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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 April 2006, 21:50 GMT 22:50 UK
Oldest football to take cup trip
The ball is made from a pig's bladder
The world's oldest football is being sent to Germany for the World Cup.

The 450-year-old ball will form the centrepiece of an exhibition on the history of the sport.

Staff at its current home in Stirling's Smith Museum are preparing the delicate artefact for its trip to the Museum fur Volkerkunde in Hamburg.

The ball was once the property of Mary Queen of Scots and museum bosses in Germany were keen to display it after deeming it the oldest in existence.

"The Germans have decided, from all the evidence, that our ball is the oldest football in the world and it will be the centrepiece of this huge exhibition," said the Smith Museum's collection manager Michael McGinnes.

Royal connection

The 16th century ball is made from a pig's bladder and the cover constructed from pieces of thick leather, possibly deer, and tightly laced together.

Mr McGinnes added: "We can't prove that Mary Queen of Scots played with the ball but it is of that date."

Mr McGinnes will take the ball on a flight from Prestwick to Lubeck Airport, near Hamburg, in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Once in Germany, the ball will receive a traditional Scots welcome by being piped into the exhibition.

It will remain overseas for the duration of this summer's World Cup and it is expected to be returned home in mid-September.

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