surprise – who knew Picasso was a football fan or produced a number of football artworks? – but with great pleasure and interest. Many visitors – and not just the children! – tried to mimic the stance of the player in the sculpture.

Ithell Colquhoun, Game Of The Year, 1953.

There is no aspect of culture that is immune from football, and indeed, all aspects of culture are enriched by engagement with the game. I haven’t even mentioned music! There is great football art, because football is such a powerful, global cultural force, touching the lives of almost everyone. Including Picasso.

50 Football Myths Revealed

I am delighted that Bloomsbury has published my latest book, “What You Think You Know About Football is Wrong: The Global Game’s Greatest Myths and Untruths”. Matt Lowing, Commissioning Editor at Bloomsbury Publishing, approached me about the possibility of a book about football, past and present, drawing on my experience as CEO of the National Football Museum for England for 20 years, and my academic research and writing on football. For further details: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/what-you-think-you-know-about-football-is-wrong-9781472955685/

I was thrilled that ‘Motty’, John Motson, OBE, ‘the voice of football’, and current leading BBC TV football commentator Guy Mowbray, both agreed to write Forewords to the book!

To whet your appetite, the 50 myths featured in the book are:

1. The ball did cross the line in the 1966 World Cup Final – and we knew this in 1966

2. Premier League players are not overpaid

3. Rugby could have been the global football game, rather than soccer

4. English fans do not care about the England team, and they never have done

5. FIFA does not make the rules, and never has

6. England did not win the World Cup fairly in 1966

7. British players can and have succeeded abroad

8. Soccer, and not American football, could have been the main winter sport in the USA

9. Most fans are not loyal to one club – they play the field

10. Black players are not new in English football

11. The English didn’t spread football to Brazil – it was the Germans

12. There‘s no such problem as scoring too early

13. Cambridge and not Sheffield is home to the world’s oldest football club

14. Arsenal should not be in the Premier League

15. Leicester City will never win the Premier League again

16. The Dynamo Kiev team were not executed after beating a German SS team in 1942

17. 2-0 is not the worst lead

18. Most football managers make no difference at all

19. Denis Law’s back-heel goal for Manchester City did not relegate Manchester United

20. Women’s football is not new

21. Penalty shoot-outs are a lottery

22. It will never be a global game – European countries will increasingly dominate the World Cup

23. Hooliganism is not, and never has been, a major problem in English football

24. Football shirt colours do matter

25. Africa is not, and never has been, a football backwater

26. English football has never been clean, cheating has always been part of it

27. England is not the centre of football, and for much of its history it’s been a backwater

28. The Germans do not always win on penalties

29. Home advantage is not as vital as we think – and its value is declining

30. It’s science, not artistry, that made the Brazilians the best at football

31. The World Cup has always been controversial

32. There are gay footballers – and there always have been

33. The FA did not ban women’s football in 1921

34. Football hooliganism is not the ‘English disease’

35. Footballers singing their national anthem does matter

36. The FIFA World Cup has not always been the most important international competition

37. The prawn sandwich brigade is not new

38. The Chinese did invent football

39. Women’s soccer has never been more important than men’s soccer in the USA

40. It will not be too hot to play football in Qatar

41. It’s not a game of two halves

42. Wembley is not a world-class stadium, and never has been

43. Disabled players are not new – they have always been part of the game

44. England will never win the World Cup again

45. Football in India is not new – and has a greater tradition than cricket

46. The Zaire player in that World Cup moment did know the rules – he was in fear of his life

47. There are great football films

48. The Premier League is not exciting – it’s increasingly dull and predictable

49. Sir Alex Ferguson is not the greatest ever manager in English football

50. Association football will not last forever

Behind the Scenes at a Royal Visit: Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, at the National Football Museum

HRH Prince William scores a penalty at the National Football Museum!

By October 2016 the National Football Museum in Manchester had welcomed over 2 million visitors. Each and every one of those visitors was highly important to us, they were all VIPs, and were treated as such. Yet there was one VIP in particular that we very much wished to welcome, who had not yet had a chance to visit, due to his hectic work schedule. That person was His Royal Highness, Prince William, the President of the Football Association, and a keen football fan!

