As it’s our wedding anniversary tomorrow, I’m sharing an article written by my beloved which was included in a Platinum Jubilee collection of stories from the community in which we live.

Phil’s a shy, retiring sort of guy, an introvert at heart but a teasing joker on the quiet. He’s also a man of integrity and will do anything to help somebody else.

He used to write poetry, too, in his impetuous youth, but now leaves that delightful task to me. So grab a coffee/tea/cool drink and let him entertain you today… 😉💜✍️⚽️

Keeping your eye on the ball

Many would say I had a privileged start to life being born into a family where all were active Christians. Some were missionaries, local preachers or church planters, and we had a Sunday school superintendent and church treasurer.

Yet along with this activity came the need to adhere to the then accepted application of the principle of being in the world but not of the world. This meant that much was forbidden to me as a young Christian because it was viewed as too worldly to become involved with, such as going to the cinema or attending football matches.

However, ideas and understanding change over time, and so we come to the subject which became an important part of my life and of my witness in the world. My eldest brother, Tim, my uncle, Paul, and I were all keen footballers.

When my uncle planted a church in a local estate, we came to the decision that we wanted to reach out to the local people and encourage the mixing of the planted church, South Park, and the parent church of Surrey Chapel. We decided that one of the best ways to do this was by organising a twice-yearly football match between the two churches.

So on Easter Monday, and Boxing Day, the churches would go head-to-head at the local park, supported by the enthusiastic, cheering congregations. At one game, I literally swept Joy off her feet with a flying tackle on the opposition’s winger that took me over the sidelines and accidentally knocked her sideways. Thankfully, neither of us was hurt, though some people thought it was a deliberate move as we were dating then.

A few years later, other churches in Norfolk heard about what we were doing and approached us to see if their church could join in. It was decided that this would be a good way forward and a group of us established the Norfolk Christian Football League which grew rapidly.

It was at this point that Bishop Maurice Wood, who was a keen Norwich City supporter, set up what was to become the Knockout competition for the Maurice Wood Challenge Cup, and I was fortunate enough to be the captain of my team and the first to reach the final which was played in front of a large crowd at Carrow Road. I had the great privilege of lifting the trophy that day.

The importance of the original idea many years earlier must not be underestimated because although it started out with just young attendees from two churches, it opened the door to many youngsters who had never been to church at all and yet were keen to play football.

God opened a new door into the church, and we were only too pleased to welcome any who wanted to come in. As we began each game with prayer, it was also a witness to any who were passing by. It continues to provide a witness over 50 years after it began.

I played as a teen and gave up at the age of fifty because Joy needed more help and support at home. Though some of the players called me Moses because of my beard, I was still fit enough to run rings around them! 🙂

The Surrey Chapel football team with “Moses” ringed in red!