Seeing the person behind the diagnosis: Cherry’s football memories with her dad

October 30, 2020

With the Premier League 2020/21 in full swing, we spoke to Cherry about the fond memories she has around her father’s love of football, and how his love for the sport continued after his diagnosis of dementia.

Cherry was supported by Admiral Nurse, Rachel Korosi, following her dad’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, a subtype of dementia.

Growing up in Aberdeen

“I used to go to every Aberdeen FC home game with my dad and grandad from age 5 to 11, until we moved away from Aberdeen. I particularly remember a friendly against Manchester United. Aberdeen had sold Martin Buchan to Manchester United, so they arranged a friendly match. It was the only time I saw George Best play live. He was booed by the Aberdeen supporters, but not us! This was in 1972.

I also remember a few games against Rangers and Celtic when the crowd could become ‘a little agitated’. As it was all standing the crowd could be intimidating and there was a risk of crushing and being trampled. I was then lifted off my feet by dad, and ushered to the exit to escape the crush. He was very protective of me.

Cherry's dads football team

Cherry’s dad is in the front row, third from the left. Circa 1953.

Dad was a good player himself, and his main claim to fame was that he was offered a professional contract with Huddersfield Town, at the same time as Dennis Law. This was in 1955, when Dad was 21. He turned it down as there was no money in the game at that time, and he wanted to propose to my mum, so needed a steady job.

Cherry's football memories with her dad

A visit to watch Man United v Crystal Palace, November 2014. From left to right; Cherry’s son Jamie, her dad, her dad’s nephew Philip on a visit from Canada, and her husband.

Dementia diagnosis and Admiral Nurse support

In later years, he enjoyed watching football on television, particularly Manchester United. This is the club both my sons support, so he bonded with them over football. He also hugely enjoyed visits to Old Trafford with my husband, Rob, and younger son, Jamie, until a year before he died.

Even after his diagnosis, he never really lost his love for the game.

I am so grateful to have had the support I did from my Admiral Nurse, Rachel Korosi during this difficult time. When we were given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2015 for my dad, it felt like so much of his life was overshadowed by this and all the related problems of loss of communication and cognition. When we watched football together, we could focus on a shared interest, and enjoy it together. Rachel was keen to emphasise the positive in this, to never forget who the person behind the diagnosis is, and enjoy the times when we could share his interests.

Focusing on the person behind the diagnosis

Football is still very much part of our lives with my husband and son watching it regularly. We talk about my dad often and football is a great platform for us to do that; all the matches we went to with him and all the games he enjoyed, both before and after the diagnosis of dementia.”

Cherry’s Admiral Nurse Rachel explains how important it is to see the person behind the diagnosis: “When looking after someone with dementia it can be easy to get bogged down with the strain of caring and forget about connecting with the person behind the diagnosis. Everyone has a life story, interests, hobbies and passions. Supporting people with dementia to connect with their interests provides stimulation and enjoyment, it can really improve their quality of life. If the person you are caring for is having a bad day, try starting a conversation about their interests and see where it takes you.”

Cherry's dads football team

Aberdeen amateur team Cattofield FC. Cherry’s dad is in the front row third from the left.

Admiral Nurses

When things get challenging or difficult, Admiral Nurses work alongside people with dementia, and their families: giving them one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions

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Dementia Helpline

Call our Dementia Helpline for free on 0800 888 6678 or send an email to helpline@dementiauk.org

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