The Last Pass

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THE LAST PASS

By Owen Phillips & Andrew Aloia

000On the orders of Captain Wilfred Nevill, a football was booted into no man’s land for troops to follow as they left their trenches.

This was no game.

These men weren’t racing through on goal having breached the defence on a muddy football pitch, they were British soldiers bearing down on German lines on the first tragic day of the Battle of the Somme.

Many only survived a few steps.

WWI Front LinesAt this point the Football League was barely 25 years old, Wembley Stadium was still to be built and there hadn’t even been a World Cup.

Yet scores of British soldiers would clamber over the top to chase down what would be their last pass.

Football was to play a fascinating role during World War One, from England internationals helping to form special Footballers’ Battalions to the emergence of the women’s game, as well as the morale-boosting effect the sport had on the troops both deep behind the lines and all along the front.

Immersed in it all was one footballing family.

Jimmy SeedAt the outbreak of war Jimmy Seed was 19. Life was good.

He had just earned a contract with Sunderland and escaped a miserable, unrelenting life as a coal miner.

"I was thrilled to sign professional forms for the side that had been known as the Team of all Talents, one of the biggest clubs in the land," Jimmy said in his book The Jimmy Seed Story.

"I was supposed to receive a signing-on fee of £10 but was only given £5 for some reason. My three months’ summer vacation wages were £1, which was just enough to get by on at the time, as I lived at home with my parents. It was with joy I folded my miner’s clothes for the last time. I was a professional footballer."

Sunderland were already five-time league champions and Jimmy didn’t care about the sneaky deal which deprived him of £5 (almost three times the average weekly wage).

Jimmy Seed of SunderlandFootball, and Sunderland, was his life. He went to games at Roker Park with his four brothers and now the club was his work as well as his hobby. Football was huge and Jimmy Seed was part of the most exciting period the sport had ever known.

But it wasn’t the smoothest of journeys. Jimmy had "failed hopelessly" in his first trial. He had to borrow boots which were too big and played out of position at centre forward. The match itself came after a full night shift at the colliery.

"I did nothing and realised as I dressed after the trial in readiness for another night shift that Sunderland would not be interested in me," said Jimmy.

"I was in low spirits because I had come to loathe working in the pits."

But his impressive exploits as a teenager with Whitburn’s first team soon led to a second chance, this time playing in his best role as an inside forward. He scored a hat-trick in a dazzling performance.

"Life in the coal mines was dire," Jimmy’s grandson James Dutton, 62, told BBC Sport.

It’s difficult to express how awful it was. Football was like a way out of hell.

"I know he hated it. He said it was an awful existence and couldn’t wait to get out."

But a mining life was the expected path for the Seeds, a working-class family who had relocated from Blackhill in County Durham and settled in Whitburn in 1897, two years after Jimmy was born.

Jimmy’s dad, Anthony, worked in the papermaking industry in Shotley Bridge, but was increasingly concerned about the future of the mill as manufacturing techniques moved on. There were five sons and five daughters to support.

Jimmy (left) and Angus with parents Anthony and Elizabeth Jimmy (left) and Angus with parents Anthony and Elizabeth

Mining at the Whitburn Colliery provided relative security but Jimmy had other plans. He was born in what he later described as "England’s richest soccer nursery", and lived a couple of miles from Roker Park. He said he could "hardly fail to follow the soccer trail because in Whitburn soccer is meat and drink to all the boys".

The Seeds had the football bug, in particular Angus – one of Jimmy’s four older brothers – as well as the youngest of the 10 siblings, his little sister Minnie.

But Jimmy’s joy was short-lived. In April 1914 he was a professional footballer, yet he never got the chance to play for Sunderland’s first team.

After almost 18 months playing for the reserves, fantasy football was soon to be replaced by the horrible reality of war.

On 4 August 1914, as Europe descended into conflict following that summer’s assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Great Britain declared war on Germany.

By the end of the month, the process of trying to raise the biggest volunteer army ever seen was well under way.

004And footballers were expected to play their part.

Spectators were asked to leave the terraces and rush to recruitment stations – and football’s authorities had a duty to get them there.

