Newcastle becomes giant escape room for new football-themed mystery

An escape room-style challenge launching in Newcastle this month claims to be inspired by the curious tale of a 1892 theft which it wants players to solve.

The new quest, from the award-winning Mystery Guides adventure team, is inviting people to try to crack 'Newcastle’s greatest sporting mystery' - but they will have to be on the ball because it involves tracking down clues across the city and being right on target to secure success. Mystery Guides events - which were initially launched down south by Jack Wells, a man described as a historian-turned-entrepreneur with a love for puzzles - now span the country and the latest is here in Newcastle.

And in the city home of Newcastle United, the challenge's football theme is certainly set to appeal. We're told the premise for the game, just out this May, is an 1892 story of the last ever match between Newcastle East and Newcastle West teams which ended in chaos when players returned to the dressing room to discover that someone had stolen the match ball.

Mystery Guides says the truth behind the story has been much debated but - luckily for game-players - an old diary was recently discovered in a dusty cellar which may shed light on the ball's current whereabouts. So the new adventure, which it adds "will turn Newcastle into a giant outdoor escape room", involves solving a series of clues and unravelling what happened to finally uncover the secret location of the legendary football which is hidden somewhere in the city.

Jack Wells, Mystery Guides' founder and chief executive officer, said of the adventure which is called The Mystery of the Match-Ball Burglar: “This is a unique opportunity for Newcastle locals and visitors alike to unravel the amazing history behind the city and its beloved football team.

"The football is out there somewhere - and I can’t wait for someone to find it." He added: "When they do, they’ll discover an extra hidden twist that I just love!"

Mystery Guides are aimed mainly at adults but the chance to be out and about exploring the city will most likely appeal to many families with children aged around eight-plus. The Newcastle jaunt will prove good exercise too as the adventure is expected to take around three hours to complete and, in an added attraction for adults, the route will take in "three historic taverns" too.

The events mix puzzles, history and outdoor adventure and all the information needed to take part in the city mission is contained in The Mystery of the Match-Ball Burglar book. While the team do finally say the stolen football tale is fictional, the book includes information - alongside each clue - on local history and hidden gems which is based upon detailed research into true tales and folklore of local characters and events.

Those wanting to take up the new challenge can order the The Mystery of the Match-Ball Burglar, priced £19.99, here.