The Iron Liddy Column

For club and country: Help to get West Ham United to the top of the WW1 Remembrance League

Today I’ve been browsing the array of online articles commemorating the 100 year anniversary of Armistice Day and I came across one that was both surprising and a bit shameful.

Apparently the Woodland Trust and the National Football Museum launched a joint project on 1st July 2016 to plant trees in memory of footballers who fought in World War One. For every £20 raised by the fans of 62 football clubs a tree will be planted at England’s First World War Centenary Woodland on the edge of the Epsom Downs in Surrey, with a target of 100 trees per club.

The name of the project is For Club and Country Remembering the Greater Game and its aim is to create a living and digital legacy to remember the sacrifices made by footballers on the frontline as well as the home front effort during the First World War. As their website explains:

“The direct effects of the First World War are still felt on today’s landscape, with the UK having the least woodland cover in Europe. During and after the First World War, trees were planted in remembrance, marking the loss of life and the sacrifices made. We feel strongly that this tradition should be continued to create a living and growing legacy as a fitting tribute.”

Shockingly, in almost two and a half years the project has only raised £2,621 of its £139,000 target. I can’t believe for a moment that this is due to football fans failing to donate to such a worthwhile cause. It must be down to a lack of publicity, especially as over £500 of the money raised so far was donated since the news article about the lack of donations appeared yesterday. Clearly the PR departments of both the Woodland Trust and the National Football Museum need a kick up the butt. I’m a member of the Woodland Trust and this is the first that I’ve heard about this project!

So I’m appealing to all West Ham fans to consider making a donation in memory of the Hammers who fought and died in WW1. There are several good reasons to do this, not least because helping to restore our green and pleasant land in the name of those who died in her name is a very fitting and environmentally sound idea; but also because the ambassador of the project is none other than our very own Sir Trevor Brooking. As Sir Trev explains on the project website:

“The Woodland Trust and the National Football Museum’s For Club and Country project is the perfect way to commemorate football’s important role in the First World War.

“We’re planting groves of trees for the clubs whose players bravely fought for their country and creating something beautiful and long lasting for future generations.

“Every football fan needs to get involved and make sure their club is remembered in the football groves at Langley Vale Wood. If you love football as much as I do, please pledge just £5 to get your team represented and see your own name listed on the supporters’ roll of honour.”

So not only will you be helping to create a living, breathing tribute to those fallen men, you will also have the opportunity to add your name to the Roll of Honour alongside Sir Trevor Brooking’s name. Once the First World War commemorations conclude in 2019, your name will form part of a permanent exhibition at the National Football Museum.

If all of that isn’t reason enough to pledge whatever you can afford then consider this …… at the moment the top six clubs in the WW1 Remembrance League are as follows:

  1. Nottingham Forest – £315
  2. Tottenham Hotspur – £260
  3. Queens Park Rangers – £155
  4. Cardiff City – £150
  5. England – £140
  6. Plymouth Argyle – £105

I know! We need to climb up that table above the Spuds ASAP! Many clubs’ supporters have yet to donate anything at all, so at £72 West Ham aren’t in the relegation zone but this is a league that we can actually win. So please dig deep and pledge what you can, every little will help. Let’s make West Ham the first club to reach their £2,000 target and make Sir Trev proud of us.

This link will take you directly to the WHU donation page: For Club and Country: West Ham United

Come on you Irons!


The Iron Liddy Column

Putting football into perspective

When tragedy strikes it puts the importance of professional football into perspective.

Since the horrific accident at the King Power Stadium on Saturday night I’ve read many comments to that effect in the media and on social media. The truth is though; there is death, disaster and heartbreak globally every day. We are surrounded by it and immune to it to an extent. Sadly “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.”

Of course the death of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and the four people who perished with him is a tragedy, especially for their loved ones. However, I think what really makes us put things into perspective is not the tragedy of the situation but the shock at the fragility of life. When something like this happens to somebody within our local sphere we are forced to reflect on our own mortality and how unexpectedly life can be snatched away from us in the blink of an eye.

This week Hamburg Hammer (HH) clearly found it difficult to know how to approach his article and he was concerned about discussing the ‘triviality’ of the game itself. He was worried that talking about Mark Noble’s red card and the frustration of Leicester’s late equaliser would seem crass and insensitive in the circumstances.