I first met Prince William in 2013 at the Gala Dinner for the 150th anniversary of The Football Association, to which I was invited as the Director of the National Football Museum. Prince William was of course attending in his capacity as the President of the FA. Towards the end of the evening I noticed there was a lull in conversation between Prince William and the two people sat on either side of him, the then General Secretary of FIFA, Joseph S. Blatter, and the then President of UEFA, Michel Platini. I introduced myself to Prince William and he was very happy to talk. He said he would very much like to visit the National Football Museum when his diary permitted.

We kept in contact with the Prince’s officials through the office of the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester. An opportunity for Prince William to visit the Museum came as part of an official visit to Manchester on 14 October 2016. We were delighted to hear that Prince William was to be accompanied by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

The Royal couple arrive at the National Football Museum

The Lord-Lieutenant of course greeted the Duke and Duchess on their arrival and was the official host at the start of the visit. When they were introduced to me, and my colleague Kevin Haygarth, the Duchess immediately put us at our ease, when she said she knew they were both going to very much enjoy their visit, because the nanny to their children had been to the Museum and said it was brilliant!

First, the Royal couple met young people from a number of youth projects across Greater Manchester, many already connected with the Museum, and some that were using the power of football for community engagement and social inclusion. Kevin Haygarth and I then took the Royal couple on a tour of the Museum’s displays, making sure to point out items relating to Aston Villa,  given that Prince William is a fan! As Aston Villa was a founder member of the Football League, and has a long and proud history, there was plenty to see. Prince William very much wanted to take penalties on the Museum’s full-size penalty shootout, with a virtual goalkeeper, which has the goal posts and crossbar from the UEFA Euro ‘96 tournament at Wembley Stadium. We had arranged for two members of the England women’s team, Steph Houghton and Jill Scott, who both also played for Manchester City, to meet the Royal couple and to take penalties with Prince William. Given his strong support for women’s football, the Prince already knew them well. Prince William took three very impressive and powerful penalties and clearly enjoyed the experience!

At the time of the visit the Museum had a major temporary exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of England hosting the FIFA World Cup in 1966 and England’s victory. In the exhibition Prince William and Kate met with Roger Hunt, one of the England players who won the World Cup in 1966, and Rowan, his wife. We brought out from a showcase one of the outstanding artefacts in the exhibition, the ball from the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final. Prince William asked Roger about the 1966 World Cup Final and  both held the ball  – wearing white cotton gloves of course! They discussed how the leather ball from 1966 was so different to those of today, not least in getting heavier when conditions were wet. There was rain before the final in 1966, and the pitch was wet to begin with.

I showed some photographs I found in the collection to the Duke and Duchess, one featuring Prince Charles playing football as a boy, and another of Prince William playing football as a very young boy, which clearly kindled many memories. At the end of the visit we presented some gifts to the Royal couple, including a copy of a painting in the Museum’s collections, namely ‘Huddersfield Town footballer meets King George V’ by J. Higgs, 1933, George V being Prince William’s great-great-grandfather.

HRH Prince William, HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Dr. Kevin Moore

We were honoured and delighted by the visit of Prince William, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and  they clearly very much enjoyed the tour!

China and the UK: the Homes of Football, Ancient and Modern

23 October 2015. The National Football Museum for England, in Manchester, is to be greatly honoured by the visit of the President of the People’s Republic of China. I will be greeting him, as the Chief Executive of the Museum. Nervously but excitedly waiting for the President and the British Prime Minister to arrive, with just 5 minutes to go, I was given some new instructions. I was told the President did not wish the meeting to be too formal, that I should engage with the President as one football fan to another. I was of course aware that the President is a big fan of football!

Left to right: The President’s translator, Sheikh Khaldoon Al Mubarak Chairman of City Football Group, President of China Xi Jinping, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Dr Kevin Moore, CEO of the National Football Museum

When the President arrived the first thing I said to him was that the English had invented the modern game of football, Association football, or soccer, in 1863. However, I knew that the Chinese had invented the first game of football, Cuju, over 2,000 years ago! I was told afterwards that the President was very pleased to hear these words from me, as I was the first person during his State Visit to the UK to recognise this unique historic significance of football in China.

I showed the President three outstanding items from the collections of the National Football Museum. First, the original Minute Book of the English Football Association, with the first hand written laws of Association football, from 1863. Second, a ball from the very first FIFA World Cup final in 1930, when Uruguay beat Argentina 4 goals to 2.  I explained that the two teams could not agree which ball to use, as each country used a ball with a different design. The FIFA officials set a compromise, and an Argentinian ball was used in the first half. This ended  Uruguay 1 Argentina 2. When a Uruguayan ball was used in the second half, Uruguay scored 3 goals to win 4-2.  Third, I showed to the President the perfect replica of the Jules Rimet trophy made in secret by the English FA in 1966, when the original trophy was stolen, during the build up to the FIFA World Cup in England in 1966.