When they weren’t seen to be fully backing the war effort, the game’s place in society and its sense of morality was questioned.

"Before the war there was an undercurrent of worry about whether lots of people watching football was good for the nation and the Empire," Dr Alexander Jackson, collections officer at the National Football Museum, told BBC Sport.

"There was the idea, especially of the upper classes, that sport should be played and not watched if it was going to have any value to society.

"Football was attacked early on because it was seen as keeping people away from going into the army."

In Sunderland, Lord Durham even said that he wished the Germans would drop bombs on Roker Park to encourage men to think about where they should be.

Football, unsurprisingly, took offence. Locally the game’s governing body made efforts to compile figures on just how many men the sport was contributing to the cause.

This, Dr Jackson said, was an "information war" on the home front.

In newspapers, the debate raged as football, rugby league and cricket were not immediately suspended. In London, the Evening News went so far as to cease printing its football edition.

Outside the football grounds there were protests, yet inside speeches were delivered by military spokesmen encouraging spectators and players to take up arms.

Footballers answered the call

The great Corinthian FC side of the day – one that inflicted the heaviest-ever defeat on Manchester United, whose colours Real Madrid adopted and style spawned a club by the very same name in Sao Paulo – were one such team.

They returned from a tour of South America, dodging a German gun boat on the way, to fight.

Thirty-four Corinthian players would perish in World War One.

But it wasn’t just the amateur game that responded – there were ‘current’ international players too.

Fourteen men who had represented England during the 1913-14 season went on to serve king and country in the war.

And, from the professional game, Huddersfield Town’s Larrett Roebuck died serving with the 2nd Battalion York and Lancashire Regiment in France just weeks after fighting began.

The talented full-back, 25, was initially recorded as missing in action and eventually "presumed dead".

football8-lr_a7a7z1iWinter arrived and the conflict and killing, which many had hoped would be over by Christmas, continued.

A formal "Truce of God" proposed by the Pope was rejected.

The morale of troops, however, was of concern.

In December, 460,000 parcels and 2.5 million letters were delivered to British soldiers in France. King George V sent a card to every soldier and a brass box of gifts was given to each man serving.

005Among the carnage, a touch of Christmas cheer was brought to the front.

Incredibly, on Christmas Eve deadly rivals sang carols to each other from their trenches.

It’s to this peaceful soundtrack that it is said football brought both sides together for what FIFA describes as "one of the most celebrated" matches.

Unofficial truces undoubtedly took place on Christmas Day, with presents exchanged and makeshift balls kicked around in no man’s land.

But the full-scale match itself, an event further promoted by much-loved BBC comedy series Blackadder Goes Forth, Paul McCartney’s song Pipes of Peace and a popular Christmas advertising campaign, is most likely a myth that has turned into legend.

Blackadder Goes Forth“The Christmas truce is amazing in being one of the most recognised things from World War One in terms of capturing popular imagination," said Dr Jackson.

“It is embraced because of the idea that football is a means of bringing people together. At that level you can see why, philosophically and on a sentimental level, it is taken on.”

Fraternising with the enemy, while a romantic notion and one that was widely publicised in newspapers at the time, infuriated High Command.

Repeat offences would be punished by Court Martial. This was all-out war.

football5-lr_8xlgwsd It’s with a Christmas backdrop that professional footballers began to commit to the cause in greater numbers in England.

Within five months of war beginning, the 17th Middlesex regiment was raised – it would famously be known as the Footballers’ Battalion.

Among its ranks was Jimmy Seed’s big brother, Angus.

On 15 December 1914 a meeting was held at Fulham Town Hall to try to get those involved in the game to think more about ‘doing their bit’.

It was not designed to be a recruitment meeting.

batallion5_cfr88dh-lr_z2pn7x7 But by the end of a series of speeches, including an address by Football Association president and five-time FA Cup winner Lord Arthur Kinnaird, 35 men from 11 clubs enlisted – 10 of which were Clapton Orient players.

The 17th Middlesex – which also boasted football and military pioneer Walter Tull and future Wolves and Notts County manager Frank Buckley – was one of a number of ‘Sporting Battalions’ to be formed.