However, I don’t think that Mr Srivaddhanaprabha would have minded us discussing the game at all. He clearly loved football and Leicester City were much more than just an investment to him. I hope that his family can take some small comfort from the fact that his last emotion was happiness and elation as his team scored with only a minute left on the clock. Reflecting on the game itself is to discuss something that was very important to him and there’s nothing disrespectful in that.

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While the world of football reels with shock and Leicester fans are stricken with grief, I think the one positive thing that I can find to say about the tragic loss of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is that it has helped me to put modern football into perspective in a unique and optimistic way.

Ordinarily I would be reflecting on how ugly and ridiculous the professional game has become in commercial terms and just how unimportant it all is in the face of mortality and grief. Except the story of the commercialisation of Leicester City isn’t ugly or ridiculous. The thread running through every news report that’s emerged from this tragedy is how universally loved Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was by Leicester fans and this was because he invested so much more than just money into the club. It’s evident that he was a kind, humble and generous man who, despite being from a vastly different culture, had managed to maintain an old-fashioned family ethos at an English football club while leading them to commercial success. I doubt the words ‘commercial success’ were on his mind or that of any Leicester fan on that wonderful day in May 2016 though; I’m sure that all they felt was the elation of sharing that magical moment with their extended football family. Their story has given us all hope that money and integrity are not mutually exclusive in modern professional football.

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Ironically, while I was typing this piece my finger slipped on the keyboard and I accidently typed Kind Power. I stopped to look at it for a moment before I corrected it and I thought to myself “yes, that’s exactly what Leicester City had.” Thank you Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, your legacy was to bring something beautiful back into the game. May you and those who died with you rest in peace.


Parish Notice

Calling all book loving West Ham fans!

It’s hard to believe that over two and a half years have passed since we left Upton Park and anyone who’s visited the area since will tell you that a certain part of Green Street sadly looks very different these days.

While some local businesses didn’t survive the exodus of West Ham United one very tenacious enterprise that enjoyed a longstanding relationship with the club and our fans is still hanging in there just around the corner in the Barking Road.

Newham Bookshop celebrated its 40th birthday this year, which is no mean feat in the current literary climate; sadly over half of independent bookshops in the UK have closed in the last 12 years due to the growing competition from supermarkets and online booksellers. The bookshop was originally established by a group of local parents to provide an educational resource in the area and today it is a non-profit organisation owned by an educational charity and has a very strong relationship with the local schools. It was founded as a community bookshop and obviously a huge part of that community for 38 years were the fans, players and staff of West Ham United.

Over the decades Newham Bookshop has hosted many West Ham players, managers and related authors at events and signings to promote their books. The list includes the illustrious (and not so illustrious) names of Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Danny Dyer, Steve Bacon, Brian Williams, Jeremy Nicholas, Robert Banks, Iain Dale, Cass Pennant, Tina Moore, Brian Belton and Pete May. I’m sure that many of you have queued outside for the chance to meet one of your West Ham idols and to read the tales of their exploits and achievements; while for other bibliophilic Hammers browsing the overflowing bookshelves was no doubt a part of your match day routine.

During a recent interview for an article on The Spitalfields Life blog to celebrate the bookshop’s 40th year Vivian Archer, the shop’s manager for the past 33 years, said:

“When the West Ham ground was across the road, it was rammed here on a Saturday afternoon with football fans before and after the match. You couldn’t move in the shop for about two hours and we always did big signing sessions with footballers like Geoff Hurst and Trevor Brooking. Five hundred people came for Clyde Best last year.”

In May 2016 Pete May also interviewed Viv for his Hammers in the Heart blog for her views on West Ham’s departure from Green Street and what it would mean for Newham Bookshop. Viv recalled:

“The biggest signing was John Lyall just after they failed to renew his contract. They were hanging off the ceiling and he was a really nice man. Trevor Brooking spoke to everybody. Jimmy Greaves was lovely, but we had more Spurs fans than West Ham. The most unusual was Frank McAvennie before a Millwall game on a Sunday. He was a little late as he’d been out the night before, but it was a good signing even if it was a bit hairy because it was Millwall.”

Inevitably the shop has really missed our custom since we left Upton Park but evidence of the link between us is still there on the shelves as even now the sports section is heavily weighted with claret and blue tomes. There’s even a ‘timely’ clue that Upton Park was once the home of the Hammers above the till in the children’s section of the shop.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering where this article is leading. My reason for writing is to ask West Ham fans for your support for Newham Bookshop’s ‘Two Doors Down’ fundraising campaign. The adults’ section of the bookshop currently occupies 747 Barking Road and the landlord of that part of the premises is developing the flats above the shop and part of the shop itself into offices. This would mean that Newham Bookshop would lose one third of their space and it would cause huge disruption.

