THE DREAM TEAM - with Tom Slemen

The shared dream is a peculiar phenomenon in the world of the supernatural. 

This is where several people seem to experience the same dream, and it’s commonly shared by partners sleeping in the same bed, but occasionally, incidents of shared dreams have been reported to me where unrelated groups of people, sometimes staying at the same hotel, or in some cases – individuals confined to the same hospital ward – have all had the exact same dream, and their details match with eerie exactness. 

It could be down to telepathy during sleep, but I have a few stories where it would seem that ghosts have deliberately caused these types of “communal dreams”. 

Around 10:40pm one evening at a well-known Liverpool hospital in December 1967, just a few days before Christmas, twenty-two male patients were settling down in their beds on a large geriatric ward, when in walked two men – one in a sheepskin coat and trilby and a smaller bald man in a pea-green suit who carried a notebook and pen. 

They went from bed to bed, asking the patients, “What team do you support?” and “What position did you play when you played footy?”

Some of the patients initially thought it was a stunt put on by the popular hidden camera reality television show Candid Camera, and when one patient - a 65-year-old Huyton man named Tony - was asked about the team he supported and if he played football in his youth, he answered: “Are you a specialist or a football scout? Why the daft questions, mush?’

Another patient named Frank Hargreaves, a no-nonsense Yorkshireman, answered, “Leeds – best team in the land. I’m a centre forward when I play, lad”.

The LFC and EFC fans on the ward took issue with the Yorkshireman’s bold assertion, but still the two strangers went from bed to bed, asking their bizarre questions and the little bald man with the writing pad noted the replies, and then the odd couple left. 

When the night nurse was asked who the two men were by the patients she said she had seen no such men on the wards at that hour and no visitors would be allowed in at that time, anyway.

“They weren’t scotch mist,” the Huytonian patient insisted to the night nurse, “we all saw them.”

“Well I better go and tell the porters in case they were a couple of robbers,” said the worried night nurse, and quickly left the ward.

By midnight the patients were all sleeping, and every one of them had the same dream. 

They were playing at what seemed to be a combination of Anfield and Goodison’s football grounds, and all the EFC patients found themselves in the royal blue kit and all the LFC patients were in the famous red kit – but Frank Hargreaves – the outspoken Yorkshire patient - was in the white Leeds kit, and for some reason he was on Everton’s side. 

Despite the bizarre set up, the lucid dream seemed to go on as long as a usual match, with a half-time break, and a few of the patients said to one another in the dream, “I hope I don’t wake up!” because they not only enjoyed the game, but they all unaccountably felt as if they were in the prime of life, even though most were well over seventy.

In the morning the nurse tried to control the patients as they talked excitedly to one another about ‘last night’s game’, and when she asked the men what game that was, they told her something very strange: they had all somehow shared the same dream in which they had played football on a full-size pitch. 

One patient, aged 78, was in tears, and he told the nurse, “I could run like a whippet! I had forgotten what it was like to be able to run.”

The doctors heard about the so-called shared dream and predictably blamed medication for the experience, but they then saw a vast improvement in the health and psychological wellbeing of the patients, and in the meantime, each night, when the ward lights were dimmed, the 22 men would drift off and find themselves playing to capacity crowds at the mysterious ground over in the Land of Nod.

The Huyton patient Tony met his father, George, who had died when he was forty, in one of the dreams. Tony’s dad had run on the pitch when his son had scored and had hugged him, and Tony was in tears when he had to let go of his father.

And then, after four nights in a row, the shared dreams stopped for good on Boxing Day. 

A porter at the hospital later cryptically hinted that the two strangers who had asked questions on the ward were the ghosts of two player scouts who had died many years before in a car crash. 

They say that sleep is better than medicine, and that in dreams – and love – all things are possible. The state of the mind in sleep is still largely mysterious, and it’s hard to explain the experiences of those patients, but they remembered those seasonal dreams of being fleet-footed soccer players till the day they died.

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