The 16th Royal Scots, better known as McCrae’s Battalion and made up of a number of Heart of Midlothian players, was formed a month earlier in Edinburgh.

These were examples of how the game, its stars and the emotional connection to clubs were being used in propaganda to appeal to those considering joining the fight.

At home, Jimmy Seed was becoming increasingly torn as the season unfolded.

Still a teenager at 19, he was impressing with Sunderland’s reserves but his dream career path was in tatters, his moral compass no doubt confused.

He was conflicted by the conflict and the need to play his part, yet desperate to lead the footballing life he craved.

006It was a familiar story for many and the Seed family were no exception.

Angus was a reserve player with Reading in 1914 but signed up as the recruitment drive proved an astounding success. The call for volunteers had hoped to attract 100,000 men. Within two months, more than 750,000 signed up.

Angus was soon preparing for war and picking up tips for fitness training, as he explained in a letter to Reading’s secretary.

"We are getting on fine here," said Angus. "And if they keep giving us the drills we had this morning, we will have muscles like stones.

"It would do some of the boys good to come down here, it would harden them up a bit."

1908ish Seed concertina band biggerJimmy (left) described Angus as his "champion"

He became part of the battalion’s musical band, who also doubled as stretcher-bearers. And although usurped by Jimmy – who took his place in the local team as a young teenager – on the football field, Angus would excel on the battlefield.

Jimmy was the family’s footballing star, but idolised Angus, reflecting that his big brother was "always my champion".

At the end of the 1914-15 season, Jimmy, who had just turned 20, finally joined up.

"He would have seemed to be one of the least likely people in the world to sign up when he had just got a contract with Sunderland," added his grandson James Dutton.

But Jimmy’s priorities had changed.

Football had ceased to be the most important thing in life for me. Britain and Germany were at war and playing football was no longer such a thrill." ~ Jimmy Seed

Jimmy volunteered alongside fellow Sunderland players Tommy Thompson and Tom Wilson, joining the 63rd Northumbrian Division in the Cycling Corps. They trained in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.

Unsurprisingly, the trio formed the nucleus of a particularly useful team. They beat Grimsby, then a Football League side, in a friendly and quickly became known as the best football side in the military.

The month after Jimmy volunteered, in May 1915, the second Footballers’ Battalion – the 23rd Middlesex – was formed.

Coaches, referees and fans would go on to serve alongside their heroes. Truly a one-for-all approach. By 1918, approximately 4,500 men would serve the 17th Middlesex, with around 900 never to return to Blighty.

A total of 1,500 men lost their lives across the two Footballers’ Battalions.

West Ham play Back home, as football carried on, special leave was granted to players each week to allow them to swap combat boots and military training for football boots and league and cup matches.

It proved to be an important concession.

"It allowed balance," said Dr Jackson. "Players weren’t leaving their clubs in the lurch and clubs had players that could help draw a crowd."

And so the 1914-15 campaign controversially continued. Football absorbed more criticism and by the end some clubs were teetering on the edge of financial collapse because of dwindling crowds.

Everton won the league title and Sheffield United overcame Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Old Trafford in April 1915 – a match known as the Khaki Cup Final because of all the uniformed soldiers in the crowd of nearly 50,000.

football_crowd2-lr Then, professional football stopped.

All competitions were suspended until peace was restored. Players were no longer paid, although unofficial regional competitions would be held for the duration of the war.

These games raised charitable funds for the war effort and matches served as a distraction for civilians and soldiers alike.

Jimmy had just over a year training in England, by all accounts having a pretty grand time, before being drafted to France with the 8th Battalion West Yorkshires.

By that time, his brother Angus was already a war hero.

During a German attack on 1 June 1916, Angus dragged several wounded men, including the Arsenal assistant trainer, Private Tom Ratcliff, back to the British lines while under heavy fire.

Ratcliff had been buried by an explosion, but Angus rescued him and was later awarded the Military Medal.

Later that month Angus was badly injured in his right hip by shrapnel. It was an injury that effectively ended his professional football career.

footballers_battalion2-lr_fu2z06jFootballers and Footballers’ Battalions were clearly fully playing their part in the war effort, dispelling any early talk of not fulfilling their duty.