Fortunately serendipity stepped in when number 743, the shop adjacent to the other side of the children’s section, became available and the adults’ section of Newham Bookshop is now going to be relocated two doors down and relaunched this Christmas. However, before that can happen they need to raise £25,000 to cover the refurbishment and fitting costs because the empty shop is in a poor state of repair.

As I’m sure you can appreciate, this is a huge sum of money for a charitable organisation to find, so on Sunday evening the ‘Two Doors Down’ fund raising campaign was launched with a book auction at The Wanstead Tap in Forest Gate. The book lots were generously donated by authors and publishers and many of them were signed copies, including a copy of the recently published ‘An Irrational Hatred of Everything’ by Robert Banks which contained the signatures of all but two of the 1980 FA Cup winning West Ham squad. The auction raised over £3,000 for the cause, which was a great start but there’s still a long way to go.

In addition to the auction a Crowdfunder page went live on Sunday night so I’m appealing to those of you who used to frequent Newham Bookshop on match days and all the other book lovers among you to consider making a donation to an organisation which served our community for 4 decades. If you’re feeling especially generous there’s an opportunity to have a shelf dedicated in your name, which would mean that you would be immortalised in Upton Park just a football’s throw from the statue of our 1966 World Cup Heroes ….. not bad company to keep.

You can find the link to the Crowdfunder page here:

Newham Bookshop ‘Two Doors Down’

Thanks for reading.

Lids x


Guest Post

Showcase of WHTID Photographer Dawud Marsh

Guest Post by Dawud Marsh

Photography is my passion outside of following West Ham and I thought I’d share some of the photographs I have taken from our first season at the London Stadium. I actually really like the stadium because it offers such strong visual lines for someone like myself especially in the setting of the Olympic Park, which is actually really well planned and laid out. Even if the stadium lacks the same planning and careful thought as a venue for football you can always take a great photo.

I am happy for everyone here to share my images – as long as you credit me. If anyone would like a print I am happy to send a copy at cost price – framed or unframed just email me at dawudtmarsh@gmail.com.

If you’re interested in my photography – I am currently doing a lot of floral photos at the moment – you can pop over HERE

Hope you enjoy the photos.

Dawud


The Iron Liddy Column

The Way We Were ..... Try To Remember

Memories ….. light the corners of my mind .…. and the headers, the tackles, the mazy runs, and the goals.

It’s Mother’s Day and I’m sitting here reflecting on one of my Mum’s favourite records, in fact the only one I ever remember her buying as an EP when I was young, and it occurred to me that a modified line from Gladys Knight & The Pips’ 1975 hit would make a good epigram for an article that I’ve been mulling over for a while.

Some of the regular readers of WHTID will know that sadly my Mum was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a year ago and it was during my efforts to inform and educate myself about this cruel disease that I discovered that football is being used as a key to unlock dementia patients’ memories and to engage with them in a meaningful and therapeutic way.

In 2011 a social enterprise called Sporting Memories Network (SMN) was founded to run community-wide sports reminiscence projects. Their aim was to use archival sports images, reports, and memorabilia to engage older people in both stimulating conversation and reminiscence to promote mental and physical well-being. Sport is a powerful medium for many people, providing memories of great games, sporting legends and marvellous victories, but also the friendships made and the sense of community that playing or watching sports brings. Talking about sporting events and cultures of the time helps to give people their identity back and reconnect them to the people and generations around them.

The SMN initially ran a pilot project with fifteen care homes in Leeds to test and refine their approach. After receiving background training, each home was supplied with archival images and a training manual. The project was evaluated by Dr Michael Clark, Research Programme Manager, Personal Social Services Research Unit at the London School of Economics. In his evaluation report, Dr. Clark wrote:

“The Sporting Memories work is appealing to people and draws out enthusiasm and personal information that would otherwise have been dormant.”

His report noted a positive impact not only on the wellbeing of residents but also on the staff, as they too enjoyed hearing about great football games of the past.

