by Tony Jameson-Allen, Director, Sporting Memories Network

At the recent Football Business Awards, held at Stamford Bridge on November 6th, a little known charity pulled off a remarkable cup upset when beating the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton to take the trophy for Best Football Community Scheme. The award completes a stunning hat-trick after being named best national dementia friendly initiative in May and being listed as one of Britain’s Top 50 New Radicals by The Observer, for their work in helping older sports fans to remain connected to their communities.

Recalling great moments of football and sport can play their part in therapeutic interventions that can help improve the physical and mental health of older people. Sporting Memories Network is working with an increasing number of football & sports clubs to establish weekly groups that meet in care homes, day centres, libraries and social clubs and at football, rugby and cricket stadiums to reminisce about sport in days gone by.

Some remarkable stories have emerged from these activities, including one elderly gentleman who it transpired, at the age of twenty had played at Wembley for Scotland alongside the late, great Bill Shankly and Matt Busby. Not everyone has played for their country, most people do have a story to tell and focussing on football and sport can tap into a subject that is held dear by many and connects communities and generations.

Sporting Memories Network uses archive images of football and sporting heroes, old grounds and teams to help trigger memories of older fans attending weekly groups across the UK. The subject matter of offers a natural topic for conversations, promoting communication and interaction, particularly (though not exclusively) for older men. Weekly groups in Bristol and South Gloucestershire are even run by former professional footballers and county cricketers at the grounds they once played at. The Professional Footballers’ Association sponsored a pilot project at Charlton Athletic and the PFA are a listed supporter of the network.

Sharing Memories

Over 4,500 memories have been shared online by stars and fans in support of the work. The network has gained the support of many former players and referees, with memories ‘donated’ by Martin Buchan, PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor, Razor Ruddock & Nigel Martyn to name but a few.

A number of clubs are working in partnership with the network to engage fans in the projects. ‘Memories Games’ have been staged by Premier League & Football League clubs, with fans sharing their favourite memories ahead of the match, wearing their favourite shirts to the game and playing that old favourite, spot the ball.

Premier League quality on non-league finances

The network has garnered some remarkable support from stars and sporting bodies including the PFA, the MCC and the BRDC, with F1 drivers, Olympians, footballers and global stars from TV & Music getting involved. Their work has featured on BBC Test Match Special & many of the team from talkSPORT have recorded memories for the project following several appearances on the Hawksbee & Jacobs show. News of ACDC lead singer Brian Johnson’s support lead to the network appearing on the front page of the NME website.

Former LUFC star and Sky Sports legend Chris Kamara shared some great insights into the intricacies of man management with this personal memory

The network is entirely self-financed and the Sporting Memories registered charity welcomes financial donations as well as gathering more of your own memories at Replay Sporting Memories.

Read more and share a memory at