John Hartson reveals favourite Celtic memory

John Hartson
John Hartson

By James Reid

Celtic legend John Hartson revealed Scottish Gas Scottish Cup victory with the Hoops is his favourite football memory.

Hartson sat down with Celtic fans with Alzheimer’s to reminisce on sporting memories as part of a session at Hampden Park run by Football Memories Scotland.

In partnership with Scottish Gas, fans used images and memorabilia from sport to act as a trigger for participants in an attempt to aid their short-term memory recall, with the Scottish Cup trophy in attendance at the session ahead of Saturday’s semi-final against Aberdeen.

And Hartson reflected on the powerful impact of sporting memories after taking part in the innovative session, in which he named the 2005 final that he started as top of his personal pile.

“Well hopefully it's had a big effect because I've been asked lots and lots of questions,” he said. “There's lots of gentlemen behind me, some of them suffer through Alzheimer's and memory loss and things like this, and I do think not just the elderly who've got Alzheimer's but even for myself, trophies can bring back great memories.

“For me, my favourite trophy was coming up here and lifting that cup. I've still got the photo on my wall in the frame somewhere in my house.

John Hartson won the Scottish Cup with Celtic in 2004 and 2005.
John Hartson won the Scottish Cup with Celtic in 2004 and 2005.

“When you win, you get that chance to go up that rostrum there and you get to lift that cup.

“Your family are in the stand. My parents are over there. My wife and my kids. So just to go like that, with the Scottish Cup, you know, that is the pinnacle of your career.

“I think when people are struggling with their memory I think it can bring reminders back. It can bring some really good times back for them.

“I think it's a wonderful thing that they do. They all meet up here, I believe it's every Thursday and they look at memories, and look at photos and it's a really good concept that they put on here for them.

“I think Scottish Gas have been fantastic this morning in bringing the Scottish Cup here. You can see the impact it's had on the gentleman and I hope now this weekend, I hope the four teams can create some great memories for their supporters.”

Football Memories Scotland run sessions across the country with the support of the Scottish Football Museum to help access sporting memories from the past and regional coordinator Robert Harvey revealed how he has seen fans with Alzheimers come alive when they see something they recognise.

He added: “It's really important to understand that when you talk about football and the context, Football Memories Scotland, the context, working with folk with dementia. It's not all about looking back the way, folk always think you're looking back at events.

“In actual fact, what you can actually do, is when families are there, maybe a granddad, grandkids, maybe his wife or his daughter and maybe someone who's struggling a bit with the memory. All of a sudden they come alive, when they see something that they recognise and they can talk about. And it's such a nice feeling to let that happen and see that happen.”

Jamie McGrath and Joe Harper at a Scottish Gas Scottish Cup and Football Memories Scotland event at Pittodrie Stadium, on April 15, 2024, in Aberdeen, Scotland. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)
Jamie McGrath and Joe Harper at a Scottish Gas Scottish Cup and Football Memories Scotland event at Pittodrie Stadium.

Celtic face an Aberdeen side who have experienced a disappointing domestic campaign, with the Dons currently ninth in the Premiership.

And midfielder Jamie McGrath is determined to create long-lasting memories for Aberdonians with a famous victory over the Hoops on Saturday.

“The potential of playing in a Cup final is massive for us, it's massive for the city, massive for the fans,” he said.

“When you look back in your career, you can make whatever money you want, but it's the Cup finals, the silverware you always remember. We all know what's at stake and to be one step away from a Cup final will be a huge incentive.”