In 2013 a dementia care unit was built close to Sunderland football club’s Stadium of Light. The Roker ward – named after the club’s former ground Roker Park – at Monkwearmouth hospital, provides 12 beds for men aged over 65 who have both functional and organic mental health needs. This unit replaced a ward in Cherry Knowle hospital in Ryhope, which previously successfully trialled sport as a focus for reminiscence therapy. The Sporting Memories Network worked with the ward staff to show them how they could use images of famous footballers and sports stars from days gone by as a trigger for conversation, debate and reminiscence.

Finding meaningful ways to connect and engage with dementia patients is always challenging. Football provides an alternative focus for men who are often reluctant to join in other group and reminiscence based activities. Memories of players, matches and sports events from 30, 40, 50 or even 60 years ago can become clear when prompted. Geoff Willis, the ward manager said:

“It’s often difficult to engage older men in meaningful activities but using sporting memories as a framework has worked for us; most clients are keen to share their memories about football. They become animated and passionate and have so much to tell you.”

The Sporting Memories Network ensures that new materials are made available on a regular basis to keep the sessions and conversations fresh. They now even publish a weekly reminiscence newspaper called The Sporting Pink based on the tradition of many city-based evening newspapers in Britain to produce a special weekly edition with football news, published each weekend known both colloquially and formally as the Pink ‘Un. They were printed by their mainstream newspaper on pink paper, hence the name. Some were included with Friday or Saturday editions, and some were sold separately. In addition to the Pink ’Un, a lesser number of such papers also produced a Green ’Un, printed on green paper, which covered horse racing. Going out to buy the Pink ’Un or Green ’Un on a Saturday evening was a tradition for sports fans across the country for many years. SMN’s The Sporting Pink newspaper is filled with archival sporting images and match reports for the staff to use for reminiscence.

As well as hospital centered initiatives the SMN also run community based projects in England, Wales, and Scotland which are volunteer led. Premier League, Football League, Super league, and County Cricket Clubs are involved in hosting and running some of the groups. Other venues include libraries, museums, social clubs, and pubs.

The network has gained the support of current and former sports stars including footballers Robbie Savage, Chris Kamara and Nigel Martyn; and David Coulthard, Ross Brawn and Nico Rosberg from Formula One. Sporting bodies such as the Professional Footballers’ Association, and the British Racing Drivers’ Club, are also supporting the work. Some of these sports personalities have added their own recollections to the SMN’s online database of memories which is hosted and maintained by the associated Sporting Memories Foundation

The SMN also works with professional sports clubs by raising awareness of dementia through scheduled league matches which are designated ‘Memories Games’. This aspect of the Sporting Memories Network work was acknowledged in the first annual report on the progress of the Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia and their work with Everton Football Club was published as an example of best practice in the Alzheimer’s Society 2013 report on Creating Dementia-Friendly Communities.

In a 2014 interview by The Telegraph Tony Jameson-Allen, a former psychiatric nurse and one of the co-founders of the Sporting Memories Network, said:

“Using sport to engage and interest elderly people with memory problems is a great way to help them feel alive again. Using football for reminiscence-based activities for older people has been very popular, especially among men; we get them together for 90 minutes once a week ….. we use images and photos to stimulate memories, and even serve Bovril and meat pies at half time.

“Every week, we publish a version of the traditional Saturday paper Pink ’Un. We added a spot-the-ball competition, and found that women were particularly keen. It seemed many ladies had a shared memory of not being allowed to fill these in, as husbands liked to mark where the ball should be.

“We’ve found older people would rather talk about which pub they went to on match day, rather than discussing topics of loss such as the War; sport doesn’t usually hold negative memories – they centre on community, humour and friendship instead.”

More recently, in November 2016 the Alzheimer’s Society’s initiative Dementia Friends launched their own football memories group to help combat the effects of dementia. The UK’s leading dementia charity is asking all 111 Premier League and English Football League and Women’s Super League clubs across England and Wales to run Dementia Friends Information Sessions.

Dementia Friends are working to ensure that football clubs are places where people with dementia and their carers feel understood and included; and to tackle the social isolation the charity knows often follows a dementia diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition so that people can feel involved and included in their communities and continue doing the things they love.

Dementia Friends Information Sessions will be delivered to match-day staff and stewards at clubs nationwide so that they understand what it’s like to live with dementia and the small ways in which they can help people on match days.

Speaking about the new campaign, Alzheimer’s Society Head of Policy George McNamara said:

“Life doesn’t have to end when dementia begins and people living with the condition should be able to continue doing the things they want to do, like supporting their football club, after a diagnosis.

