Welcoming our new Club at The New Croft!

As the Sporting Memories network of Clubs across Great Britain grows, we caught up with one of our newest sessions to launch in the form of the group held at The New Croft in Haverhill, Suffolk. 

The Club launched last month (June 2024) under the leadership of Lois Balfour and Kevin Horlock, the former Manchester City and Northern Ireland midfielder, at The New Croft. The Club is free to attend and runs every Thursday from 11:30am to 1:30pm.

Kevin began our conversation by detailing his previous experience of Sporting Memories.

“I put the groundwork (for a Sporting Memories Club) in place when I was at Needham Market before taking the idea here to The New Croft, as the community around here is huge and there’s a great opportunity to do something which people can be a part of.”

“The first session here was a bit ad hoc, and I led the session by mainly chatting about my career in football but since then it has grown quickly.

“One of the great things about the Club is the stories which people bring to the sessions, simply by opening up a conversation. I remember at that first session, I wasn’t sure how to kick-off so I shared a bit about my background in football, particularly at West Ham as I’m also a supporter, and that led to a gentlemen sharing his connection with Harry Redknapp, which then snowballed into another conversation with a lady at our club, who is a black belt in Judo and almost qualified for the Olympic Games.

“I was like Wow! It shows through just a simple starting point led to a fascinating series of conversations which came out of it. It also allowed us to learn about each other which helps with that bonding and friendship element too in the long run too.”

It is that power of connections through conversations which has inspired Kevin to see the impact the Sporting Memories sessions can have on those who regularly attend.

“I left my colleague Reece to lead a recent session with all the activities planned, and when I returned towards the end I could hear the group from a distance all chatting away.

“Reece apologised for not going through the initial planned activities, but the conversation just carried on naturally where an enjoyable and friendly spirit had been created, so it made complete sense just to let the members get to know each other and enjoy themselves through their time spent chatting away.”

The Club has grown in numbers since its launch in June (2024), in no short part thanks to The New Croft’s walking football members taking an interest in attending the weekly sessions. Kevin has also been enthused by the Sporting Memories Club members desire to get stuck into a range of activities during their time at the Club.

“The group seem really keen to do all kinds of things with us; I’ve been speaking with Ben who is our Physical Activity coordinator at The New Croft, to see if we can do some exercise sessions with the members.

“Also, they said they were keen to do quizzes and other activities to make the sessions interesting. So, already you can see the enthusiasm having Sporting Memories has made on those that come along and hopefully we can grow that as we go along.

“One example of how much interest the group has created within The New Croft itself is that a daughter of one the staff members here plays darts at a national level, and one of the members suggested getting her to a session, so we’ve already brought her in to give the members a darting masterclass!”

With the Club just starting its journey, Kevin was keen to reiterate his desire to see the Club increase its membership and encouraged older people across Haverhill to come along to their weekly sessions.

“I want us to grow as time goes on and to develop a range of fun and exciting activities which keep everyone stimulated and enjoying the sessions. Ultimately, I want the Sporting Memories Club to be somewhere where people can feel safe and talk about anything if they want to, whilst building friendships and doing things which are good for them through sport.”

The Sporting Memories sessions at The New Croft in Haverhill, Suffolk are run each week on a Thursday between 11:30am to 1:30pm. If you, or a friend or loved one, would be interested in attending a session, get in contact with The New Croft via info@thenewcroftfoundation.co.uk

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