Sunday, 2 January 2011

Our history's in his hands: LFC museum curator Stephen Done

“Bill Shankly said: ‘First is first. Second is nothing.’ ”

These are the words Stephen Done used to describe his desire to become Liverpool Football Club’s first curator for their museum at Anfield.

“I went there with that in my mind,” he said. “I have no interest in doing well. I want the job. Fact. I want to win. I want this job. Nothing else will do.”

Thirteen years later, Stephen can say that those words from Liverpool great Bill Shankly helped him achieve his goal.

For a man who has always loved history and became a Liverpool fan in his childhood, stumbling upon this dream job was luck at its best.
“I don’t know how I saw it, by pure luck. Liverpool were opening a museum and needed a curator. I was too over qualified but I don’t care. It’s Liverpool Football Club.”

Curator Stephen Done (right) shows new LFC
owner John Henry around the museum.

Stephen lived in other parts of the United Kingdom in his childhood, but was a Liverpool fan since watching the 1971 Cup Final against Arsenal. Even though Liverpool lost that year, he knew he had become a fan from that point on and the next year, they won the league.

“It’s strange,” he explains. “It almost feels like I have come home.”

As the curator, Stephen oversees the maintenance of the displays and as well as archiving an endless amount of photographs from the past and present. For a club that prides itself on it's successful past, the job comes very highly regarded.

The museum hosts a wide range of artifacts, dating back to when the club was first formed in 1892. One of these items from the 19th century is a favourite of the curator.

“It’s a very unremarkable old thing: a sheet of paper that formally recognizes the birth of Liverpool football club in 1892. It’s not a very romantic or exciting looking object, but without that, there is no Liverpool Football Club.”

Next to the document is a tiny medal won in 1893 by the Liverpool Reserves. It was the first medal ever won by the club in their first season in existence.

Other favourites of the curator include Roger Hunt’s 1966 World Cup winner’s medal, current co-captain Jamie Caragher’s medals and of course the 2005 Champion’s League trophy.

With the future of Anfield in the air, whether it is to expand or move to Stanley Park, questions are arising about the future of the museum too. Stephen would like to see a new design that would connect the old with the new rather than the current timeline.

“There is a natural tendancy, younger kids in particular, to want the new stuff. They’re not interested in the old stuff.”

With so many angles including the league, Anfield, FA Cup, fans and so on, Stephen explains that the blending together of the old and the new with these themes in mind shows one great amazing history.

“It also allows you to skip past dull years,” he adds. “Just because we haven’t won anything for a few years doesn’t mean we have become a boring or rubbish club. The black and white photos are just old and boring. They become more real then.”

One thing is for certain: the museum is a popular destination for Liverpool fans worldwide all year round, even when no football is playing, and it will continue to be as long as Liverpool Football Club is in existence.

With so many artifacts in storage still waiting to be displayed and shared with fans young and old, Stephen Done will not be giving up this dream job anytime soon.

“I look after the 2005 Champions League trophy. Tell me how it can get better than that?”

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