The President then presented to me a gift for the National Football Museum, a replica of a ball used in the ancient Chinese football game of Cuju. I now realised that it had been highly appropriate for me to recognise the importance of Cuju in my very first words to the President!  I presented to the President a gift from the Museum, a replica of the FA’s first Minute Book from 1863, which is the DNA of modern football.

The President moved on to meet Paul Dermody OBE, the Chairman of the National Football Museum, and former Manchester United player Gary Neville.  The President then gave a special National Football Museum Hall of Fame award to Sun Jihai, in recognition of the fact that he had been, to date, the most outstanding Chinese player in the English Premier League, at Manchester City.  But maybe there will be a new Chinese star in the Premier League soon. The President then had a tour of Manchester City and famously agreed to a ‘selfie’ with leading City player Sergio Aguero!

At the end of the visit I said to the President that our two countries had unique roles in the history of football, as China was the birthplace of the first game of football, Cuju, and the UK was the birthplace of the modern game of football. The President said that he would very much like to see a cultural exchange between our two countries develop through football. As a result, the National Football Museum has developed a partnership with the Linzi Football Museum, Zibo, China, which is the excellent Chinese Football Museum, with displays on the ancient game of Cuju and modern football in China.

Cultural exchange through football

23rd October 2016. Exactly one year after the President’s visit. I and a number of UK professors, who are experts on the history of football, have been invited to take part in the prestigious First World Football Culture Summit at the Linzi Football Museum in Zibo. This was the next major step in our cultural exchange through football.

The Chinese developed the first major game of football over 2,000 years ago and the English invented the modern game 150 years ago. But now football belongs to the whole world …

International Museum Day 2020. Celebrating Our Museums: National Football Museum for England

National Football Museum for England

On International Museum Day 2020, in these challenging global times, we need to celebrate what is wonderful about our museums like never before, and the ways in which they encourage and enable equality, diversity and inclusion. Let’s just take one museum to celebrate, that is close to my heart, and was a very powerful exemplar and advocate in these terms, under my leadership. The National Football Museum for England used the power of football to reach diverse and inclusive audiences that other museums found difficult to reach, particularly in terms of social class and ethnicity.

I was the CEO of the National Football Museum from 1997 to 2017, leading its opening to the public, first in Preston in 2001, and then in Manchester in 2012. The Museum attracted millions of highly satisfied, very diverse visitors – over a half a million a year in Manchester. The National Football Museum was a highly international museum at this time, with visitors coming from over 150 countries.

The reaction of the public to the National Football Museum was extraordinary. The Museum was invited to join the UK’s Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) in 2013, and in 2014 was the UK’s highest rated attraction by visitors in the annual ALVA survey!

The national and international media wrote glowing reviews of the Museum, first in Preston, and then again in its new form in Manchester. As a celebration of the Museum, here is a sample of the national press reviews from the UK and overseas:

“It is a fantastic place. Yes, fantastic”.

The Times

‘The place is truly captivating… should become a place of pilgrimage for anyone with even the remotest interest in football … It is though you’d died and woken up in football heaven.’

The Daily Telegraph

‘The most extraordinary collection of memorabilia I have ever seen … Even those who profess to hate the sport will be captivated.’

 Independent on Sunday

‘If you think museums are musty, dusty old places, forget it. This one is a sheer delight, for fans of every age and persuasion… A football shrine to gladden the heart.’

Sunday Express

‘Sumptuously designed pictorial evidence …. The public will be hammering on the doors.’

The Independent

“I spent five hours, dazed by all the wonders, and can’t wait to go again.  It’s brilliant”.

The Mail on Sunday


The Times

… the marvellous National Football Museum … On one level, this is simply an unparalleled collection of football memorabilia. … But you really don’t have to know anything about football to enjoy the museum, since ‘the true story of the world’s greatest game’ is backed by fascinating print, film and sound material on football’s origins, its social importance, the experience of fans through the ages, and other relevant themes. Plus, there are some great interactive exhibits.

The Rough Guide to England


Daily Mirror.

