Swaffham museum snaps up shield loan from Arsenal

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Swaffham has pulled off a big summer transfer coup by completing a loan signing from Arsenal.

But, rather than one of Arsene Wenger’s young starlets preparing to grace the Shoemaker’s Lane pitch next season, the new recruit will be appearing in the town’s museum instead.

That’s because the item in question is the old Mid-Norfolk Football Shield, which was first presented more than a century ago and is currently part of the collection in the Arsenal club museum.

The Premier League giants have now loaned the trophy to the London Street facility for the next two years.

And officials have appealed for local people to come forward if they have any information about it, so that at least some of the gaps in its history can be filled.

Museum manager Sue Gattuso said the loan had been brought about by a family connection which links Swaffham with the Emirates Stadium.

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UGC pic for Lynn News ANL-140528-172422001

She explained that the daughter of town resident Pam Buxton works for the FA Cup winners

She added: “The curator at the Arsenal museum knows a bit about Norfolk and he said to her ‘Do you think they would like to have it?’”

The trophy is first thought to have been played for during the 1904-05 season but, after 1906, there is no record of it being presented again until 1922. After that, it was presented for the final time in 1929.

The story of how the shield came to be in Arsenal’s hands is not clear, though it is believed to be linked to Shouldham-born Alf Kirchen, who was a member of the club’s League championship-winning side in 1938.

Tony Sandell, the curator of Arsenal’s museum, said staff there understood the shield was among a number of items given to the club by Mr Kirchen’s family either late in his life or soon after his death in 1999.

He said it was possible that the true identity of the shield may not have been known at the time, adding: “We were very happy to loan them the piece.”

The shield is not currently on display, but is expected to be available for visitors to see from July.

Anyone with information about its history is asked to contact the museum on 01760 721330.