Tom Wright provides information on the Football Memories meetings held at Easter Road Stadium, which are run by the Hibernian Historical Trust as part of Alzheimer Scotland’s pioneering Football Reminiscence project.
Over 90,000 people in Scotland have a diagnosis of dementia, which is the equivalent of every spectator on an average Scottish football weekend. Many of those affected have short-term memory problems, but are able to recall events from the past with some clarity.
Recognising this, a joint project between Alzheimer Scotland and the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park called Football Reminiscence helps men and women with dementia by reviving memories of players, games, goals and incidents from football matches in their younger days.
The Hibernian Historical Trust was in at the start of this valuable project by providing Football Memories meetings, which was a yearlong experiment held by the Glasgow Caledonian University to evaluate its worth.
Since then, a number of Football Memories groups have been established throughout Scotland from the Shetland Isles in the north to Stranraer in the south, where people with dementia and other memory problems can gather to enjoy talking football and looking back at the good old days.
Another major problem affecting Scotland at this time is loneliness, so we are also keen to welcome anyone to our Football Memories meetings who may feel isolated where they would find themselves amongst friends.
For several years now The Hibernian Historical Trust has held meetings inside Easter Road Stadium between 11:00am to approximately 12.30pm on the first Monday of each month. The extremely popular gatherings are not just for Hibs supporters but also for fans of all clubs or anyone who feels that they may benefit from meeting like-minded people.
A question and answer session with Mickey Weir
Over the years the group has expanded greatly and we now regularly attract between 40 and 60 to each meeting. Because of demand we will shortly be expanding the sessions to two each month.
The meetings, which are run entirely by volunteers, are very informal and take place in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Split into smaller groups, there is usually just a general discussion of the old days (not always football) with the help of photographs, items of memorabilia, sporting quizzes or short DVDs of games.
Guests with Neil Martin, Peter Cormack and the 1964 Summer Cup
As well as outside visits including a trip to the Hampden Football Museum travelling by coach, we regularly invite former players for question and answer sessions, which are always extremely well received.
Those attending can either join in the chat or just sit back and listen, there is absolutely no pressure exerted. Everyone appears to look forward to the meetings, which often run over the allotted time and many of the participants have since become good friends.
Anyone wishing to attend should have the capability of making their way to the stadium either on their own or accompanied by friends or family who will also be made very welcome.
There is no need to book, just turn up at the main reception and everyone will be made more than welcome. Our next meeting is on Monday 6th November 2017.
There is normally plenty of free on street parking in the surrounding area of Easter Road Stadium, with taxis etc. able to drop passengers off directly outside the reception area. Easter Road Stadium has good wheelchair access as well as disabled toilets.
Tea, coffee, biscuits and good company will be supplied and there is no charge to attend the meetings.
The Hibernian Historical Trust is an entirely independent supporter led initiative but we are indebted to the football club who have kindly supplied the use of the premises free of charge.
Written by Tom Wright