This week a very familiar face was welcomed back to Cappielow as ‘Mr Morton’ Allan McGraw volunteered his time to support our Football Memories project.
Football Memories engages people with dementia and is proving a fruitful partnership between Greenock Morton, Alzheimer Scotland, and the Inverclyde Carers Centre.
The project gives fans of the beautiful game the chance to come together for an afternoon and reminiscence and banter about their favourite players and matches of the past.
As well as sharing their memories, participants work with images of players and stadiums and memorabilia to stimulate memories and even receive a traditional pie and Bovril at half-time.
The event has been staged at the Sinclair Street stadium on four occasions now, and former Ton player and manager, Mr McGraw, was eager to get involved.
He said: “Warren phoned me and asked me to come along and I said: ‘No problem. I’ll do anything I can to help.’ This was the second time I have been involved with a project like this. I attended one at Greenock town centre run by the SFA. Football seems to stimulate your memory and retain so much of your experiences watching and playing football. I don’t know why that is, but discussing it definitely triggers something. I think the Football Memories projects are great and a great thing for the people who come along and participate, especially with it being held here at Cappielow. Everybody gains something out of it.”
Brian McLaughlin, Head of Community Coaching, added: “We are absolutely delighted to team up with Alzheimer Scotland and Inverclyde Carers Centre in order to bring the ever popular Football Memories programme to Cappielow. All at Morton in the Community are looking forward to a successful partnership in which fans can reminisce about past players and the glory days. We see this partnership developing long term in which Football Memories will be a part of our long term fixture list.”
Alzheimer Scotland’s dementia advisor, Tracy Gilmour, added: “When we approached Morton to link up, we found out that it was something they had been thinking about too. Football is something people are passionate about, and what we’ve found is that when people come here to Cappielow they immediately start talking. You can see it in their faces that they’ve found a place where they feel a familiar place and focuses on things they can talk about and remember, and that makes them feel really good. From day one, there has been a strong sense of community, and it allows participants to feel like their old self. Holding the meetings here at Cappielow is a big thing. At the very first meeting when people were arriving, some decided to walk in along the side of the pitch. Then when they left, they all walked out along trackside and got their picture taken with the pitch behind them. Many of the men coming here were Morton season ticket holders all their life, but had never been in the VIP areas behind the scenes, and that makes them feel important. At the first meeting, I noticed there were certain names that were universally loved. Allan McGraw and Jimmy Cowan came up a lot. Allan’s presence today added another dimension to the group. People were really, really excited hearing he was coming. Even the wives and daughters who wait in the other room were like: ‘Oh! Can we go and meet him as well?’ At the end, I asked one of the men if he had enjoyed it and would think about coming back again, and he said: ‘I’ve had such a wonderful time today that I feel like crying.’ So it really was brilliant”
If you are interested in attending or volunteering to help with the group, or if you would like more information, please contact Tracy on 01475 261102 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org