“Football clubs, which are right at the heart of our communities, can make a real difference to the lives of fans affected by dementia by helping staff and fellow supporters become Dementia Friends.”

There are 1.7 million Dementia Friends and Alzheimer’s Society wants to reach four million people by 2020. Clubs across the nation, such as our fellow East London team Leyton Orient, are showing their support for people by staging Dementia Friends sessions. You can read more about these sessions here

Phillip Smith, Leyton Orient’s Health and Wellbeing Activator, said:

“We are pleased to be able to support Alzheimer’s Society in raising awareness of dementia in the local community of Waltham Forest. We are in a unique position to be able to engage with such a large number of people and as part of the wider health engagement plan the club and trust have developed.

“We are dedicated to improving and supporting the health of our fans and local community members. We want to ensure that fans living with dementia can continue to engage with the club both on match days and within our community sessions too.”

The family of England’s 1966 World Cup hero Ray Wilson, who played for Everton and Huddersfield, and is living with Alzheimer’s disease, is backing the Dementia Friends Football campaign.

Speaking about the campaign, Ray’s wife Pat said:

“Ray might be living with dementia but he still really loves going to watch football matches because the game is in his blood.

“He goes to Huddersfield games with our son, and like most fans he’ll kick and head every ball and make every tackle in his mind because he’s so passionate.

“Sometimes we noticed fans sat around him were a bit taken aback by some of the things he says and his actions, but the more aware of his dementia they’ve become the more understanding they’ve been which is really nice and comforting for the whole family.”

There are 850,000 people living in the UK with dementia which affects many household names like Ray and fellow World Cup winners Martin Peters and Nobby Stiles as well as many footballers who made their name during the 1970s such as former England international Stan Bowles. And of course it affects ordinary football fans like you, me and our loved ones.

Football is such an intrinsic part of British culture that it can also be a touchstone for members of our society who don’t necessarily have a huge vested interest in or passion for the game but they love the people who do. In a moving article he wrote for The Guardian in 2007 Pete May, West Ham fan, journalist and author, talks about football being the bond he still shared with his dad despite their political differences and the encroaching frailties of his dad’s old age. In the same article he talks about his mum’s relationship with West Ham and it’s one that I could relate to when he wrote:

“My mum went to West Ham v Man United in 1971, but was disgusted by the swearing. She always took an interest in the results, though, and became a proxy Hammers fan. We spent a horrible week by her hospital bedside in September. She had Alzheimer’s disease, needed a hip operation and had just been operated on for a burst stomach ulcer. But after two days in critical care, she came round. She was hopelessly confused, and kept worrying about where the family were going to eat, asking, “Shall we go to the Anvil [the local pub]?” Then she suddenly said “I support West Ham!” It was a sign that she knew I was there. Two days later, her body gave up and she died.”

My own mum isn’t really a huge football fan but she’s always taken an interest in West Ham’s fortunes because of me and I liked it when she affectionately used to say “you and your football, you’re as bad as your dad.” In latter years as she’s become more housebound she’s even taken to watching our televised games when she can, I think because it gave her a shared interest and something to talk about to me and Mr L. As her memory has deteriorated West Ham is still the first subject she thinks of when she wants to initiate a conversation with me about what I’ve been up to and I can’t help smiling wryly when without fail she responds to my latest Hammers news with “they play in that big place that you don’t like now don’t they?” Yes mum, sadly they do.

As I continued to explore the subject I discovered that directed reminiscence therapy based on football has also been adopted in Scotland and that group sessions have been held for sufferers and their carers in the Hampden Park Museum amongst the football artefacts and memorabilia in order to help trigger memories. Andrew Lowndes, of Glasgow Caledonian University, also a mental health nurse, described what happened at one such session:

“220 guys with their families and carers [were] there today. … and the recall from these guys is absolutely fantastic, people who are probably struggling day to day with their memories, but when you show them players from the 1950s and 60s they can rhyme the whole team off and tell you quite complicated facts about games and times when they went to matches.”

He went on to say:

“One of the most understated effects of dementia is the depression that accompanies it. If you are constantly being asked questions about things that you don’t have an answer for it can become very hard to cope with. Most times sufferers know that they don’t have the answer to something simple and that can bring on depression.
These sessions allow them to become a person again, feeling full and feeling they’ve got a connection with other people again with similar memories – this idea of everybody having a collective memory that they shared once upon a time on the terracing perhaps or in the pub after a match, they are able to re-engage with that. And the way that these men begin to engage with each other and the banter that flies around when they begin to do this, is fantastic and you see a glint in their eye; and family members tell us after the events that this was like having their man back again and it’s really very rewarding.”