‘The New National Football Museum hits the target’

Daily Express

‘The New National Football Museum in Manchester is World Class’

The Guardian

‘The People’s Game exhibits its heart’

The Independent

‘A new sports shrine in soccer’s birth country’

Washington Post

‘National Football Museum another triumphant display for Manchester.’

The Telegraph

 ‘You walk out into the triumphant Manchester spring feeling warmth, love even, towards football and its history, and convinced of Germaine Greer’s words, emblazoned on the wall, “Football counts as culture just as much as opera does.” ’

Tanya Aldred, The Telegraph

‘The best museum about the best game. Intriguing, captivating and a whole lot of fun, the Football Museum perfectly captures our shared sense of obsession. It is not just the game itself that is so celebrated here, it is our involvement in it: the spirit of the fan informs every inch of the place. Going to the museum is – almost – like seeing your team win the local derby in the last minute of added time. There is no greater compliment than that.”

Jim White, The Telegraph

But I leave the last words to three members of the public, out of millions of visitors to the Museum:

“The best time I have ever had in my life.” (Lewis, aged 11).

“Hate football. Love the Museum.”

“I would live here if I could!”

National Football Museum: 7 key measures of success

How do we measure success in a museum? This has long been a conundrum for museums, with shifting views through time, reflecting wider social and political agendas. I first grappled with this issue in the 1990s when I was a Lecturer in Museum Management and Marketing in the Department of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. Measures, both quantitative and qualitative, have become increasingly complex, leading museums to spend too much time measuring what they do, rather than simply doing it.

There is no question that the National Football Museum for England during my time as CEO, from 1997 to 2017, was an outstanding success. Let’s look at this through what I regard as the 7 key measures for any museum: collections; research; exhibitions; events; learning; inclusion; and impact.


Collections are the basis of any museum. When I joined the project to create the National Football Museum in 1997 there was almost no collection. When I left in 2017 the Museum held the greatest collections on football in the world, including the FIFA Collection. Acquisition of the FIFA Collection, in itself the greatest single historic football collection in the world, was the basis of the grant award of £9.3 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund (now the National Lottery Heritage Fund) to create the Museum in 2001. The collections grew greatly in size and quality in the following years. The outstanding national and international significance of the collections was recognised in 2013, when the collections were awarded Designation Status by Arts Council England. The National Football Museum was the youngest Museum to have its collections Designated. In 2016 we acquired the best collection in the world on the history of women’s football, the Chris Unger History of Women’s Football Collection, thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and lottery players.

The Jules Rimet trophy replica, made in secret in 1966…


The National Football Museum had a comparatively small curatorial team. Yet by working with a range of universities and academics, and securing funding from a wide range of sources, a great deal of high-quality research on the collections was undertaken. This included 17 fully funded PhD studentships. The Museum’s research partnership with the University of Central Lancashire, the International Football Institute (IFI), headed by Professor John Hughson, developed into a major international centre, with a very extensive range of publications.


The public face of the Museum, its exhibitions, received an outstanding reaction from the public, from academic reviews, and from the media. For its displays at both its original site in Preston and then at its new site in Manchester, the Museum reached the final shortlist for European Museum of the Year. The projected visitor target for the Museum in Manchester was 350,000 each year, but the Museum soon attracted over 500,000. We were invited to join the UK’s Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) in 2014, and became the UK’s highest rated attraction by visitors in the 2014 ALVA survey! The Museum also created and contributed to over thirty exhibitions in fifteen countries around the world, attracting an audience of over two million people.


The Museum developed a very exciting and inclusive programme of public events, working with a wide range of partners, ensuring that there was an event almost every day. Examples included: hosting the major Football v Homophobia conference in 2015; BBC Two’s Match of the Day: The Premier League Show filmed live; an evening with David Beckham;and Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.  

Gabby Logan presented the BBC TV Premier League Show from the National Football Museum


A bold and highly successful learning and community strategy used the power of football to reach audiences that most museums struggle to reach. From over 100 babies setting a world record for a football physical activity together, to a group of Asian heritage young women creating a film about the hidden history of women’s football, thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, to using football memories to help people with dementia, we sought to reach and engage with the widest possible audience, in new and imaginative ways.

