Alf, 75, joined Any Old Irons – part of our Football Friends programme with West Ham United Foundation – in April 2017. The project aims to celebrate and explore the club’s rich history, and give those involved the opportunity to reconnect over their love of football.
Alf has been through a difficult time over the last few years, and he spoke very honestly to us about missing the companionship of his wife. Alf told us:
“I lost my wife two years ago unfortunately. We have always belonged to the East Ham Working Men’s Club, although I hadn’t been for some time since my wife died. But when I heard about Any Old Irons I decided to come along again. One good thing about Any Old Irons is that it has got me out to meet different people. All the people who come along to our meetings are all great, and it’s like I’ve known them for years.”
Alf has always been a huge West Ham supporter, with lots of memories of them over the years. Sharing them was the first step for Alf towards seeing new friendships blossom over the five weeks of Any Old Irons’ sessions. He said:
“I didn’t want it to end and it has been brilliant to continue to see everyone regularly at the monthly meetings that have followed on from the initial five-week programme. It’s made a huge difference to me; I’ve made lots of friends and I enjoy hearing stories from the others.”
Alf recognises that loneliness is a big issue for older men and openly speaks about his own experiences: Alf told us:
“Our local community has been struggling as lots of places are being sold up for private property. I like to go to the betting shop, but it is one of the only places older men go – otherwise I’ll just be sitting indoors. All this is adding to people getting isolated and lonely. It’s projects like Any Old Irons that are putting people back together, and it’s not only good for football, it’s amazing for the community. The friendships I’ve made will last longer than the five-week programme; it’s like I’ve known them for years and this is just the start of it for me. I would recommend it to anyone, and I would encourage them to take that step and come along to Any Old Irons.”
Find out more about Any Old Irons.