A resident from a Perth care home has had more reason than most to be excited this festive season as his local football team made a visit in the run up to Christmas.
Bill Walker, 86, a resident at Balhousie North Inch North Grove Care home and former St Johnstone FC scout, along with staff, relatives and his fellow residents, welcomed a group of current and former players from St Johnstone FC to the home on Monday 13th December.
The players spent the afternoon with Bill and other residents having a cup of tea, chatting, debating football tactics and playing some games.
The visit has been organised by Football Memories, an award-winning national project aimed at helping people of all ages who would benefit from social interaction, from those living in isolation to people with conditions like dementia.
The local group for Perth, run by Saints In The Community, meet at McDiarmid Park every week where they enjoy football themed quizzes and reminiscing about memories of footballing days gone by.
An avid attendee of Football Memories along with a group of other residents with a love of the ‘beautiful game’, Bill was once a keen amateur footballer and a scout for St Johnstone FC in the early 1980s when Alex Rennie was the manager. His biggest signing was Don McVicar who won the First Division Championship with the Saints in the 1982/83 season.
A broker by trade and secretly a Rangers FC fan, Bill had trials for Carlisle FC and Aberdeen FC and played with former Scotland international Ian St John in the 1950s while playing at Douglas Water Thistle FC. While never quite making it to professional level, he played Junior football for many teams in the Perth area before hanging up his boots.
His all-time favourite player is Stanley Matthews who he said could “make the ball talk”.
Even though Bill has the early stages of dementia, his football knowledge is still encyclopaedic and it was this knowledge that led to him being approached to be a scout. Bill describes his weekly visits to Football Memories as “his favourite part of the week.”
“The activities are a challenge. They really get your brain ticking and I like having the chance to talk about football and sport with lots of people who love the game too. There’s a quiz and you get a drink and pie as well while you’re there. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the players here before Christmas. It will be a great day!”
Football Memories also provided activities for the residents who don’t have the same interest in football including shortbread Christmas tree decorating.