The One Aim One Game project film premier


Under my leadership, the National Football Museum attracted a highly diverse audience. The percentage of working class visitors was higher than at any major museum in the country.  The Museum attracted all ages, including relatively hard to reach age groups, such as teenagers. The focus on the issues of racism, sexism and homophobia in the game in exhibitions, events and learning programmes, challenged stereotypes and brought new and diverse audiences. For example, the Museum held the world’s first exhibitions on BAME footballers in 2003 and women’s football in 2005. The Museum attracted visitors from over 150 countries.


In attracting over 500,000 visitors each year, the museum made a substantial contribution to the economy of Manchester. The was calculated at over £26 million each year, indirectly also creating hundreds of jobs. The Museum also made a considerable social impact, through, for example, the learning, health and wellbeing agendas.

Above all …

Above all, in my time as CEO the Museum attracted over 5 million highly satisfied visitors.

Their experience was not just in a celebration of the game, but from a critical standpoint, challenging visitors to consider what they thought and felt about the game, past and present, and how they could help to shape the game in the future.

The Man who Changed Football

The Leppings Lane terrace after the Hillsborough Stadium disaster, 1989. Lest we ever forget …

Few people have changed an entire sport for the better. Peter Murray Taylor, Baron Taylor of Gosforth Kt PC QC, did this – for British football.

Peter Taylor was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1930. He came from a Jewish family which had emigrated from Lithuania to the UK – the original family name was Teiger or Teicher. His father Louis, a doctor, was born in Leeds, to where the family had emigrated. Peter Taylor passed the 11-plus and attended the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle. During the Second War, the city was subject to bombing raids and Taylor was evacuated to Penrith. In 1951 Taylor won an exhibition to Pembroke College, Cambridge, to study law. He graduated in 1953 with an upper second class degree and then read for the Bar, being called in 1954. He chose to practise on the north-eastern circuit around Newcastle. A highly successful career followed. He became a High Court Judge in 1980 and in 1988 was promoted to the Court of Appeal. Became Lord Chief Justice in 1992, at the same time being created a life peer as Baron Taylor of Gosforth. He died in 1997 at the age of 66.

Taylor has a very distinguished career of public service. But perhaps his greatest service was the way in which his work led to the complete transformation of British football for the better, in terms of crowd safety and stadia. In the 1980s football was in decline, with falling gates and crumbling stadia. As a direct consequence of the ‘Taylor Report’ of 1990, the game has been rescued and transformed. 

15th April 1989. Liverpool versus Nottingham Forest in the semi-final of the FA Cup, being played at a neutral venue, Hillsborough Stadium, the ground of Sheffield Wednesday FC. 3.06pm. The game is halted. Liverpool fans are being crushed behind the fences at the Leppings Lane end of the Stadium. This is the Hillsborough disaster, the worst ever disaster at a British football ground, the worst in British sporting history. 96 Liverpool fans are killed in a crush, 766 are injured.

On 17 April 1989 Taylor was commissioned by the government to undertake an inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster. The Taylor Inquiry sat for a total of 31 days and published two reports: an interim report which laid out the events of the day and immediate conclusions, and the final report which outlined general recommendations on football ground safety. This became known as the Taylor Report.

Taylor concluded that “policing on 15 April broke down” and that “although there were other causes, the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control.” Sheffield Wednesday was criticised for the inadequate number of turnstiles at the Leppings Lane end and the poor quality of the crush barriers on the terraces, “respects in which failure by the Club contributed to this disaster.” Crucially, Taylor did not blame the Liverpool fans: “I do not consider choice of ends was causative of the disaster. Had it been reversed, the disaster could well have occurred in a similar manner but to Nottingham supporters”. Taylor concluded his criticism of South Yorkshire Police by describing senior officers in command as “defensive and evasive witnesses” who refused to accept any responsibility for their errors.

Front cover of the ‘Taylor report’, 1990

As we now know, however, there was a cover up by South Yorkshire Police, which meant that the Hillsborough families and their supporters have had to campaign for decades to obtain justice. In 2016, the second inquest into the deaths of the fans came to conclusions which Taylor had anticipated in 1990. Taylor was proven to have been right in his judgements. Football fans speak very positively about Taylor. Yet it took 26 years for the legal system to reach the same conclusion that he had.

While the Hillsborough families are still fighting for justice, the Taylor Report was largely implemented, and transformed the game for the better. It is arguably the most important document in the history of English Association football, after the handwritten first laws of the game from 1863. Taylor’s recommendations changed the safety at stadia immeasurably for the better, and changed the nature of the stadia, as modern, all-seater grounds became the norm, not the exception.

