Collections & Research
The National Football Museum is custodian of the world’s largest public collection of football objects and archives, which is known as the Football Heritage Collection.
There are currently over 40,000 items within the collection, which continues to grow as we acquire new objects to preserve and help us share stories about football.
In 2013 it was recognised as an official Designated Collection by Arts Council England, described as “of outstanding importance and value, that deepens our understanding of the world” and was the youngest organisation to receive this recognition of outstanding quality and importance of the collection.
Around 2,500 objects are on display at the National Football Museum in Manchester at any one time. The wider collection is housed in our Research Centre in Preston. Find out how to book a visit to the centre here.
Below provides a brief summary of the individual collections that contribute to the Football Heritage Collection.
The FIFA – Langton Collection
The finest single collection of football memorabilia in the world was assembled by Harry Langton, a London journalist with a passion for the game. Finding a home for the collection was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the National Football Museum.
The collection features objects and ephemera from across the global history of the sport, from its earliest beginnings to the development of the professional game. The vast collection also includes artwork, toys and games and playing equipment, and also houses a number of objects relating to women’s football.
The Harry Langton Collection
Further material from the collector who assembled the FIFA Collection was purchased by the museum in 2000 with the assistance of a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
As with the FIFA Collection, it includes various forms of art, photographs and posters, playing kit and equipment, toys and games, books and ephemera.
The Football Association Collection
This collection of over 1600 items reflects all aspects of the history of the world’s first football association, founded in 1863. The collection consists of trophies and awards from international tournaments, gifts to the FA marking international matches, paintings and sculptures, photographs and archive documents.
The Football League Collection
This collection reflects all aspects of the history and development of the world’s oldest professional league, founded in 1888.
Handbooks, transfer lists, attendance records, programmes, and a large range of books provide an invaluable research tool for the museum. A large range of trophies no longer used by the Football League are also included in the collection and many are on display in the museum.
The Homes of Football Collection
The Homes of Football is acclaimed photographer Stuart Roy Clarke’s look at the changing face of football from the late 20th century onwards.
The People’s Collection
This rich and developing collection features objects and ephemera donated to us by members of the public, footballers (and their families) and other people related to the game. The 6000-strong collection features all manner of items, from clothing and player contracts to matchday memorabilia, chronicling the ever-changing picture of the game as experienced by the fans.
Bolton Wanderers and Preston North End Collections
This collection particularly relates to two of the Football League’s founder members; Bolton Wanderers and Preston North End. The official collection from Preston North End contains over 1,000 objects and celebrates one of the most famous clubs in the history of the game, and the team that play at the oldest football league ground in the world.
The Priory Collection
One of the finest private sporting collections, the Priory Collection comprises of over 300 outstanding items, including artworks and objects relating to legendary players and matches.
For more information about the Priory Collection, visit www.priorycollection.com
The Neville Evans Collection
Loaned to the museum since 2003, this 400-strong private collection relates to some of the great names in English and European football. It features shirts, medals and caps belonging to the likes of Tommy Lawton, Willie Cunningham, Franz Beckenbauer and Alfredo di Stefano.
For more information about the Neville Evans Collection, visit www.thenationalfootballcollection.org.uk
Kicking & Screaming Archive
These oral histories were collected for the 1994 BBC documentary series Kicking and Screaming, and consist of over 210 hours of filmed interviews. The recordings have been digitally re-mastered by the BBC Studios and Post-Production for the Museum in a project sponsored by Sportech.
The Littlewoods Pools
This collection of over 1,000 coupons, documents, photographs, and books relates to the history of the leading football pools company, Littlewoods Pools. Its contents, including winners’ photographs, ephemera, advertising and correspondence, help to chart the company’s social and financial impact on the game.
The Sir Stanley Matthews Collection
This collection relates to the career of one of the greatest English players of all time. This small but significant collection includes correspondence, ephemera and playing kit, and was purchased with the assistance of a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.