Some of you will know of my passion for the ‘beautiful game’ of football. I usually try to keep it out of this column for the sake of those who aren’t interested, but this month I have given in. I hope you’ll bear with me for this occasional indulgence.
The end of the football season brought mixed emotions for me this year. On one hand there was the excitement of promotion at Havant & Waterlooville, the club I have the privilege to serve as Chaplain. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster at Westleigh Park over the last few years. After twelve years playing at the same level, there was relegation in 2016, cancelled out by promotion in 2017 and superseded by another promotion this year.
Next year ‘The Hawks’ will be playing in the National League, a higher league than they have ever played in before, and just one level below the promised land of the Football League. Exciting times.
On the other hand, West Bromwich Albion, the team that I have supported for nearly 50 years were relegated from the Premier League after a spell of eight years playing at the top level. It has, quite frankly, been an awful season for ‘The Baggies’, but the blow was softened by an amazing final six weeks, ushered in by the appointment of a temporary head coach, Darren Moore.
That’s a name that might be familiar to Pompey fans. Moore spent two seasons playing for Portsmouth before moving to West Brom in 2001. His name might also be familiar to supporters of Faith and Football, the charity that does so much outstanding work in Portsmouth, and is particularly associated with Linvoy Primus.
When Faith & Football began in 2002, as well as the ministry in Portsmouth, a similar work was begun in Handsworth, the part of Birmingham where Moore had grown up, just a couple of miles away from The Hawthorns, where West Brom play their home games.
Moore has been a coach at the club for some time, but when he was given the senior position on Easter Monday, the atmosphere at the club was transformed. How? Well in a way it was quite simple. Moore knows most people who work at the club, but he also values everybody. He sees everybody, whatever their role, to be an essential part of the team, whether they’re scoring goals or painting fences.
He encapsulated this in three short words. When he was being lauded and was even awarded the Premier League Manager of the Month award for April, he said that it was all about “we not me”.
His words remind me of Paul’s words to the first century church of Corinth, “You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” Whatever part we play in our church, our society, our team, we are equally valued by God, and so we should value each other equally.
“We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” (Romans 12:5)
Revd Andy Wilson
Vicar, Christ Church Portsdown
Joint Area Dean, Havant
Chaplain, Havant & Waterlooville FC