At the National Football in Manchester there is a section of the displays on stadia. At the heart of this is a film about Hillsborough and previous crowd disasters in British football and stadia safety.  Along with the images and film, there is no voice over, only the words on screen of Taylor. We decided that no one could explain this subject matter better than he. This is the complete text of the film:

 “It is a depressing and chastening fact that mine is the ninth official report covering crowd safety and control at football grounds.  Why were these other recommendations not followed?  I suggest two main reasons.  First, insufficient concern and vigilance for the safety and well-being of spectators.  Secondly, complacency, which led all parties to think that since disaster had not occurred on previous occasions it would not happen this time.  The safety and comfort of those on the terraces has not been regarded as a priority.  Club managements do not feel obliged to put their grounds into a state considered by the Police to be necessary for crowd control.  The problem of crowd control and safety, as it was said, suddenly arises.  Does there have to be a disaster or near-disaster at each ground to trigger radical action?  The combination of numbers, excitement and partisanship, even leaving aside misbehaviour, has a potential for danger.  Football requires higher standards both in bricks and mortar and in human relationships.  Police officers and stewards should be fully briefed and trained.  Standardisation in stadium design and construction is required.  Prison-type fences with spikes and overhanging sections should go.  The aim should be to provide more modern and comfortable accommodation. I am satisfied that seating does more to achieve those objectives than any other single measure.  Almost all the solutions I have proposed have been previously considered in detail by many distinguished inquiries over a period of sixty years.  Complacency is the enemy of safety.”

This was Taylor’s blueprint for the transformation of the game. Such was the power of his conclusions, this has been achieved. But as Taylor has warned us, we must never become complacent. Lest a tragedy like Hillsborough happens again….

Creating the National Football Museum Hall of Fame

Ian Wright is inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame by his childhood idol Alan Ball

George Best. Bobby Moore. John Charles. Bill Shankly. All-time greats of football at English clubs, legends of the game. When we opened the National Football Museum in 2001, they rightly featured strongly in our collections and displays. And yet as the CEO of the National Football Museum, I believed that these legends needed to be honoured in an even more special way, through the creation of a Hall of Fame. In 2002 I led the creation of the Hall of Fame for English football, the ‘National Football Museum Hall of Fame’.

The Museum’s Hall of Fame was for the greats of the game, from the beginning of Association football in 1863, up to today. When players were considered for induction into the Museum’s Hall of Fame, they were to be viewed against the very best, the all-time legends of English football. The Selection Panel we established for the Hall of Fame was the Hall of Famers themselves, led by the Museum’s President, Sir Bobby Charlton. Only the very best therefore were to be inducted, chosen by the greatest. In the first year Sir Bobby led a panel of all-time great players to choose the initial inductees, by secret ballot.

Annual Awards Ceremonies

At the first National Football Museum Hall of Fame Annual Awards Ceremony in December 2002, 22 players and 6 managers were honoured. As a first step in the recognition of the hidden history of women’s football, the Museum also inducted arguably the greatest player in the history of the women’s game in England, Lily Parr. In this first year, the Selection Panel had players and managers from over one hundred years of football history from which to make their selection In subsequent years, much smaller numbers were inducted, to ensure that only the greatest names in the history of the game were included the Hall of Fame. The Annual Awards Ceremonies were attended by an outstanding array of star guests and attracted substantial media coverage. The National Football Museum Hall of Fame soon became an outstanding awards event in the English football calendar. 

Sir Bobby Charlton, Lady Charlton and Mark Lawrenson at the National Football Museum Hall of Fame Annual Awards Ceremony

Selection Criteria

The selection criteria for inclusion in the National Football Museum Hall of Fame were set as follows. A player must have played in England for at least five seasons and have retired from playing. A manager must have managed in England for at least five seasons. The choice of who is then selected to be inducted, from a list of eligible nominations, is then down to the votes (by secret ballot) of the Selection Panel.

New Categories

Two other important categories were later added to each year’s inductions. First, players with disabilities. For example, in 2007, Stephen Daley, a footballer whose professional career was ended by loss of vision at 18, who later became the captain of the partially sighted England national team, was inducted. Second, a special awards section for those who made an outstanding contribution for the good of the game. Niall Quinn was inducted in this category, for donating the £1 million raised by his testimonial game to charity. He said he was delighted, but recognised that unfortunately he would never be good enough to make it into the Hall of Fame for his playing abilities! He was a very good player – but not a great one.

