To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Those Permutations.

Just musing upon the issue of what we give our thinking time to. This is in the light of so much discussion about those permutations today. Yes what if England finish first or second in their group. See here for one discussion of it all; but of course only look at the link if you want to waste ten minutes of your life (which you won’t get back) on inane trivia.

Mark Chapman on Radio 5 live at about 17:15 last year asked Chris Sutton a despairingly inane question about Sweden now being in a certain part of the draw which England may be in.

Now, I have my proneness to overly indulge in football which leads to a wifely rebuke from time-to-time, but I am just left pondering about how much thought time we give to trivia in contrast to the big issues of life.

“What is going to happen when I die?” is rarely asked or considered. But surely it is a bit bigger than England’s first or second place in Group G at the world cup or even if England actually win the world cup

I don’t want to be a kill-joy, but there just seems something wrong here.

It is not as if the football deliberations are a little diversion from consideration of the weightiest issues. No. this is just a further indication of what so many are pre-occupied with.; taht is things ultimately of no consequnce

And by the way why did Jesus Christ come into the world? Can I ask that you give five minutes to considering that today. In fact I think I will go and ponder on that for five minutes myself.

Steve Hansen Interview.

It was interesting to watch this interview with Steve Hansen after the All Blacks lost to The British and Irish Lions last Saturday. It seems to me that it should be compulsory viewing for all English Premier League (EPL) managers in the UK. What a difference to the usual griping, carping and complaining about the other team and the officials that you get in interviews from losing managers after EPL matches.

It is just beautiful to hear his straightforward acceptance of the decisions made by the referee and acceptance of the difficulties faced by the referee. And the captain Kieran Read comes out of it very impressively as well.

And I am left thinking about the impact of this sort of thing. It is so valuable because it reinforces the authority of the referees. He is the one in charge; he is the one who does his best to make decisions according to his best judgement. This attitude is picked up by youngsters, in particular, and a respect for referees is developed. And this is for the good of all playing the game.

In the EPL, with all the negative stuff against referees which is retailed by those who should know better, it leads to negative attitudes to referees which percolates throughout the game. So see here for a report on the perils of being a referee.

This leads me further to ponder upon the fact that Christianity is an authoritarian faith which flows from  a God who has established structures of authority for the wise government of his universe. We should always be supporters of those in authority. We should realise that when there is an undermining of those in authority then destructive forces are let lose.

So well-done Steve Hansen! Give Him a knighthood for services to decency!

Leicester City.

Everyone is writing about Leicester City at the moment. So here I add my own musings. I write specifically to ponder upon how a group of people can achieve success. I write without “inside information”, but as an outside observer. Much of what I refer to applies to any organisation, but I am particularly concerned about churches.


They do not seem to have been just a collection of individuals called together to do a job. Rather, they were unified in a cause and concerned to stand together for one another. This was reflected in the fact that they were all together at Jamie Vardy’s house on Monday when their triumph was confirmed.

In the purposes of God unity is a powerful thing. The Lord loves it when His people are together.(see Psalm 133). And Satan hates to see unity in God’s people. Leaders must cultivate unity. One critical way is the elderships operate so as to show harmony amidst their diversity. Unity matters


They appeared to be a happy and contented bunch. There seems to be a delight in being involved in what they were doing. This reflects particularly on the management. Claudio Ranieri seemed to have a unique joie de vivre and clearly was enjoying what he was doing. Dare I say it they all seemed to be having fun together. Taking them for a pizza after not conceding against Crystal Palace for example.

Oh how we need to cultivate having joy in the Lord and in His service in our churches. And the leaders must be so concerned to set an example and engender the atmosphere. If the leaders are not excited then it is unlikely that the church will be.


There was a fearless attitude to the way Leicester played. They seemed to be willing to try things without always being fearful that they would be condemned if it failed. However, my tentative observation would be that this was never rash.

In our churches we do not need rashness which can lead to all kinds of disasters. But we do need a holy recklessness. We need a willingness to take risks so as to see God’s cause go forward. Again the leadership has to take responsibility and be encouraging a spirit of stepping out in faith for the Lord. If you scan Scripture there are so many who did this. Noah building the ark, Abram heading to Canaan, Gideon fighting the Midianites, David taking on Goliath and of course the perfect and immense example Jesus our Lord going to the cross.


The way Leicester played was simple. Stop the other side from scoring and get the ball as quickly as possible to the other end of the pitch and have a go at scoring.

The gospel of our Lord Jesus is a “simple” message. It is not an easy message, but there are no complexities as regards to understanding how to embrace it and live it. Paul’s message in Ephesus was repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Acts 20:21). Everything in the Christian life revolves around those activities.


The appropriate people were in the appropriate positions on the pitch so as to maximize their effectiveness. Jamie Vardy was not at centre-half for example.

And so it should be in the church; round pegs should be in round holes. Everyone should be fulfilling the ministry that God has called them to. Again the leaders have a specific role in discerning people’s gifts and in making sure that everyone is able to be operating in a place and in a way according to God’s calling.


Football supporters have a strong sense of loyalty to their club. This is manifest particularly when a player sets himself to leave their club for one which offers, supposedly, bigger and better opportunities. As a general rule such a  player will receive a hostile reception when he returns to their original club. The motivation for leaving a club for that supposed better move is generally that of ambition.  The concept of loyalty to the original club is trumped by ambition to succeed, enhance reputation and gain honours. In the long run, I reckon, that players lose out because they have lost the honour they might have had at their former club. Someone like Trevor Brooking, who spent all his career at West Ham, would be honoured by that club and its supporters for sticking with the one club.

I wonder for example what has been the gain for Robin Van Persie by his move to Manchester United from Arsenal. Yes, he got one Premier League title, but how much more would he have gained in terms of honour and enduring affection if he had remained at Arsenal. Instead he is far from adored by many Arsenal supporters.

This all raises the issue of loyalty and what a beautiful attribute it is. I am not saying that someone should never change job or even move football club, but there is something very honourable in loyalty. It reveals a stability of character to be willing to stick with something through think and thin. It can also indicate that commitment to people means more than personal success or advancement. There is something essentially selfless about loyalty.

Of course loyalty to something sinful is to be abhorred. However, there is something wholesome in the selfless adherence to someone or something to whom you have made a commitment.

Goal Celebrators (Not)

It is interesting how we construct our morality in a society where the Christian undergirding of morality is being lost. One interesting one is where a player will not celebrate this scoring of a goal against his former club. It is said to be out of respect. So here are some thoughts

  • Why is it disrespectful to celebrate a goal against your former team? Your allegiance is now with your new team. You are employed by them; they pay you money. Is a former Google employee unable to celebrate publicly with his new Microsoft colleagues if they make a technological breakthrough at the expense of Google? I suggest not.
  • What about your team mates? A part of the team experience is to celebrate together. Your allegiance is to your new team; to your new team-mates. You are not being disrespectful to your old team. Rather you are being respectful to the labours of your new team mates and celebrating with them.
  • And what about the team’s supporters? Part of the experience of paying money to go to the game is to celebrate when your team achieves the goal of scoring a goal. And you see one of your players not celebrating their scoring of a goal. What is to be made of that?

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