The idea behind the special units was an extension of the Pals battalion concept, many of which had been raised in northern towns and cities, aimed at assuring recruits that they would serve alongside people they knew. Targeting camaraderie as part of the recruitment process was key. And it worked.

In South Yorkshire, the Sheffield Pals ran through drills at Bramall Lane.

And, in south London, a poster calling on the ‘Men of Millwall’ was particularly direct, reading: "Let the enemy hear the Lions’ roar. Join and be at the final and give them a kick off the earth."

"It was tailored recruiting, picking up on different levels of identity," said Dr Jackson.

"Military messages and posters incorporated sporting terminology with phrases like ‘play in the greater game and join the Footballers’ Battalion’, and ‘positions need to be filled in all areas of the team, join up and play your part’."

007As the stalemate continued on the Western Front, the war was about to enter its most brutal phase.

On 1 July 1916, more than 100,000 British troops left their trenches along a 15-mile front to advance across no man’s land towards the German lines.

That first day of the Battle of the Somme was to become the bloodiest in the history of the British Army.

The Battle of the Somme Seven days of heavy bombardment had left the British military commanders convinced success was a formality. It would be a simple matter of strolling forward and claiming victory.

But the pounding had made little impact on the heavily fortified defences and machine gun positions.

The Germans emerged from their dugouts relatively unscathed and the enemy were butchered in catastrophic numbers. On one of the most infamous days of World War One, British fatalities totalled 19,240 among the 57,470 casualties.

Captain Wilfred ‘Billie’ Nevill led the men of B Company of the 8th Battalion East Surrey regiment over the top. His approach was different, though. He gained permission from his superiors to use two footballs to lead the attack.

Kick forwardThe balls were a focal point. One had “The Great European Cup-Tie Final. East Surreys v Bavarians. Kick off at zero” written on it. The other simply said “NO REFEREE” in large capitals.

They were a desperately-needed distraction using a common love of the beautiful game to hide the most hideous of prospects.

Petrified but still bravely breaking forward, hoping to nick a one-goal lead as they chased a ball over the top was not the gameplan – surviving the unfolding mayhem was the only thing on their minds.

It was the last pass that many of the men would ever chase. The East Surreys achieved their goal, but suffered a heavy death toll, Billie Nevill among them.

Nevill’s unusual tactics were seized upon by the British newspapers. It was propaganda gold but there was no disguising the gruesome failure of the battle. The Germans had their own spin, dismissing it as pure foolishness in war.

The Battle of the Somme The football influence ran far deeper than the Footballers’ Battalions.

Bradford Park Avenue player Donald Bell would go on to earn the Victoria Cross for "most conspicuous bravery" during the Battle of the Somme.

On 5 July, Second Lieutenant Bell was advancing with his troops along a trench known as the Horseshoe.

There, they came under heavy machine-gun fire.

victoria_cross_0o0s3p6-lr_lmpumelThe Victoria Cross was awarded to 49 British soldiers during the Somme

Bell and two others – Corporal Colwill and Private Batey – launched a sneak attack on crews manning the weapon. Bell shot the gunner with his revolver and a grenade was thrown to help the British gain ground.

"I only chucked one bomb," Bell wrote to his mother, "but it did the trick."

Five days later, aged 25, Bell was killed making a similarly audacious raid on an enemy trench. His VC medal was presented to his widow by King George V.

Losses on both sides were monumental during the Battle of the Somme.

A German war grave at Neville-St Vaast is the final resting place for almost 45,000 soldiers, of which 8,000 are unidentified.

Scattered among the sea of crosses, which marks a grave containing four bodies, there are 129 which stand out.

They are stone graves, featuring the Star of David and representing Jewish-German soldiers.

008In 141 days, the British had advanced just seven miles and failed to break the German defence.

More than one million had been killed or wounded on all sides during the Battle of the Somme – yet the conflict was no closer to a resolution.

While German Jews fought alongside all other Germans against the Allies in France, one of Jimmy Seed’s Sunderland team-mates refused to pick teams.

objectors2-lr_squorauNorman Gaudie, a 28-year-old accounts clerk, was a committed pacifist and was to be imprisoned for his beliefs.

