Q&A with Kevin Moore

Mariana Cerqueira, 17.12.2014
National Football Museum's director on its world war one exhibition
Kevin Moore is the director of the National Football Museum in Manchester. To mark the centenary of the first world war, the museum is putting on an exhibition entitled The Greater Game – Football & The First World War, which opens on 19 December.

The exhibition will illustrate the role of football at home and at the front during world war one, from what really happened in the Christmas truce matches to the controversy surrounding the continuation of the 1914-15 football season.

How did the idea for this exhibition come about?

We had been planning the exhibition for some time, because we knew there was such a rich and largely forgotten history of football in the first world war. Our visitors have also been suggesting it to us.

You asked people to contribute to the exhibition - have many come forward with their own memorabilia?

Yes, very much so. Some extraordinary material has come to light.  For example, the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment has kindly loaned to us one of the footballs kicked over the top on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, in Captain Neville’s famous charge with the Surrey Regiment.

The family of Jimmy Speirs, FA Cup winner with Bradford City in 1911, have donated his international cap and letters he sent home from the front. Speirs went missing in action in 1917. His body was eventually found in 1919.

Mfannwy Tripper was a women footballer during the war playing for Birkenhead and Manchester. She was also a Land Army girl. Her niece has donated programmes and photographs recording Mfannwy’s wartime football career.

What do you expect to achieve with this exhibition?

Thanks to the Sainsbury’s’ TV advert, most people are now aware of the Christmas truce football match. But this is just one story in four years of football during the first world war.

The exhibition, and the accompanying book, will reveal this rich history through the remarkable stories of ordinary men and women in extraordinary times. This includes the rise of the women’s game to a mass spectator sport, and then its ban by the FA in 1921.

What other issues do you think you could explore using football?

Football is such a key part of our culture that the possibilities are almost endless. We explore a wide range of such issues in our permanent displays and then focus further in our temporary exhibitions. In these we have already looked at football and fashion, and aspects of football and art. Football and music would make a great exhibition.

We are also exploring issues such as sexism, racism and homophobia in football through our current and future displays.