Stoney Rovers are welcomed to the Football Memories League

Stoney Rovers meet at the Invercarron resource centre
Stoney Rovers meet at the Invercarron resource centre

A new football team has been started in Stonehaven, but this particular one is slightly different to any you may have seen before.

The Stoney Rovers are the latest team to join the Football Memories League.

This league has no promotion, no relegation- and no reconstruction debates!

It is made up of over 55 teams all across Scotland, formed as part of the innovative Football Memories project organised by Alzheimer Scotland.

After only one year of national operation, this programme to help people with dementia by using football images and memorabilia has met with incredible success.

Over 86,000 people in Scotland are diagnosed with dementia - that is the equivalent of every spectator on an average Scottish football weekend.

Demand for the project is huge, as it seeks to harness the passion for the game felt by so many Scots.

The Football Memories project is helping people with dementia by reviving memories of players, matches, goals and incidents from football matches in their younger days.

A joint project between Alzheimer Scotland and the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park, it has attracted almost unprecedented levels of interest and involvement from fans and players alike.

The website has seen contributions of stories from footballers, rock stars, film actors, journalists, politicians and ordinary supporters all across the country.

To date, nearly 60 Football Memories groups have been established across Scotland, from the Shetland Isles to Stranraer,w here people gather to enjoy looking back at old photos and memorabilia.

The Stoney Rovers have met three times and a team of enthusiastic local volunteers help bring back the memories of Scottish Football Legends such as George Young, Charlie Tully, Paddy Buckley, Billy Steel, Lawrie Reilly and Willie Bauld.

The team have chosen purple as their team colours and they meet on the second Thursday of each month in the Invercarron Resource Centre in Stonehaven.

Sarah Duff of Alzheimer Scotland said: “We are just delighted to be part of the Football Memories League and we are amazed at how successful the group is.

“Once a month a small group of our service users get together and relive their football memories. There is such passion and excitement in the group and the time seems to disappear in a flash.

“We are delighted to have been given this opportunity and very grateful to Michael Whyte for organising it and to the volunteers who help with the “Stoney Rovers” making it the success it is.”

Their recall of matches and incidents is spectacular. Details of scores, scorers and even moves leading to goals are recalled, and the banter and humour is incredible.

Several key people in Scottish Football have been only too willing to become supporters, and Sir Alex Ferguson, former UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh, ex-Dons boss Craig Brown, Lawrie Reilly, Craig Levein, Billy Stark, Davie Weir,Sandy Jardine and Willie Miller are among those who have given their backing to the project.

The work is also backed by the SFA,Scottish Professional Footballers Association, the Scottish League Managers and Coaches Association and the Scottish Highland League.

The level of detail in the recall of the men attending can be quite spectacular, and the project aims to record many of the stories which emerge for future use and to avoid part of the nation’s football heritage being lost forever.

Images kept in scrapbooks and albums are shared and downloaded for use in sessions. Several former players are involved in the groups and their stories add a new dimension to the sessions.

Many players and supporters are helped to create Memory Books, illustrating their own careers and experiences.

The production of Legends Cards has started and it is hoped to have a set of 60 cards on every club covering the period from 1945 to 1978.

Images and collections are being made available online to those who join the Football Memories League and there have been enquiries from expatriate Scots and their families.

The project is based on volunteer involvement and the Football Memories team train volunteers to deliver sessions in their own communities.

The people using the service meet in day centres, community halls and in care homes and hospitals.