Lessons from the ‘beautiful’ game

Watching football on the laptop last week, I noticed a sign fixed to one of the stands. It read “MUFC Religion”.

The ground, of course, was Old Trafford and the club, Manchester United. I have been a fan of the club since, as a boy of 10 years, I read about the Munich air crash and the decimation of that team, known as the “Busby Babes”.

My (only) claim to fame is to have seen George Best and Bobby Charlton play. I have realised that football is a religion to some folk, but to see that sign in large letters as part of the club’s trappings is disappointing. The word ‘religion’ is based on the Latin for ‘to bind’.

One definition is ‘a recognition of a higher, unseen, controlling power’. Another is ‘any system of belief or worship’.

The trouble comes when we substitute any interest or activity for God. In so doing, we invert the rightful order of priorities.

To what do I bind myself? A football club! What is the most important element in my life? A football club!

Where do my emotions and loyalties lie? A football club.

But God is the source of our life, the means by which we live, breathe and have our being. Demoting God means that our ultimate point of reference in this life changes to something inferior to Him.

A great saint once wrote, “Lord, you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you”.

I will support MUFC to my dying day but try to keep in perspective all my worldly interests.

The worship and service of God is the priority, from which all else flows, including football.