FA Cup final weekends brings back memories not just of the football, but also a tradition that now seems to be sadly over: the good old FA Cup final song.
From ‘Ossie’s Dream’ for Tottenham with Chas & Dave, to the ‘Anfield Rap’ with Liverpool or ‘Here We Go’ from Everton, there was once a time when players from the finalists heading into the recording studio was as much a part of the day as the broadcasters filming on the team bus.
Wolves have even had a little musical dabble in cup competitions themselves, releasing ‘Wonderful Wolves’ when they reached the 1980 League Cup final and ‘We’re Back’ when reaching the Sherpa Van Trophy final eight years later.
Well it is just coincidence that ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ has been re-recorded by Wolves Foundation’s Head 4 Health participants and a video now released during the build-up to the cup final, because the project actually came together to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.
Head 4 Health is a project run by the Foundation thanks to funding from the Premier League, PFA, City of Wolverhampton Council and Wolverhampton CCG aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of men from the local area.
All are welcome, even those who support Wolves’ local rivals West Bromwich Albion, as shown by Trevor who has become one of the many who have benefitted from attending the group.
“It has been such a difficult time for so many people during the pandemic, and we adapted to online zoom calls and Walk & Talk sessions in the local park for Head 4 Health,” explains the Foundation’s Health & Wellbeing Manager, Rachel Smith.
“When we asked how they would like to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, it was the participants who decided they would like to do a song and video.
“Before we knew it, we were working with the fantastic band Junomoon in the RML Studios at Newhampton Arts Centre where the quality was so much better than what we could do ourselves.
“Seeing how they all came together on the project was amazing and guys who struggle with anxiety on a daily basis were really throwing themselves into it.
“Trevor did all the recording in his Albion shirt, well aware that he was putting himself out there to get a bit of stick!
“But the reaction we have had from supporters since we put his picture out has been fantastic and something which all of us really appreciate.
“Ultimately mental health is so important that it doesn’t matter what your background is or who you support, everyone is welcome at Wolves Foundation and the guys in the Head 4 Health group are always there to support each other.
“They properly stepped out of their comfort zone with the music video and I am really proud of them.”
Steve Maiden, health officer with the Foundation, was the main motivator working with organising the participants for the recording, but in the end, they didn’t need too much encouragement!
“The guys were absolutely brilliant and there was no hesitation at all,” Steve explains.
“Even when they came up with the idea, and we got to the recording studios, it could have felt really daunting.
“For people suffering from mental illness or struggling with their mental health it is easy to become overwhelmed or distracted.
“But to a man they all absolutely went full on for it, and it was brilliant to see.”
The photo of Trevor in his Albion shirt received a great response when it went out on the Foundation’s social media channels, which is hugely appreciated, and shows the value of shared support even amid the strongest of football rivalries.
“I had spent most of 2019 becoming quite ill with stress and in Christmas of that year my whole world collapsed,” Trevor explains.
“I spent the first month of 2020 totally isolated in a very bad place, feeling the shame, guilt and various stigmas of trying to speak to someone.
“I started going to Head 4 Health and found support which I haven’t previously received, and I know that if want to speak to any of the guys on the course they are in exactly the same boat as me.
“It is difficult because as men we are supposed to ‘man up’ and keep going but we’re not like that, we need help and support.
“And if me as a West Bromwich Albion fan came come to Wolves Foundation and get such fantastic support then surely anyone can!”
Two more participants who have shared their stories are John and Dougie, who have also found Head 4 Health such a vital and important experience.
“I had a really bad couple of years and towards the end of 2019 it got so bad that I actually disappeared and intended to take my own life,” says John.
“Someone put me in touch with Head 4 Health at Wolves, but it still took me a long time to get out of the car before the first meeting.
“I was sat there for 10 to 15 minutes and was on the verge of not coming in and ‘running’ away but I am so glad that I didn’t.
“This has done so much for me over the last 12 months, just to be able to talk with people and not be judged, and I know it will continue to be a tremendous help in the future.”
For Dougie, who returned to Wolverhampton in 2019 after 46 years away, he describes Head 4 Health as a ‘lifesaver’.
“It has been a struggle for me, but Wolves Foundation have offered marvellous support,” he says.
“I have met so many great guys and people I can go and talk to rather than keeping things bottled up by myself.
“The message is that you are not alone, and Wolves Foundation can really help.”
You may not hear it on Radio One, from the stands when fans return or indeed the Friday night Top of the Pops re-runs on BBC Four.
But the messaging carried via ‘With a Little Bit of Help From My Friends’ from Wolves Foundation’s Head 4 Health participants is certainly something which merits a wider audience.