While the majority of home fans left Blundell Park disappointed after defeat to Cambridge United on Saturday, one man left with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.
James ‘Jimmy’ Thompson was in attendance in the Main Stand, spotted by some who remembered his wing back like approach at full back for the Mariners in the 1960s. Indeed, Cambridge United fans would say the same of a player who made more than 100 games for them after returning from South Africa in 1969.
Sadly for Jimmy, though, many of his memories of playing for the Mighty Mariners are lost to the onset of Dementia. His appearance recently at the weekly Sporting Memories group at Blundell Park came on the back of information that he could remember nothing of his time at that very stadium but had some memories of his time at Cambridge United.
Fast-forward two hours later and, with the help of other session members who’d watched him play, he remembered the back four that he played with at Town. A number of times he mentioned Williams – Clarrie Williams, who also played for Town and was in fact Jimmy’s cousin.
After discussion with family and care-givers a match-day visit between his two old clubs was arranged. Along with his friend, George Croft (82), Jimmy entered the Main Stand in exactly the same way he would have done some 50-odd years ago – via the players’ entrance.
Activities coordinator Kellie, with Jimmy Thompson
The smile grew broader as he caught a glimpse of the pitch and that grew as he went pitch-side for a few headers before settling down on the home bench to watch the players warm up. His eyes lit up as he began to sing football songs of the 1960s and George reminisced about the boys’ section in what is now the Lower Young’s with the ‘loud bell’ a prominent memory of his time in there.
With the help of care-givers and the milder weather, both men watched the whole game, enjoying every minute of it. Memories were evoked today – they may not be there tomorrow, but that doesn’t matter because the smile will be.
Treasure the memories, the good and not so good, because none of us know how long we will hold on to them.
If you would like further information or help with signposting on caring for somebody with Dementia then please contact local charity Friendship at Home on 01472 602500.
Sporting Memories sessions are held at Blundell Park in the Lower Young’s bar every Wednesday 10am to 12pm. To find out more about the group please email Kristine@marinerstrust.co.uk