MARKERS launches in the Score Gallery

National Football Museum celebrated opening the doors to its latest exhibition MARKERS with first transgender referee Lucy Clark and school children from East Manchester Academy and Blackpool Football Club School, as the museum enters an exciting new chapter.  

MARKERS brings together nine commissioned pieces of artwork from Manchester-based artists who have each selected a hero from the footballing world to honour. It will explore each hero’s journey and the steps taken to complete a mission, explore their call to action, skills they equip themselves with and their learnings.  

Focussing on the impact these heroes have made beyond the white markings of the football pitch, it will explore themes of LGBTQ+ rights, immigration, women’s football and ethnic minorities.  

Heroes included in MARKERS includes Eric Cantona, Raheem Sterling, Park Ji-sung, Mary Phillip, David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Pete The Badge, Justin Fashanu and Lucy Clark.  

Lucy Clark, who opened the new exhibition, said: “It has been a privilege to unveil the MARKERS exhibition and see the space being explored by so many children, whilst they learn about mine and so many other interesting stories.

“Football means so much to me. Like so many, it is more than just a game to me. I want others to share that same positive experience I have had and use it as a platform to overcome some of the challenges in our society today. I am honored to have been included in this exhibition and hope that it can educate and provide inspiration to the next generation on the positive impact the game can have.”

In 2019, Lucy became the first openly transgender football referee in the world. She has now gone on to become the Manager for Sutton United’s women’s team and remains a key role model in the LGBTQ+ community.

The unveiling event also featured school children from East Manchester Academy and Blackpool Football Club School, who were amongst the first to explore the exhibition and see the artworks up close for the first time.

The new exhibition is launched at a key moment in National Football Museum’s history as it has undergone a major rebrand. The iconic Urbis building has benefitted from a transformational makeover with the outside now displaying its new ‘Football Matters’ slogan. 

Tim Desmond, CEO at National Football Museum, said: “At National Football Museum, we believe football is important. As a game, yes, and its role in society. Football is a part of so much of people’s lives. It creates impact, positivity and it disrupts, which is explored in MARKERS.

“Our new message of Football Matters is highlighting that football isn’t just about spectating. It’s about being there, being involved, coming together, no matter who you are of why you love it. And that is what people can expect when they come to the National Football Museum. 

“MARKERS uses creativity for exploration, learning, debate and celebration as we highlight some of the most recognisable faces in football and shine the spotlight on some of the lesser-publicised success they have had off the pitch. We cannot wait to see visitors enjoying MARKERS as it is not one to be missed!”

MARKERS will open to the public on May 17 and run until January 2025. The National Football Museum is open from 10am to 5pm every day of the week.