While some objectors were granted exemption and served in non-combat units, as Burnley’s England international Edwin Mosscrop did, or contributed to the war effort by working in factories or on farms, like West Ham’s Leslie Askew chose, Gaudie was steadfast against any involvement.

Gaudie’s religious beliefs meant he felt "bound to disobey any military orders in loyalty to those convictions, which are based on the spirit and teaching of Christ".

Lord KitchenerNot everyone answered Lord Kitchener’s famous call

His refusal saw him arrested, fined and locked up in the cells of Richmond Castle in Yorkshire, before being shipped off to Boulogne, France, where he described the conditions as "foul and disgusting beyond words".

It’s there on ‘active duty’ that refusing a direct military order could see him sentenced to death.

And he was.

But faced with the firing squad he – and his fellow ‘conchies’ – were given a reprieve by Prime Minister Herbert Asquith as news of their treatment had caused public outrage in England.

The last-minute intervention meant Gaudie and the other absolute objectors instead faced hard labour in prison.

009Although football had ceased in its pre-war form at home, it had become increasingly important in all areas of army life.

Battalion football was huge. Kickabouts were a daily part of the routine, vital for morale and offering brief escapism from what was happening along the Western Front.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Seed was by now fighting his own personal battle – as well as the bigger battle.

"After arriving in France in the summer of 1916, he struggled, suffering with bad periods of depression, which were only relieved by playing football," explained grandson James Dutton.

"He was captain of his battalion team and his good friend Tommy Wilson was captain of another battalion of the Leeds Rifles. These football games really helped him."

Like so many of those that served, Jimmy remained secretive about many of the details of his time in the army. But his passion for football never wavered and undoubtedly helped him deal with war.

"I am sure they played whenever they could," added Dutton.

"There was an impression all soldiers were shoved in trenches until they died. But they went back behind the lines for rest and relaxation and played football then."

Soldier footballBut World War One soldiers were not exclusively engaged in trench warfare.

By July 1917, Jimmy was in Belgium.

"He and his fellow comrades were sleeping in a basement of a bombed out building in Nieuwpoort, near Ostend, and the Germans dropped mustard gas from an aeroplane," said Dutton.

"It was a major incident. Nearly 100 soldiers died and about 700 were hospitalised, including Jimmy."

Jimmy underplayed his time in the army as "worrying and uncertain days".

The only aspect of soldiering he missed was the friendship and the football.

Football helped me to escape from periods of mental depression." ~ Jimmy Seed

Whenever the soldiers were afforded a reprieve from the trenches, they could be seen playing behind the lines.

Even with shells falling nearby, they would continue. It perplexed the French troops.

"Certainly the French took the view of ‘what are these crazy British guys doing?’ as often they would be seen playing football behind the lines," said Dr Jackson.

"The French army at the time didn’t integrate sport into their philosophy, and during the war it began to be adopted because they could see the health benefits and how it was serving as a distraction."

World War One would prove instrumental in spreading the popularity of football among the French masses, as it was previously seen as a sport played by Anglophiles and the elite middle class.

"Through constant exposure and playing against British army teams the French got quite good, quite quickly," added Dr Jackson.

In Belgium"The war did pave the way to a post-war football boom."

And it was not just the French who latched onto football during the war. An estimated 250,000 Belgians fled to the UK following the German invasion of 1914.

The game was embraced as a favourite pastime, and football did its best to welcome the monumental influx of refugees.

Blackpool FC even changed the colour of their kit to that of the Belgian flag in an effort to make them feel more at home.

Football was also used as a way to raise charitable funds, with Belgian soldiers coming together to form a team that toured Britain.

The Belgians got so good that they went on to win gold at the 1920 Olympic Games, then the biggest international prize in world football.

And, 100 years on from the end of the Great War, France won their second World Cup, having overcome Belgium at the semi-final stage of the competition in Russia.

Women footballersGreat Britain’s allies were not the only ones to find their footballing feet during the chaos of war.

The demands put on society saw women move into jobs and become accepted in roles that were previously the sole domain of men. Football was no different.

Women footballers By 1918 almost a million women worked in munition factories and they were encouraged to get active. They did.