All-time Greats

By 2017, when I left my role as CEO of the Museum for new ventures, 111 male players, 17 female players, 11 players with disabilities and 21 managers had been inducted. A highly successful book of the Hall of Fame was first published in 2005, with a new edition in 2011.[1]

Rachel Brown-Finnis is inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame

Halls of Fame

Halls of Fame are much more complicated to set up and run than it appears, as I have written in my forthcoming academic book, Sport and Museums: Curious Connections? (Routledge, 2020). Yet they are in my view an essential part of any sports museum. Fans will always have heroes, whether they are players or managers. Those that excel in any sport deserve this special recognition.

[1] The Football Hall of Fame: The Ultimate Guide to the Greatest Footballing Legends of All Time

Creating the National Football Museum

1 August 1997. My first day as the Director of the project to establish the National Football Museum for England. I find that there is no collection as yet, no building, and no money to speak of. And one member of staff apart from me, a curator. It’s going to be a challenge.

31 January 2017. My last day as Director (CEO) of the National Football Museum. The Museum holds the world’s best collections on football, including the FIFA Collection. We have welcomed over 5 million highly satisfied visitors. We have raised over £55 million in capital and revenue to successfully develop and operate the Museum, first in Preston, then in Manchester.

National Football Museum opens to great acclaim, 2001

It wasn’t easy. But nobody said it would be! It was a no brainer that England, the birthplace of modern football, Association football, should have a museum dedicated to its cultural significance. However, several previous efforts to set up the National Football Museum had failed, including that by the English FA in 1953.

The National Football Museum for England opened in the city of Preston in February 2001 to outstanding media and public acclaim. The £15 million Museum had been made possible by a £9.3 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (now the National Lottery Heritage Fund). The Museum  housed in the oldest football league ground in the world, where Preston North End had played football since 1878, attracted over 100,000 visitors a year – pretty good  in a city of just 120,00 people.

Yet we always wanted to take the Museum’s collections to an even greater audience. Even before the Museum opened, we started to loan objects to displays and to create exhibitions elsewhere in the UK and around the world. This successfully continued during my 20 years as CEO, in over 30 countries. We also first attracted interest from Wembley Stadium about the possibility of a second site of the Museum in 1998, even before we opened in Preston.

The new National Football Museum in Manchester, 2012

In 2010 we secured a £28.5 million deal to create a new National Football Museum in Manchester. Manchester City Council had the vision to underwrite £8.5 million in capital to convert the Urbis building into the National Football Museum, and to provide to the Museum the £2 million of revenue funding that was already given to the Urbis building.

The new National Football Museum opened to great acclaim from the media, football, and above all, the public, in July 2012. The visitor projection was for 350,000 p.a. The Museum soon attracted over 500,000 visitors a year. 

The National Football Museum, Manchester

The world’s leading football museum

In Manchester the National Football Museum went from success to success. The Museum was invited to join the UK’s Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) in 2014, becoming the 58th member – and was the UK’s highest rated attraction by visitors in the 2014 ALVA survey! In 2015 we welcomed President Xi Jinping of China, which led to an important cultural exchange through football. In 2016 we were delighted to host a visit by HRH Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge. One of my proudest achievements was that, thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2015, we were able to secure the greatest collection in the world on the history of women’s football, the ‘Chris Unger History of Women’s Football Collection’. This was just before Chris Unger very sadly passed away. His wonderful collection is part of his legacy to us all.

Sharing my 20 years of expertise

I left the National Football Museum in 2017 for new challenges, but remain very much involved in football history, sports history, sports museums and the museum and attractions sector more widely. I am now sharing all that I learned in my 20 years as the leader of the National Football Museum for England to museums and attractions all around the world[i].

Doctor Kevin Moore


[i] This includes in academic publications. In 2008 I published an academic paper on the development of the Museum to 2008 :‘Sports Heritage and the re-imaged city: The National Football Museum, Preston’, International Journal of Cultural Policy, Vol. 14, No. 4, November 2008: 445-461. I will be updating this to 2017 in a forthcoming paper in the academic journal Soccer and Society. My latest book, Sport and Museums: Curious Connections? will be published shortly. My latest book is What You Think You Know About Football is Wrong: The Global Game’s Greatest Myths and Untruths, published by Bloomsbury, London, UK, 2019.