“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.”
According to Bill Shankly, the legendary former Liverpool FC manager of the 1960s, football is everything. Fixtures are the dates to live for, the transfer window is what we look for, the goals are what we breathe for; and the trophies are to die for.
Most of us might struggle to wholeheartedly agree with Bill. There’s more to life than the Champions League, even more to the weekend than Match Of The Day. But many of us may be able to relate to the passion, emotion and nostalgia that watching or playing this sport can evoke.
It’s a beautiful game. Football has an inclusivity for anyone and everyone who wants to enjoy it. No single player is enough on their own without a team around them. The highs and lows are experienced together.
Ten years ago, a few Kingston students from Cornerstone Church shared a similar sentiment that echoed a different Bill Shankly quote. He once said, “What a great day for football. All we need is some green grass and a ball.” Whether it was raining or shining, bitter cold or sweltering hot, the group of lads started informally playing together on Saturday mornings with nothing but a ball in the park and their rucksacks for goalposts.
Today, as many as sixty men of all ages have been known to turn up at one time for the same friendly kickabout. Every Saturday between September and June, dozens from the local community meet on Kingston’s Fairfield Recreation Ground for this open football session. It’s a welcoming environment for anyone and everyone, of any footballing ability, to come and play together - a grassroots community event that has simply grown through word of mouth.
Many of the same original players still run, what is now known more formally as, Cornerstone Football Club. They organise the two-hour Saturday morning kickabout (still in all weathers) and host ad hoc 5-a-side tournaments. They do it for a love of football. But, even more than that, they love Jesus Christ and want to share his message with others. A message that, they believe, truly is a matter of life and death.
If you love football, why not find out more or come and join them?
By Susanne Kinnaird
Susanne is a marketing professional and has two young children with her husband, Stephen. She helps to run the media ministry at Cornerstone Church Kingston, is a Spurs fan at heart and loves to watch ballet, ballroom and all kinds of dance.