Football was my first love!
Growing up through my teens in the 60s, it wasn’t the Beatles who captured my heart, but football, and as everybody knows,
1966 was the year England won the world cup!
Whatever the weather, I’d spend hours after school, at weekends and in holidays, kicking a ball about on the local rec with my
friends John and Trevor and anybody else who wanted to join in.
Bill Shankly, former legendary manager of Liverpool FC, once said: ‘Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure you that it’s much more important than that.’ I may not have gone quite so far as him, but playing, watching, reading about, talking football and collecting the autographs of star players such as Bobby Moore, Jimmy Greaves and Denis Law, was a big part of my life.
My mum died when I was 6 and at 12, with my two older brothers, I went to live with an aunt and uncle in Sowerby Bridge. Through them I was privileged to hear what many children are denied – the teaching of the Bible, in Sunday School and church. This seemed to make little impression on me and certainly didn’t deflect me from my first love, football!
But then, in my mid-teens, just as I was starting out on my working life, I became a Christian. It happened without drama, but with conviction and marked a clear change of direction for me. I realised that I’d broken God’s law – the Bible calls this sin. I needed to get right with God. I found that he’d provided a Saviour for me in his Son, Jesus Christ, who’d given his life in my place on the cross, paying in full for all my sins. I put my trust in him.
All this is a very long time ago! Life’s moved on and the years have rolled by since my teenage conversion. Football still holds an interest, especially my local team FC Halifax Town. But it can never occupy the place it once did in my life; the beautiful game can’t begin to compare with the beautiful Saviour, Jesus Christ, my Saviour and the one I’ve been glad to serve all these years.
The good news is that he invites you, reader of my story, to come to him and discover him to be your Saviour, the only one who can make you right with God. It was Jesus himself who said: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6).