The impact of football based reminiscence therapy is perhaps best summed up by the wife of a patient involved in the Alzheimer Scotland Football Memories programme.

She said:

“I drive here with this sad person with dementia and I take home my husband. He’s a different person when he comes out … it’s put new life into him, and you can see that with all the men there."

Thinking about the fact that these sessions took place within the setting of the Hampden Park football museum really served to compound my profound anger and disappointment that the current West Ham board took the decision to auction off our club’s memorabilia when we left Upton Park last year. They may only be dusty artefacts to some but for many older West Ham fans, especially those suffering from dementia, they could have been valuable portals to memories which would enable them to reconnect with their past and their present and give them back their sense of identity and self-esteem. Some of these items were procured with the assistance of financial donations by fans for the West Ham museum that was opened at The Boleyn ground in Bobby Moore’s memory on 23rd October 2002; and which silently and mysteriously disappeared ….. but that’s a story for another article.

Feeling very disgruntled with the club I decided to investigate whether West Ham may have redeemed themselves in my eyes slightly by engaging with the Dementia Friends project. While I couldn’t find any evidence of the club being involved in dementia programmes I did discover that the West Ham United Foundation have teamed up with an organization called Friends of the Elderly to host social events aimed fans over the age of 65. Back in March 2015 they ran a 5 week programme during which they invited older members of the West Ham community to share their memories and contribute to a sporting stories project at events attended by people connected to the club over the past 50 years. The programme also aimed to help senior West Ham fans learn how to stay connected to the club online.

In November 2016 the project was relaunched under the name Any Old Irons at an event attended by Julian Dicks and our goalkeepers Adrian and Darren Randolph. Run in conjunction with the Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association, the Any Old Irons project is part of the Football Friends programme. The initiative gives participants the opportunity to connect with other fans and local people in their community, bringing them together for fun and friendship. Again, those attending can also learn how to stay in touch with their fellow fans and the club using digital technology.

Don Adams, who’s 67 and from East London, took part in the first Football Friends programme in March 2015. After retiring six years ago, Don found there was nothing of interest for him to get involved with. He said:

“You hear so many things aimed at senior women but little for men. It’s a shame – the Football Friends programme has changed my life. It’s got me out of the house, it’s got me interacting with other people and I’ve made new friends.”

You can listen to an 8 minute BBC Radio London audio recording of the event here
, which includes an interview with Dicksy.

At the beginning of February this year the Friends of the Elderly Any Old Irons project was the subject of the Radio 4 Appeal which you can listen to here

The next Any Old Irons event is on Tuesday 4th April when West Ham fans over the age of 65 have been invited to share their memories with David Gold during a free afternoon tea at East Ham Working Men’s Club. You can find the details of this event here. Spaces at the tea are limited and will be allocated on a first reserved basis. Those interested in attending should call 0330 332 1110 or email hello@fote.org.uk

The dates for the next two Any Old Irons 5 week programmes are:

Wednesday 26 April – Wednesday 24 May
Wednesday 21 June – Wednesday 19 July

If you are over the age of 65 and interested in attending you can reserve a place via the same contact details. Telephone 0330 332 1110 or email hello@fote.org.uk
Please consider passing these details on to older Hammers, particularly those who you know aren’t connected to the club online. They’re probably the fans who would benefit from this the most.

I feel somewhat mollified by the Any Old Irons programme of events but I still think that a new West Ham Museum would be a valuable asset to our community, particularly in view of the empirical evidence unearthed by my research. We have an aging population and cases of all types of dementia are a growing concern. A properly curated museum would offer a permanent base for these valuable therapy sessions as well as other measurable benefits; but as I said, that’s a subject for another article.

I expect that a few of our younger readers stopped reading after the first paragraph or two. You may think that none of this is relevant to your life now but in what will seem like the blink of an eye you or your parents could be facing these issues too and football could prove to be the key that will enable you to open the door and step back into a past where you can find your loved ones again. You may roll your eyes, sigh and keep scrolling when another nostalgia article appears and all the old gits on WHTID start banging on about the good old days but one day soon these days will be your good old days too.

I’ll leave you with some sound advice from Gladys: Some West Ham memories are much too painful to remember …… so it’s the laughter we’ll remember, whenever we remember The Way We Were


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