Football proved a popular leisure activity, but their interest would not be confined to lunch-break kickabouts.

Work teams were founded, charity matches played and competitions established as games pulled in crowds of tens of thousands.

Football, previously deemed unsuitable for the dainty and delicate women, had found its stage.

"Before the war there was a lot of male hostility to the idea of women playing football," said Dr Jackson.

Attitudes towards women and what they could do in society changed during the war.

"There was a huge amount of charitable work during World War One at all levels of British society. Women involved themselves, not just as supporters, but by becoming the attraction and women’s football proved popular."

With her brothers away on their European tour of duty, Minnie Seed stole the spotlight. She worked in a munitions factory but had the family’s sporting genes. She represented numerous sides in her native North East and beyond – including the most famous of all, Dick, Kerr Ladies.

Jimmy’s grandson James Dutton said: "Minnie was playing football in front of crowds of 30,000 at St James’ Park and became something of a local celebrity.

"Jimmy was quite an old fashioned fellow and I don’t think he would have approved of women playing football. But he was on a disabled serviceman’s pension after his gassing and this was what Minnie was raising money for, as well as working to help the war effort."

Minnie SeedMinnie (bottom right) pictured with her team-mates

Some onlookers were more receptive to the new phenomenon of women’s football. Ernest Edwards, sports editor of the Liverpool Echo, at least offered some encouraging, if heavily condescending, support.

"You doubtless wonder whether the playing of football by ladies has come to stay," he said. "I think their stay will be long in the land of football.

"They have a keen sense of the right thing to do, keep the ball on the turf, and show stamina that one could not have thought possible."

Not many agreed with Edwards’ grudging praise. Most definitely not John Lewis, an FA council member who refereed the first game played by the Dick, Kerr Ladies team.

Women war time footballers"After seeing the match and taking part in it, I have no hesitation in repeating the opinion I expressed last week," he said. "Namely that football is not a game suitable for women, and if they continue to play during the war I hope they will cease doing so when the peace is declared."

His views were not alone so, while women’s football played an important role during the war and drew crowds of more than 53,000 after it ended, it was to be banned by the FA in December 1921.

Old prejudices of the game being unsuitable for females were the reason behind clubs being asked "to refuse the use of their grounds for such matches".

Incredibly, the shameful sanction was to last 50 years.

As the war raged towards a bloody conclusion in 1918, the death toll was so horrific that it changed the very structure of the British army.

The birth of women’s football – its first golden age – would coincide with the demise of the Footballers’ Battalions.

011A shortage of manpower in the British Army saw the 17th Middlesex – which had been reinforced a number of times since 1915 – disbanded in February 1918, with troops bolstering other units.

Walter Tull, among the battalion’s earliest recruits, a war hero and pioneering officer with the 23rd Middlesex, was killed a month later.

Tull, who overcame poverty and racism to become one of English football’s first black players, was hit by machine-gun fire trying to rally his troops near Arras.

He was the first black man to command white troops.

While the men he led tried to recover his body, they never did.

"At this stage of the war, you knew that if you left someone out there you may never find their body again," said Dr Jackson. "And it was that love and care for a comrade, even after death, that said volumes about how much they respected him."

Unlike Tull, Jimmy Seed survived the war, but only just.

He had recovered sufficiently to be given the all-clear to go back to France at the end of August 1918.

Less than two months later he was gassed again, this time in Valenciennes, France, about 30 miles south east of Lille.

012 The Battle of Amiens in August 1918 heralded the beginning of the end of World War One, prompting a string of military victories for the Allied forces.

At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, Germany signed an armistice prepared by Great Britain and France.

The war was over, the rebuilding could begin.

For Jimmy Seed, the rebuilding included his football career.

The gassings would affect him for the rest of his life – not least when he tried to resume playing way too early.

Jimmy was getting a train back to Wigan, where he was recuperating, and bumped into the Sunderland team on the platform.

His team-mates recognised him, explained they were a player short and asked him to make up the numbers.

"Foolishly he said, yes," explained his grandson James Dutton.

"But his lungs were not in good order. He had an appalling match in the Victory League (an unofficial First Division fixture).

