(The Original)

Amateur Scribe

Christian Football: Playing for the God Squad

"I definitely want Brooklyn to be christened, but I don't know into what religion yet."

David Beckham

Jesus

Jesus was so rubbish he resorted to playing with girls

Ah, the amateur football leagues: Inelegant mud-strewn battles on the windy wasteland of Hackney Marshes; Bruisers in undersized shorts clattering into knee-high challenges on puny playmakers; Grey-faced over-indulgers puking on the touchline; portly landlords in ill-fitting trench coats barking orders from the dugout: “Put ‘im undahhh!”; and: “’Ow much do you wannit, eh?”; or even; “Break ‘is fakking knee-caps, you caaaant!”

Not for me, this base, clichéd excuse for sporting endeavour. Football is the beautiful game and deserves to be celebrated accordingly.

I’ve always been reluctant to admit this - spent years mumbling evasively when asked which league my team plays in. No more. For I play in the Chiltern Church Football League and am proud to do so.

That’s right. I spend my Saturday afternoons showcasing my dubious skills in the Buckinghamshire area’s premier Christian football league.

And in the decade or so I have been turning out for Dynamo Botley (we are the only team in the league not affiliated to a church - our opponents may be God-fearing, but they clearly have no imagination when it comes to interesting handles), I have remained comfortably agnostic, but also developed a more conciliatory opinion on all things religious.

But there is, I fear, still a stigma attached to religion and I am as guilty as anyone in perpetuating it. Even when we are short of players, I will fail to ask my mates if they fancy a game for fear of their snickering during the short prayer we hold while gathered solemnly round the centre circle.

”Dear Lord, thank you for the chance to play football,” the designated spokesman will aver. “We pray You keep us free from injury and help us play in the right spirit, in a way that is worthy of Your honour. In Jesus’s name, amen.”

Whether the standard of football is genuinely of a calibre befitting the creator of all humanity is a moot point, but there has been an uncanny dearth of ambulance-on-pitch incidents in the 10 years I’ve been playing - indeed, the worst I have ever sustained (touch wood) was a slight hamstring strain in 1997 - so maybe there’s something useful about a little pre-match peace offering to the Big Guy.

So no more embarrassment. I play for the God squad. Deal with it.

But let’s go further. To all the think tanks and high powered fellows who have been developing ways to bring the country together; ways to reconcile the lost Muslim youth with his Christian brother: Scratch outreach programmes and trendy liberal inclusiveness. Has anyone thought of battling it out on a muddy pitch in High Wycombe?

Actually, forget that. Dangerous ground. I’m fairly certain that if Muslims are so vehemently against satirical images of their Prophet, they will not take too kindly to gentle digs at his footballing ability. I have no desire to cause offence - my sarcastic Darwinist bluster has been dulled by 10 years of prayers before kick-off.

So the Muslims are out, but I’m certain the Sikhs would be interested - I’ve seen Bend it Like Beckham.

Thinking about it, the only way to solve this is to stage the Religious World Cup. All faiths select the best eleven available from their followers and the winners get church/temple/mosque bragging rights for the next Millennium. Can’t say fairer than that.

The World Cup of Religion

Christians

Odds 3-1 (fav)

The favourites for the Cup are an experienced bunch built around the solid defensive partnership of Steve McQueen and Chuck Norris. Discipline is a valid concern for the Christians – Norris has been sent off a record 57 times, usually for roundhouse kicks into the jugulars of his opponents. He also refuses to wear shin pads and invariably spends the half time interval wrestling water buffalo. Much will depend on the contribution of the experienced Langer who has been known to get the yips during big tournaments. The forward line looks short of firepower, but Fox clearly has an impressive pair of strikers (Gag © The Sun, 1984)

Santana

Santana: Solo juggling

Sid

James: Frisking in the box

strike duo and hold the post-war record for most mother-in-law gags told during a single ninety-minute fixture (167). Sid James is the undisputed master of frisking female opponents during set-pieces and cackling like a hyena with bronchitis.

Beck is the free-kick expert and global poster boy, while experienced defender John Travolta’s graceful athleticism and choreographed body-swerves are the envy of dance-floor denizens the world over.

Marx

Marx: Should really be playing on the left

Manager: Charles Darwin

David Attenborough

Ricky Gervais JP Sartre Bertrand Russell Sigmund Freud

 Noam Chomsky Gary Numan James Joyce E Hemmingway

Marquis de Sade Karl Marx

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