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Football images by one of Britain's most iconic photographers on display at the National Football Museum
Manchester City's Mike Summerbee challenges for the ball (second left) v Newcastle 1969 by Sefton Samuels.



MANCHESTER.- The exhibition of 30 images highlights a bygone era - a long-ball world of Bovril, packed terraces and northern rain. With supporters watching fantastic footballers with equally fabulous haircuts.

The photographs present the game in a world away from the bling and ka-ching of the modern top-flight game.

When Football Was Football features a combination of portrait shots of legendary players and managers including George Best, Joe Mercer, Matt Busby, Brian Clough, Denis Law and Bill Shankly alongside stills of football grounds, fans and ball games on Manchester streets.

Photographs in the exhibition include:

• George Best outside his menswear boutique in 1968.
• Sir Matt Busby overseeing club business sat at his desk in 1969.
• Bill Shankly in 1978 – just three years before his death.
• Action shots from Maine Road and Old Trafford in the 1960s and 1970s.

Sefton Samuels said: “These photos aren't just from a different era, they almost seem like they’re from a different game.

“A world where you could casually bump into megastars like George Best or City goalie Frank Swift in the street, local businessmen owned the clubs, and games were a different sensory experience - working men and lads packed together in the stands, with smoke, the waft of pies and colourful language thick in the air.

“It wasn’t always pretty on the pitch or in the stands - and some things were crying out for change - but there was an innocence and pure sense of community to football before big money moved in.

"It’s mind-boggling that a generation or so later we’re now talking about £100million players, the ESL and multi-billion pound businesses. I remember when only the team captains were allowed to own cars!

“My love affair with football began as a kid growing up in Manchester in the 1940s - when I used to cycle to Maine Road, pay 2p to leave my bike in someone’s garden and get into the ground for 6p… and, of course, sneak my camera in.

“I went on to spend decades photographing players and matches across the north.

“What I can see now is that it wasn’t just football I was chronicling, but huge shifts in how the north, class, family life and society were all transforming before our eyes. Football has been the lens to view these profound changes."

Jon Sutton, National Football Museum head of exhibitions said: “Not only do Sefton’s images offer a slice of social history, they also capture the much bigger story of post-industrial decline, north/south divide and working class alienation.”

Sefton was born in Manchester in 1931. He left Manchester Grammar School at 16, trained in textiles and went to work in mills around Yorkshire. But a camera was never far from his hand.

In 1960, Sefton was named Manchester Evening News amateur photographer of the year and headed back to his native city as it began to swing.

It was during the sixties on the gritty streets of Manchester that he developed his trademark style of poignant photojournalism edged with a black northern humour.

Today 70 of his pictures are in the National Portrait Gallery, 10 photos in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s National Collection of the Art of Photography - and more than 100 in total in national collections.

It was during the sixties on the gritty streets of Manchester that Samuels developed his trademark style of poignant photojournalism edged with a black northern humour - which were published in his best-selling book ‘Northerners: portrait of a no-nonsense people’ (Random House).

When Football Was Football: The Photography of Sefton Samuels 1960s-1980s will open in the museum’s Pitch Gallery next to a car once driven by George Best who features in several photographs.










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