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A Look Into the English Football Hall of Fame

The players of Manchester United FC line up on the pitch at Belgrade before their European Cup quarter final match against Yugoslav side, Red Star Belgrade. The match resulted in a 3-3 draw that qualified united for the semi finals. The journey home, however, proved ill fated, resulting in the Munich plane crashed that killed many of the 'Busby Babes'.   (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Raise your hand if you knew that an English Football Hall of Fame existed. If you’re anything like me, it’s likely you didn’t have a clue about the Hall that is currently being relocated to Manchester from the National Football Museum in Preston.

I recently received a tweet from an EPL Talk reader asking that we look at creating a post that discussed the lack of a proper Hall of Fame for the Premier League. Upon my work in conducting research and looking at other similar institutions in America – the NFL Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Baseball Hall of Fame, NASCAR Hall of Fame and even the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame – I discovered the English Football Hall of Fame and it’s inaugural class of 2002. Who knew?

About to abandon the idea of asking why a Premier League Hall of Fame didn’t already exist, because in a way it did, I got to thinking about why I hadn’t ever heard of the already existing, if only for a few years, English Football Hall of Fame.

In America, the idea of a Hall of Fame is a grand experience that people travel across the country to see. Two or three of the above mentioned American institutions border on historic landmarks as thousands visit the Halls each year. Maybe I’m being a little naive, but just how well known is the English Football Hall of Fame in the U.K.? Is it a historic institution that citizens travel across the width and breadth of the country to experience?

The Hall itself adds new members in a ceremony each year that is conducted in September or October. A complete list of inductees exists and contains the usual suspects and essentially the who’s who of English football from the last fifty or sixty years. In order to gain membership into the Hall, one must be either retired or at least 30 years of age and be selected by a panel of football historians and ex-players the likes of Sir Trevor Brooking, Jimmy Armfield, Gordon Taylor and others.

In recent years, Ossie Ardiles, Teddy Sheringham, George Best, Kenny Dalglish, Kevin Keegan, David Beckham and Thierry Henry have all been inducted. Ryan Giggs and Jack Charlton were inducted in 2005, while Roy Keane and Alan Shearer got the honor in 2005 and Gary Lineker and Peter Schmeichel were inducted in 2004.

Along with players, managers, women and even teams such as Manchester United’s ‘Busby Babes’ of the 1950’s and the Manchester City team of 1968-70, the Hall boasts some pretty impressive members.

As the September/October induction period fast approaches, I’m curious as to which famous Premier League players will get the nod as I try to decipher who’s currently missing from the Hall. The 23rd of September will see the class of 2010 inducted, so now is the time to put your predictions in at EPL Talk and see if you’re right. Review again the complete list of current members here and leave a comment below if you think a particular player deserves to be in.

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  1. Macca

    January 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    The fact that it has mysteriously found itself located in the north west of England means that it is seriously slanted towards honoring north west clubs and soccer personalities. London clubs, too, get a look in. As the writer says, the museum seems to focus on all the usual (media-championed) suspects from the past fifty years, shamefully neglecting the personalities and figures from the past that created and shaped the game.

    The museum needs to be located in neutral geographical location or a location that at least has a fundamental connection to the development of the game. There’s much work to do to make it a museum that represents the true flavor of the game and its history.

  2. RedMD

    August 25, 2010 at 5:07 am

    Quite apart from being a hall of fame, it’s quite a nice museum to visit to learn more about the developement of the game. They have a nice collection of memorabilia from all eras associated with the game’s developement. Also incorporated into the museum was a spot that literally projected into Deepdale with a nice view of the pitch. Overall was a nice way to spend a day, short train ride up to Preston from Manchester…and if you’re lucky (as I was) catch a PNE match next door. Will it be a freestanding establishement when moved to Manchester or will it be associated with one of the clubs?

  3. CTBlues

    August 24, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I had no idea that there was an English football hall of fame. To me it seems that players aren’t memorialized like they are here in the states. Look at the Yankees, once Jeter retires there will never be a single digit number worn again. They also have monument park in center field for great players and personel that have worked/played for the organisation. It seems in all sports in the US if a player is great there jersey is retired and either hung in the rafters or painted on a wall so they are remembered forever.

    When I started to watch the EPL I had no idea who any of the greats were. You don’t see any retired numbers or names of former greats in the stadiums to remind you of the glory days or even the lone shinning light in dark times.

  4. Poker Rakeback

    August 24, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Hall of fames are just not that important in England, Plus I don’t think they would work well in football anyway, American’s probably like them because their games are more about stats that can be compared, Football isn’t really like that. How do you compare Paul Scholes in stats against another player. You just have an opinion on someone based on watching them play.

  5. Dave C

    August 24, 2010 at 9:12 am

    I’ve been aware of this football HoF for a while. It was having big problems drawing crowds because of it’s location (Preston).

    Personally, I think it’s a really pointless idea. American’s may love their HoFs, but I just don’t think there’s any interest in the idea in England. We can all argue about who the greatest players were all day, with or without some HoF Committee to lend it’s opinion to the matter.

  6. patrick

    August 24, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I’ve been to the USA Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, NY. Its a great location just outside of the Catskill State Park. Probably a three hour drive from New York City. You’d be amazed at the soccer history that flys under the radar in the States.

    I’ll leave the English to hono(u)ring the English.

  7. Eric

    August 24, 2010 at 8:39 am

    In America, the Baseball Hall of Fame (“Cooperstown” as it’s often called, as it’s located in a small village called Cooperstown in New York, about 200 miles from any city) stands well above the other Halls in stature.

    As well as being a fantastic tourist destination, with loads of memorabilia and classic video to watch (my favorite is the postcard rack that has a postcard for each of the 300+ players in the hall, so you can send your grandparents postcards with their favorite players), the annual Hall of Fame debate is an excellent source of silly-season and pub-stool argumentation.

    As there are no formal criteria for Hall membership, fans are free to debate things like: How does a very long career of very good play compare with an spectacular but injury-shortened one? How important is it that the player was on some teams that won championships? What about players that were great on the field, but showed poor character off it (racism, drinking, womanizing, steroids, etc)? (Betting on baseball is the only infraction that results in permanent official ineligibility for the Hall, which is why the alltime leader in safe hits made, Pete Rose, is not in it).

    This was the first I heard of an English Football HOF, I think it’s a great idea and hope it gets more attention. I’d rather think of “English” than “EPL” because it brings in the club-or-country debate as well. (If you’re looking for top English footballers, how do you rate Rooney?)

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