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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, July 30, 2002
    In the park opposite my house a group of lads are playing football. I know most of them: they live just round the corner; two were confirmed at our church last year, one is likely to be next year; they and their mates are a friendly lot, a rag-tag mixture of shapes and sizes that boys are around fourteen. They've put coats and a supermarket bread tray down as goalposts and they are trying 'set-pieces', standing in formation in a rough arc around the goal, one crossing the ball in, one flicking it on, a third attempting a shot. That's the intention, anyway.

    Now, my playing days are over and I was never that brilliant when I did play, but I have to say from my first-floor vantage point here, they're not very good. I've seen few crosses reach their intended target, many
    misdirected headers, and a very untroubled goalkeeper. Still, they're enjoying it just like I used to enjoy it during summer holidays and every available break-time right throughout secondary school. And watching them and writing this has been a welcome relief for me from putting together three funeral addresses and a 'wedding thanksgiving' service.

    In its Northants days Greenbelt held a five-a-side competition; I played once in a GB 'Board' v. Celebrities game and got the assist to our winning goal (if I remember rightly, Cole Morton finished it). Maybe we should revive the tradition - it would give me an excuse to get out across the road to get some practice in, in the intervening days when I need to do something to combat the midweek liturgical overload.