Paul and his family at Wembley wearing Nottingham Forrest kits

Dad and I have shared unforgettable football memories, even since his dementia diagnosis

Paul Lindsay and his dad Richard, 78, are lifelong Nottingham Forest fans. Richard was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2022, but still enjoys going to games and reminiscing about memories following his team.

From a very young age, football played a huge part in my strong bond with Dad, as is the case with so many fathers and sons.

Dad started taking me to Nottingham Forest in 1981, just after the famous back-to-back European Cup wins, so we had some fantastic players at the time. 

Money was a bit tight back then, so me and Dad would wait at the gates, as 20 minutes before the end of the game they'd open them and you could get in for free. We watched the last 20 minutes of every home game that season. 

Paul and his dad are arm in arm and dressed with full Nottingham Forest merch

Football has been a huge part of our lives

Eventually we ended up getting season tickets and shared so many happy memories over the years, home and away. 

We were at Wembley for both League Cup wins at the end of the ‘80s, and saw the likes of Roy Keane come through under Brian Clough, but it was the little things too – going for a drink before the game and that sort of thing. 

My favourite memory is when we went to the Championship Play-Off Final at Wembley in 2022. We’d waited 23 years to be back at Wembley. 

Me and Dad had both said we wouldn’t go to the new Wembley until we could go with Forest – as it turned out, we were one of the last teams in the country to play there! But it was worth the wait, watching Forest get promoted back to the ‘promised land’. Dad was ill by that point, but it was a special moment to be stood there together with him holding my hand. 

Football came into Dad’s work too, in tragic circumstances. He was a senior social worker at Sheffield City Council at the time of the Hillsborough disaster. 

Dad went on duty for 48 hours to work with the families at the disaster – it was one of the only times I ever saw him cry, but I’m very proud of what he did for those families.

Getting a dementia diagnosis was a relief

Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease two years ago. We started to notice things weren’t right in 2018 – Dad would say he’d come round to see the family but then he’d forget. Things would go missing or turn up in weird places. We even found a pair of socks in the fridge, which we had to laugh about or we’d cry.

I think he was probably in denial in his own mind, but we as a family probably were too, not wanting to believe it was happening. A lack of knowledge about dementia contributed to this too. 

It took a long time to get Dad diagnosed, but once that diagnosis came things changed – it came as a relief as we could bring in resources and the support he needed. 

Alzheimer's Society were quickly in touch and helped me and my sister put in place the things needed to support him. He now accesses day services twice a week, giving my Mum some much-needed time out. Mum was also signposted to useful support like Dementia Cafés, where she could speak to people who could understand. 

It's why it’s so important for me now to give back and encourage people to push for a diagnosis if they’re concerned – it’s important people get diagnosed quicker to open the door to support. In April I’m starting a fundraising walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats in support of Alzheimer’s Society.

Paul and his dad smile into the camera

Football remains important to Dad

Me and Dad still go to Forest now, though he often can’t remember from one minute to another, which means he can’t keep up with the score. But for Dad it’s all about still feeling included – he still recognises the red and white of Forest and loves the feeling being in that crowd creates.

And when I go round to watch football on the TV, you can see him come alive – it evokes the memories of sitting on the terrace together. 

The conversation can sometimes get a bit dry when talking to someone with dementia, but talking to Dad about our football memories is really amazing. Even now, remembering some of the things “Cloughy” would say gives Dad a good chuckle.

Whether it’s watching or talking about football at home, or going to the games (my kids come along with us now too), it all helps to give Dad happy days and put him in a good mood.

Sport should be unforgettable

We're working across multiple sports to help fans better understand symptoms and take the first step in seeking an all-important diagnosis if they, or a loved one, may be experiencing signs of dementia.

Find out more about our work in sport


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