Pitch to Pixel at the National Football Museum: From football stadium to home console

Joe Daly

Head to Pitch to Pixel for an interactive tour through football gaming history – and a leg that simulates a professional tackle.

Red or Blue? FIFA or Pro Evo? Footie Manager or original Champ Man?* The great questions of the modern age have made casualties of relationships, friends, game pads and rationality. The National Football Museum’s latest exhibition, Pitch to Pixel celebrates these divisions and the power (and financial heft) of the relationship between the gaming industry and football.

Spread over Level 3 of the museum is an interactive history of football gaming, with some of the most iconic games of all time available to play for free. The accompanying text and imagery goes some way to showing just how quickly the industry has evolved. Most noticeable of the incredible developments (not least because of the massive EA SPORTS logos plastered everywhere) is FIFA 16 and the film-like realism of the faces and stadiums, as well as the huge number of different options for how to play.

An interactive history of football gaming, with iconic games available to play for free

Pitch to Pixel’s journey highlights the technological developments in football gaming, the growth of the industry, and what some would term the corporatisation of the game. The licensed players, the Dreamcast sponsorship of Arsenal, the real advertising hoardings; the development within football itself has been mirrored by the games about it. It’s a little jarring, too, to see huge logos from the biggest sports games companies in the world spreading across a museum.

You could aim to try and work your way through the years and watch things progress like that Evolution of Dance video but, personally, I can’t help being drawn to Championship Manager 2, the gold standard of football management simulations. Nostalgia kicks in, and before long I’m not walking through the history of football computer games, I’m living my history of football computer games.

A nod to Cherno Samba, and his poignant plea to be remembered as an okay real-life footballer rather than just a Championship Manager superstar, however, and I close the game (if they’d been there, my parents would have been in shock). Art created around football is interspersed with the games themselves; there’s a prosthetic leg that allows you experience the real power of a professional tackle (though not actually working here) and a table football modified with light and sound.

The cliché that an exhibition offers something for all ages is rarely true, but in Pitch to Pixel you can regress into childhood playing the unsurpassable Sensible Soccer on one side of the room, whilst younger gamers play FIFA 16, setting up their own nostalgia for their favourite game.

*Oh, and – the answers are Blue , Pro Evo, original Champ Man. These are answers. Not opinions.

Culture Guides

The Tudors: Passion, Power and Politics


Let’s make the most of early summer, with this month’s selection of brand new art exhibitions from across the North!

Geronimo Festival 2022


Festivals, shows, museums, and much, much more – there’s plenty of summer fun to be had for families in Manchester and the North, whatever the weather. Here are our top picks.

Writer Niamh Mulvey. Photo by K Elliott


There’s plenty of sunshine-drenched reading to immerse yourself in from established names and emerging talent, poets and prose writers alike, both in real life as well as online.


From rising stars playing basement sets to open air shows by your favourite bands’ favourite bands, there are some gems in this month’s music picks.

Theatre in Manchester


Eclectic theatre festivals, silly slapstick and dreamy outdoor shows, there’s lots of brilliant performances happening inside and outside over the summer.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Baekdu Korean BBQ Restaurant

Food and Drink

Plan for July’s food and drink outings at some of the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North.


Explore Hollywood history, queer rarities and squirm-inducing horror across the big screens of Manchester and the North this month.

Tours and Activities

Get out in the sun this month with tours and activities that will have you engaging positively with the climate, taking the plunge in Salford Quays and getting creative.