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16th Sep 2019

Community Spirit still holding on at Bury as Gigg Lane plays host to new Sporting Memories group

Simon Lloyd

“They’ve taken our team, but can’t take our memories”

Bury FC Trust are to host a new Sporting Memories group, providing older supporters with an opportunity to share memories of the club and take part in physical activity.

Bury were expelled from the Football League last month after an attempted takeover of the financially stricken club collapsed. Having achieved promotion to League One at the end of the 2018/19 season, all of their scheduled fixtures for the new campaign had been postponed prior to confirmation of their expulsion.

Sporting Memories, a charity which uses sport to help tackle dementia, depression and loneliness in older people, had previously run a weekly group in Gigg Lane’s boardroom, only for it to be brought to an end due to a lack of funding. As part of work with Sport England, they have decided to start a new group, taking place in the Social Club outside the stadium.

There’s been a lot of uncertainty with recent events and we felt opening a new session at Bury, where he have already worked in the community, made perfect sense,” Andy Tysoe, Greater Manchester Coordinator for The Sporting Memories Foundation, tells JOE.

Obviously, this isn’t going to come anything like close to replacing the feeling of going to a match, but we hope it will keep a spark alive in a lot of people,” Tysoe adds.

“People tell us that it’s not just about the football match, it’s about meeting people before or afterwards and that feeling of belonging to something. 

“Bury supporters have had this ripped away from them, and so having something like this will, hopefully, keep alive that sense of remaining part of a community.”

Sporting Memories have grown steadily since the charity was founded in 2011, currently operating in excess of 100 groups across the country – all free and open to anyone aged over 50. All of their sessions encourage attendees to share their own memories of participating in or watching sport and provide opportunities to take part in physical activity.

“For older people, loneliness has a massive impact on their physical health as well as their mental health,” Tony Jameson-Allen, Sporting Memories’ co-founder, told JOE earlier this year.

“We want to make a difference with issues such as that, and that’s why we encourage people to attend who have no health issues whatsoever. They might just be big sports fans who don’t have much going on in their lives, and that’s absolutely fine.”

The next of the new sessions in Bury will be held in the Social Club at Gigg Lane on Tuesday, September 16. All sports fans – not just supporters of Bury – are welcome to attend.