Memory Makers #7 - the people helping to create football memories
Willie Marshall is one of the volunteers working with Airdrie’s Diamonds in the Community Football Memories group and has been involved with the group for the last three years.
The 64-year-old was drawn to the fact that the project offered many benefits to those facing a variety of difficulties and was influenced to join after speaking with a local ex-footballer: "I was notified of an ex-Airdrie player who had dementia and lived in a nursing home, and when I visited him, I witnessed how good his memory was talking about playing football in the 50’s yet he couldn’t remember what he’d done that morning.”
This reinforced the positive impact groups like Football Memories can have on people, and Willie wanted to offer another pair of helping hands.
"It provides an opportunity for individuals, who may not be able to participate freely in conversations for a number of reasons, to relive memories from bygone days."
Willie notes that a big motivation for his continued involvement in the sessions is seeing the reactions of the members and hearing their stories about going to the football.
One particular tale stood out to Willie: “The most memorable moment was hearing the story of one man’s travel in a van with his mates from Motherwell to Lisbon to watch Celtic. He spoke for about 30 minutes in great detail about every aspect of the journey both there and back. This was a man who normally jumps in and out of conversations but spent the whole time relaying his memory of the trip. The retelling of his visit to Lisbon to see Celtic win the European Cup at the Estádio Nacional had everyone enthralled!”
"We were all stunned, and we all sat in silence listening to him."
Moments like that and the impact the group has on its members really brings the volunteers together. This sense of togetherness has been key to ensuring the group has been able to function over that last year despite the significant challenges encountered.
Willie feels running the group in some capacity throughout lockdown has been hugely beneficial:
“It keeps the link between our group and the individuals and groups that come along to each meeting. It shows we’re still trying to maintain the bond we have built up over the years.”
Glasgow’s hosting of UEFA EURO 2020 is a topic the volunteers are excited to engage the group with:
“I think whether we physically or virtually meet up, as the EURO’s draw nearer, we will use it as a reference point for future communications.”
The European Legends playing cards have also had a positive impact, sparking conversations about the EURO’s and a number of individual stories.
Willie noted that, in particular, “many individual stories came out about the 1960 final”, which was played between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia in Paris.
The Football Memories group has made a significant impact on its attendees and its effect has extended further than simply the sessions. Willie comments:
“One of the care homes who have come to our group since we started now have a Football Memories board on their wall. They hold weekly sessions themselves, discuss teams and players from days gone by and vote for their best players.”
The group has also facilitated reunions between those first brought together by football but who had lost contact. ‘We invited a former Airdrie player along and invited Ian McMillan along too. Neither of them had met each other for more than 60 years."
In many ways the Airdrie group has brought people together in their local community but also the wider community of football fans. The programme has provided the individuals involved with a space to connect over a sport which has played an important role in their lives. It offers the time and opportunity to recall memories and the resources to help some recount past thought, and this has had a beneficial impact on both the volunteers and those taking part.
PICK YOUR OWN DREAM TEAM!
To mark Football Memories place as an official legacy project of UEFA EURO 2020 Glasgow, a special commemorative deck of cards has been produced to support the groups around Scotland.
You can now select your very own Legends line-up from across the decades! Visit our Dream Team picker page, submit your choices and share your line-up on social media!
Check out the Legends Gallery to see all players chosen across the 60 years by both Team United and the Football Memories groups.
European Legends is one of the Scottish FA’s legacy projects for UEFA EURO 2020 ensuring that the reach and impact of the tournament extends as far and as deeply as possible around the country. Read more about the launch of the Football Memories European Legends Reminiscence Cards here.
Download the UEFA EURO 2020 App