10 Years in Manchester: Jane Bateman Calendar

9 Mar 2023

As the National Football Museum celebrates 10 years in Manchester, we are telling the stories of people who have been instrumental in the museum’s success.

The latest subject of our ‘My NFM Story’ features is Jane Bateman, Head of International Relations at the FA and Deputy Chair of Trustees at the museum.

Jane Bateman landscape

When you first visited the National Football Museum, what were your first impressions?

Indelibly imprinted in my mind is turning the corner to see George Best’s mini. Such a modest car by today’s standards, but how proud he was of it.

Why do you think it is important for the country to have a national museum about football?

England is the birthplace of the modern game and football is our national sport, which is why it is so important for our country to celebrate our football roots and the journey the game has taken from its early beginnings into the 21st century. As the national museum, we can gather artefacts, film clips and other memorabilia from across England (and beyond) and give football fans the opportunity to learn about the past as well as relive, create and share memories through our collections, bespoke exhibitions and community events.

How does the National Football Museum contribute to Manchester’s arts and cultural offer?

The city of Manchester is hugely diverse in terms of art and culture, and has always seemed to me to be a city that prides itself on its ambition, originality, creativity and variety. That football can be part of such a rich cultural landscape, within a museum dedicated to the game, reflects this dynamism which Manchester projects. The National Football Museum feels and is very much at home there.

What does football mean to you?

I have loved football as a fan from a young age, and have been fortunate to enjoy a long career in the game. Working in football has made me very much aware of its incredible value not just as a sport, but as a means to bring people of all ages, genders, race and nationalities together, be they players, fans, parents, administrators or officials. It promotes team-building, friendships, breaking barriers, social inclusion, health, hope and even peace. To me, it is very much more than ‘just a game’.

From Moss Side to Marseille tour

What has been your favourite exhibition at the National Football Museum?

The current one, from Moss Side to Marseille, is my favourite. Michael Browne’s paintings are remarkable, bordering on the unbelievable. They are so rich in terms of content, colour and detail, telling intriguing and diverse stories of the relationship between sport and society.

With the direction of Manchester legend Eric Cantona, and the inspiration of the best of Italian renaissance painters, these vast canvases are iconic themselves. It is a privilege for the National Football Museum to be the first to display them before they start their global journey.

1863 fa minute book

What’s your favourite item on display within the museum?

Without doubt the original FA Minute Book from 1863. It’s incredible that this book, with the first ever rules of football handwritten inside, marks the absolute beginning of the game we know today. It brings to mind an image of the group of men who came to form The Football Association sitting down in the Freemason’s Arms in London, removing their top hats, and writing out with a fountain pen the 13 rules which defined the early version of the game millions play and watch today.

To historians, this book is on a par with other landmark, surviving books and manuscripts such as the Magna Carta, Shakespeare’s First Folio and Captain Scott’s diary. That’s how valuable and significant it is.

What are your ambitions for the museum? Where would you like it to be in another 10 years’ time?

The museum has grown hugely in terms of direction and ambition since its rebirth in Manchester a decade ago. It has emerged from the pandemic with a discernible new energy, creativity and positivity, and I see this driving forward the collections and exhibitions to new levels, attracting new and diverse audiences, and extending the museum’s reputation internationally through partnerships and shared experiences.

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