What a result

2nd February 2001 at 00:00
Deedee Cuddihy went to pay homage, with a group of primary school fans, at the world's first national museum of football.

When I tried to imagine what the new Scottish Football Museum would look like, visions of a typical football club trophy room came to mind. The real thing was a revelation.

There are, of course, dozens of trophies displayed behind glass, including the Scottish Cup which will be taken out of its case every year and presented, briefly, to the winning team.

And there are numerous historic caps (including the oldest one in the world), significant football programmes (such as that from the first Ibrox Stadium disaster in 1902) and important pairs of boots (such as those laced up with ordinary string, which a professional player wore when he went back to his mining job during the Second World War).

But there is much, much more to what is believed to be the world's first national museum of football, situated at Scotland's rather grand National Football Stadium in Hampden Park - the "home" of Scottish football - on the South Side of Glasgow.

The manager of the museum is Ged O'Brien who, as well as having degrees in fine art and museum studies, may know more about the history of football than any other person in the country. He's a devoted Southampton supporter and has visited virtually every football ground in Britain.

Not only that, Mr O'Brien spent several years as a teacher, and colleagues at the museum (all highly qualified in academic and football matters) are clearly impressed with the way he handled a class of visiting Primary 7s from nearby St Fillan's primary school.

St Fillan's is within walking distance of Hampden and its P7s are the first school group to be given a tour. Their teacher, Danny Duffy, reminds them that they are to write evaluations of the trip which will be passed on to museum staff.

Mr O'Brien is anxious for feedback on how the museum can best meet their needs. He winces at the mention of "worksheets" and says he will wait for feedback from schools before producing education packs.

Although the museum opened in November, staff are treating the first few months as a "running in" period when schools and other groups can visit free of charge, provided they book in adance.

The St Fillan's children, not knowing what to expect from a national museum devoted to the most popular sport in the world, are clearly overwhelmed. The space seems vast and probably takes up at least half of the basement area of the stadium complex.

There is an orientation area in the centre of the museum where you can take a seat, watch historic football moments on the video screens and get your bearings. The exhibits themselves are divided into themed galleries.

The story begins in 1872 with the playing, in Glasgow, of the world's first international football match, between Scotland and England (a 1-1 draw). This momentous occasion is illustrated with numerous artefacts, as well as a life-size recreation of part of the fence that surrounded the playing field, complete with folk peering through convenient peep-holes at the action. Recreations of this type are an attractive feature of the museum. An original 1908 Hampden turnstile and ticket booth have been erected; figures of life-size, life-like footballers mimic Archie Gemmell's famous goal in Scotland's 1978 World Cup match against Holland and part of the interior of an authentic looking Glasgow pub has been built to show how innovations such as Sky TV have influenced modern-day football.

A Games Gallery features life-size table football figures, a colourful display of the development of Subbuteo-style table-top games and the biggest football in the world: eight feet in diameter.

Also covered is women's football, politics and war and the arrival of "celebrity" footballers in the Sixties. But, most impressive of all is the Media Gallery, which traces the history of football reporting from its earliest times to the present day. Included in this fascinating and particularly comprehensive display is Archie MacPherson's "signature" sheepskin jacket, Dougie Donnelly's boyhood football scrapbooks and a recreation of the old Hampden press box.

Commenting on the strong educational value of the museum, Mr O'Brien says:

"I defy anybody to give me a subject done in schools that we wouldn't have an angle on."

For further information and bookings, call Annie McGuire at the Scottish Football Museum, Hampden Park, Glasgow G42 9BA. Tel: 0141 620 4036.

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