BLOG – TIM EDWARDS, SPORTING MEMORIES
Having volunteered to help to run a Sporting Memories group in Ipswich back in October 2017, I fully expected to go along a couple of times, make sure things were running ok, but then just pop in from time to time. It didn’t work out that way. I might be classified as a volunteer, but, being well within the target demographic, I am really just another member.
Prior to our temporary suspension last March, we had around 20 members each week, from a pool of perhaps 30 “regulars”. Different ages, social backgrounds and interests. Some very active in local sport, others less mobile for a variety of reasons. Many fans of Ipswich Town FC, but we also welcome fans exiled to Suffolk and with a passion, for example, for clubs as diverse as Bristol City, Manchester United and Borussia Moenchengladbach. Many of our members follow local, grassroots football too, and some still referee games. Others are more interested in cricket, speedway, rugby, darts, golf or boxing. The passion of one member for lawn bowls even encouraged several members to take that sport up.
Our weekly sessions always include coffee and – thanks to the generosity of our members – plenty of biscuits (sometimes even cake). We go through our sporting highlights of the past week or so – games we have been to, any sports we have watched on TV. These recent memories always trigger reminiscences of historic events – and our members have been going to live football since the mid-1950s so there is plenty to draw from. We then divide into two teams for the Sporting Pink quiz – it’s wonderfully competitive, with our refereeing contingent particularly keen on seeing perceived justice prevail.
The 90 minutes passes ridiculously quickly. It is, simply, fun – a chance to forget the outside world and live in our shared memories, passions and humour. Many of our members have shared their difficulties in their day-to-day lives – we are simply ordinary people, with the kind of physical and mental health challenges that you would find in any random group of 50-80 year-olds. But for those 90 minutes, our struggles are left outside the door – as one of our friends put it, “This is the only place where I can be the kind of person I wish I always were”.
I leave each session energised, happy, motivated and know I will be retelling some of the tales all week.
Fast-forwarding to January 2021, and we have finally got organised to dare to try a session by Zoom. Just for a trial. Just to see if it could work. After all, everyone knows that old people can’t use computers, right? The very first zoom session attracted a dozen members. We were entertained by those zoom virgins who took up to an hour to get online and join in (that’s what being friends means – we may not have met for 9 months, but we picked up exactly where we left off, no formalities needed). It was pretty much just like meeting face-to-face – but no biscuits were evident and we didn’t even find time for a quiz. Several more are looking to join us from next week, and it looks like we will be very close to our historic numbers before very long.
We have gone from Room to Zoom. And that’s where we will stay, right up to the day we can Room once again. If any of our group read this blog, I’d like to thank you for making my life that bit more worth living.
For your friendship and fun, and for sharing your passions and frustrations in equal measure.
Here’s to a wonderful future of Sporting Memories!
And for general information about Sporting Memories visit the Sporting Memories website here.