Scott Perry was Dave’s oldest friend. They both grew up in Portsmouth and started going to football matches together from around the age of 14, and continued to do this even when they both moved away from the city.
“We followed Portsmouth together through the FA Cup finals all the way to being relegated to League Two, going through the highs and lows of football and of life together," said Dave.
“Football was our escape. A chance to get away with mates and follow something we feel passionate about. At times, it was the things Scott did feel passionate about, like Portsmouth, that kept him going. If one of us was feeling a bit down, we would plan our next away day to give us something to look forward to.”
Dave and Scott spoke openly about mental health to each other and Scott struggled for a long time, admitting to Dave at the age of 16 that he’d attempted to take his own life. Despite feeling like he could reach out to Dave, and it being a time when it seemed like he was getting his life together, Scott took his life in February this year at the age of 24.
Dave reflects that: “Just because someone seems ok, it doesn’t mean that the demons aren’t there because we can’t see inside someone’s head. If anyone thinks something isn’t normal or quite right with a friend, just speak to them and ask more than once.”
He also believe strongly that more awareness about the services on offer for people with mental health problems, such as Mind’s Infoline, is crucial and that the stigma around using services needs to be addressed: “It’s really just someone to listen to what’s going on in your head and help you understand.”
Dave’s football shirt has Scott’s nickname ‘Play Up Perry’ and the number 24 on the back, the age Scott was when he died, memory of his friend and is passionate about breaking down the stigma around talking about and getting support for mental health problems. “I really want to share Scott’s story more widely as I know there can be a lot of difficulty opening up about mental health, especially among men. If I can help one person by sharing Scott’s story it would be incredible. It would make sure everything he suffered through won’t be in vain”