Sunderland Fans Museum exhibition gets keys to new home at former city train station
The founder of the popular SAFC Museum project says he has been given the 'perfect early Christmas present' after he was handed the keys to the exhibition's new home.
Michael Ganley has now formally taken over at the former Monkwearmouth Station Museum building, which will house his extensive collection of football memorabilia.
It will be SAFC Museum’s first permanent home after it put on temporary displays in Hendon, The Bridges and the City Library venues since 2014.
Legendary Sunderland skipper Kevin Ball was on hand to congratulate Michael, and his team on getting into the venue and was given a tour.
Monkwearmouth Station Museum was a functioning station for passengers until 1967, before it was turned into a museum in 1973.
“It’s the perfect Christmas present to have the keys and be able to start work here,” said Michael, a lifelong Black Cats supporter whose collection includes match-worn shirts from club legends, medals and boots.
“We want to generate as much interest as possible in the place, because to be honest, Sunderland needs places like this.
“The building is 170-years-old next year and it’s great that we are able to keep it in use.
“We want to keep as much of the original features as possible but this is a building of such historical significance.
“I’ve got to say thanks to Sunderland City Council for their help too.”
Kevin, who is now a Sunderland club ambassador, said: “For Michael and the team to get this building after all of the work they’ve put in is great.
“This is still an important venue in Sunderland which makes it all the better.
“Sunderland fans and supporters of other clubs will be able to come and visit and I’m sure they’ll all enjoy having a look around.
“It brings back memories for me personally because they’ve got the Roker Park boardroom table which I signed my contract on!
“Having all of the memorabilia on show is great but being able to tell the story of these pieces will be fantastic.”
Councillor John Kelly, portfolio holder for culture at Sunderland City Council, said: “I’m delighted to see Monkwearmouth Station Museum taking on a new lease of life as a football museum.
“This will provide a fantastic new offer from a fantastic building and I’d like to wish The Fans Museum all the best in their new home.
“Anyone who knows Sunderland, knows how passionate people here are about their football. It’s in their DNA.
“Football plays a key role in the cultural life of the north east.
“You only have to look at how many people have visited the touring exhibition to see what an appetite there is for football memorabilia and football-related activities so I think this has the potential to be a real success.” Michael and the team will now be hard at work getting the museum up to code ahead of an opening date which they hope will take place next summer.
“We’ve got nine months of work to do in about four, but we’re really looking forward to it,” said Michael, who has recently grown a beard as part of the DecemBeard charity campaign to raise awareness of bowel cancer.
“If any volunteers, sponsors or painters want to get in touch about helping us out, we’d like to hear from them, either if they want to drop us an email or write to us.”
Those looking to get involved with SAFC Museum can email [email protected]