Sally Hawley, Collections Officer at National Football Museum has been assigned as the main point of contact between the project and the NFM collection and has begun some preliminary research in order to:

  • Identify specific 1953 related items, history and artists represented within our collections and available to us on loan.
  • What existing print items do we have? What are their materials? etc.
  • What are the storage, conservation and display needs around:
    • paintings
    • illustrations
    • prints

  • How do items in the existing collections (identified above) connect to:
    • women’s football; women’s representation of football
    • France (2016)
    • Russia (2018)

1953 was the date of a seminal “Football and the Fine Arts Competition” organised as a collaboration between the Football Association and the newly established Arts Council. The main prize was won by an already established L. S. Lowry for his now iconic “Going to the Match” painting but in fact there were over 1710 individual submissions to this competition across all kinds of media and many are now part of our collection. One starting point outlined in our Activity Plan is to revisit our own collection and identify potential gaps and opportunities for potential acquisitions.

An interesting thing which some initial research flagged up was the story of Gerald Cains, who actually entered the when he was 21 and then entered a much more recent competition (One Love, 2006) aged 74!

We also identified that we have in our collection works by the eventual winner of the 2006 competition – Ben Kelly.

Further online research identified another of the 1953 painters who popped up again more recently: Michael Salaman, whose work was shown at Gallery 27, Cork Street, in London as part of a survey show entitled “The Salamans” in 1997.

Obviously this is just the tip the iceberg, but we hope that this re-appraissal of our existing collections may help us begin to identify further specific areas enabling clarity when it comes to pro-active collecting and the development of our Contemporary Art Collections Policy.


“…(the) response to the FA’s invitation was overwhelming, with a total of 1710 pieces of art submitted for the consideration of the judges.”

Physick, R 2012 “Football and the Fine Arts: the Football Association Art Competition and Exhibition, 1953”

One Love / Gerald Cairns / The art of football, Lynn Barber:


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