"It went horribly wrong and, on the back of that, one of the Sunderland directors hauled him in and said ‘we are going to let you go’. They suggested he went back to the pit so he could ‘sort his health out’.

"That was heartbreaking and he was very depressed.

"It must have been astonishingly tough for him having survived near death and seeing his dream of being a professional footballer shattered in front of his eyes."

Jimmy said in his book: "I was hurt when I learnt that my poor display meant I was never to play for Sunderland again. Now I felt bitter for the first time in my life. I was 23, suspect in health and, worst of all, unwanted at Sunderland."

Sam Wadsworth Like Jimmy, Sam Wadsworth was also left "broken hearted" by his boyhood club at the end of the war.

Aged 18, the then Blackburn Rovers defender from Darwen first tried to enlist to fight abroad. He was told to return a month later and encouraged by the Sergeant Major at the recruitment office to lie about his age.

He did, and followed his older brother Charles into the British Army ranks.

Wadsworth was wounded in action, but survived the war. His brother did not.

The atrocities left him physically and mentally scarred, suffering blackouts and grappling with post-traumatic stress.

Among several hours of autobiographical recordings he made in the 1950s, Wadsworth recalled those dark times.

"I had lost my only brother and my best friend and supporter," he said. "I began to realise that I had to forget all the rough times when we still stood up for more. I had to get on with my life."

At first, Wadsworth tried to do this with Blackburn – a club he proudly continued to play for at every opportunity during the war.

"They were glad of my services and I was pleased to play," he said of the matches he played while on leave from the Western Front.

"But when I came home for keeps the late Bob Middleton, manager of the Rovers, said ‘sorry Sam, I have not a vacancy. You may have a free transfer’.

"That was all. What a blow. My life’s dream had gone with the wind. I thought ‘is this what I receive after nearly five years’ service for my country?’ I was very bitter."

That was where his career almost ended, with his father needing to convince the 23-year-old not to throw his football boots on the fire.

Instead, he dropped down to play lower-league football with Nelson before going on to join Huddersfield Town.

With the Terriers he won three consecutive league titles and an FA Cup in 1922 – a triumphant run which saw Huddersfield knock Blackburn out in the third round.

Sam Wadsworth and England The left-back went on to earn nine England caps, captaining his country four times.

In 1925, Wadsworth led England out in front of more than 90,000 spectators at Hampden Park.

The visitors lost 2-0 in what also proved to be Jimmy Seed’s final international appearance – and his footballing journey after the war was every bit as remarkable as that of his skipper for the day.

After Jimmy’s second gassing, he was only deemed fit enough to be discharged from the army five months later, in March 1919.

The rejection by Sunderland left him devastated – and unemployed.

Manual labour and odd jobs replaced his pre-war career to make ends meet. He had kickabouts among the slag heaps with kids near the Whitburn Colliery and turned out for the local cricket team to keep fit.

But Jimmy never returned to the mines.

His salvation came with an unlikely move to Wales to play for Mid Rhonnda FC in the coalmining area of Tonypandy.

Jimmy’s signing proved a masterstroke and in seven splendid months he helped the team win three trophies.

His rebirth was noted. Tottenham came calling.

"It was like a dream," Jimmy recalled in his book. "Discarded by Sunderland before the start of one season, and now wanted by the famous Tottenham Hotspur club at the end of the next."

His move to London could hardly have gone better. In 1921 he was an FA Cup winner, then the prestigious pinnacle of a player’s domestic career.

Jimmy made his England debut against Belgium in 1921 The same year he won the first of his five England caps. His redemption was remarkable.

Jimmy left Tottenham for Sheffield Wednesday in 1927 after "eight years without a grumble" when the club insisted on reducing his wages.

It proved a spectacular mistake by Tottenham. The Owls won eight of their 10 remaining games to avoid relegation – at the expense of Spurs, who capitulated towards the end of the season.

As captain, Jimmy then led Wednesday to back-to-back league titles in 1928-29 and 1929-30.

A knee injury forced him to retire from playing in 1931, first managing Clapton Orient and then Charlton, in 1933.

