Ex-Stags defender Bobby Hassell has first hand experience of the horrors of dementia so knows just what an important cause the Kevin Bird Charity Game will be this Sunday (3pm).
“To be honest I don’t remember meeting Kevin but I knew he was a legend at the football club and held in high esteem,” he said ahead of his playing return at his old club.
“Phil Walker is putting together a game for a great cause so a big well done to him.
“Kevin has got dementia now and I know about it first hand from my family. I have had family members die in that state and it was horrendous to see.
“It will be a great day for Kev’s family and it’s fitting thing for the football club to put it on to celebrate Kevin’s time at the club and raise awareness of dementia.”
New research has suggested footballers are more likely to suffer from dementia in later life after heading balls so regularly.
“I have seen recently the FA are looking into it,” said Hasell.
“I think my time is a little bit different in that the balls that Kevin’s generation would have played with were a lot harder.
“The human brain is not designed to take that impact. I saw the recent documentary about American football which is similar about continual impacts to the head and how it causes that bleeding.
“It is a worry for players of my age and a little bit older. I think players probably wouldn’t want to know, but they have to be made are of it.
“I don’t know what they can do if it’s proven that continually heading the ball can cause these injuries. I don’t know how they’d get around it.
He added: “I am not so worried myself but it’s obviously going to be a big issue with all the studies being done and, in years to come, we find it has caused dementia. There are a few ex-Barnsley players suffering with the same thing.”
Hassell is expecting to feel reasonably fit to play in the game.
“I got so engrained in fitness and professionalism being in the Championship, I’m generally in the gym three or four times a week, doing 10k runs and a lot of weights. So I am generally really fit,” he smiled.
“Obviously it’s a lot different when you’re playing football. It’s a totally different fitness.
“I train every now and again with the 18s and 23s and I will do about three weeks with them before the game to get a bit of match fitness.”
With ex-Stags legend Kevin Bird now suffering from dementia, a special charity game at the One Call Stadium this Sunday (3pm) will see Kevin Bird’s Mansfield Town Legends & Guests take on the Once Upon a Smile team of soap stars and other celebrity names in aid of Once Upon a Smile and the Alzheimer’s Society.
Tickets for the Phil Walker-organised game are priced adults £5, children and concessions £3 and a family ticket (two adults, two children) £12.