As has often been observed by many wiser than I, life can seem rather like a football match, with its expectations, disappointments and occasional victories. And if life IS like a football match, is God the referee? Or the club owner? Who knows?
What I am pretty certain of is the Almighty’s displeasure at the recent conduct of a Liverpool player who, when not allowed to have a kick by a rather peevish eastern European fellow, bit him on the arm. This is disgraceful behaviour, although quite how a bite on the arm causes one to fall over, I’m not sure. Leg, perhaps, but arm? Actually, if memory serves there used to be a Leeds player called Norman “Bite Yer Legs” Hunter who ran about the pitch gnawing regularly on opponents’ calves. So, in a way, this recent isolated incident shows how far the Beautiful Game has come. Mr Hunter’s behaviour simply would not be tolerated these days.
To be honest, and I must be, its in the job description – I’m uneasy with the term “Beautiful Game”. Much of it is exceptionally skilful, but if you watch very carefully, some of the more boorish players spit regularly and, Heaven forfend, wipe their noses on their sleeves. Neither of these activities is even remotely beautiful. I am even more concerned about a certain Spanish manager who is known as “The Chosen One”. He said this weekend past that he would like to come home to where the people love him. What would Jesus have thought?
No, to my mind, cricket is the Beautiful Game – the version which features white shirts and trousers, a fine leg, a demon fast bowler, and batsmen who play up, play up and play the game. NOT, I hasten to add the dreadful 20/20 hybrid which in India features dancing girls between overs. What WOULD Jesus have thought about THAT?