The greatest day in Charlton's history came in 1947, when a 1-0 win over Burnley saw them win the FA Cup. In 23 wonderful years at The Valley, Jimmy Seed became a legend, leading them to consecutive promotions to the top flight and then, in 1936-37, the runners-up spot – their highest-ever position.

The greatest day in Charlton’s history came in 1947, when a 1-0 win over Burnley saw them win the FA Cup.

But the glorious success still hid dark times.

He was "encouraged" to resign in 1956 after a miserable start to the season. It was front-page news and he never truly got over it.

Jimmy’s daughter Gladys went into labour on hearing that her dad had effectively been sacked. James Charlton Dutton was born the same day, three weeks early.

"Grandad really struggled after being sacked by Charlton," added Dutton. "But he still thought he was very lucky.

It’s easy to say ‘poor Jimmy’, but he had a charmed life in a way and he seemed determined to live life to the full.

"Many who fought in World War One weren’t nearly as lucky and he seemed to know it."

The war experiences, and the impact on his health, did not make it easy.

"Depression affected grandad throughout his life," said Dutton. "It came back to bite him a few times. He had problems with his lungs and his breathing and intense headaches.

"He never used to admit it was to do with the war and being gassed."

But Dutton has wonderful memories of his "play-mate".

Jimmy with wife Peggy and daughter Gladys  Jimmy with wife Peggy and daughter Gladys

"Growing up I had heard of my grandad who had played football for England and won the FA Cup," he said.

"My first memory of him is from when I was about six and we moved back to live with my grandparents in Bromley. I thought he was a superstar.

"He was a rather striking looking chap with silver hair but he was just grandad to me.

"We would watch the horse racing together, play football in the garden and he taught me to play cricket and golf."

One day Jimmy suddenly opened up about his war experiences.

"We were gobsmacked," added his grandson. "I remember it clearly.

Jimmy Seed as granddad"I was about eight and he was talking about how they were trying to capture a bridge from the Germans. They were running down this bridge and two or three of his friends were killed running next to him.

"He was a bit choked up and stopped talking and that was the only time I remember him talking specifically about the war.

"Maybe he needed to get it out of his system, as he was getting older."

But the war was a time Jimmy, like so many others, wanted to forget. He cherished his football life.

"He was innovative and firm and fair," said Dutton. "He would explain his decisions and players loved him for that.

Jimmy Seed was revered as a special player and respected as a manager.

"Charlton made a huge amount of money through his transfer dealings, he believed in coaching players.

"He was something of a celebrity and he loved it. People treated him with such reverence. People would ask me to get his autograph, I was so proud of him.

"We became good chums. I was distraught when he died in 1966."

Sister Minnie and brother Angus were both survived by Jimmy.

Minnie married on Boxing Day 1923, with Jimmy missing an away game against Huddersfield to attend the wedding. Minnie had one son, Thomas, and died in 1948.

Following the war, Angus became Aldershot’s first-ever manager and was Barnsley boss for 16 years from 1937. While at the Tykes, he appointed Tom Ratcliff, whose life he saved in 1916, as his trainer. He died at the age of 60 in 1953.

After leaving Charlton, Jimmy went on to be involved with Bristol City and Millwall, where he was still a director when he died midway through England’s World Cup-winning campaign.

It was just over a month shy of 50 years after the football-obsessed young man first set foot in France during World War One.

015 Almost 100 years on from the day the guns fell silent to mark the end of the Great War, the only conflict between German and British armed forces will be on the football pitch.

The Greatest Games of Remembrance, two matches being played in Nottingham, will commemorate this landmark Armistice Day.

None of the participants are full internationals. They are not professionals. But they are football fans.

Their match is not a kickabout behind the trenches on Flanders Fields, a brief and most welcome interlude before returning to the front line. It’s just a game of football.

But there will be a connection through sport as they pay tribute to their footballing forebearers.

The commanding officer of the first Footballers’ Battalion, Colonel Harry Fenwick, perfectly summed up the contribution of the men he led during the Great War . . .

016 "I knew nothing of professional footballers when I took over this battalion.

"But I have learnt to value them. Their esprit de corps was amazing. This feeling was mainly due to football – the link of fellowship which bound them together.

"Football has a wonderful grip on these men and on the army generally."

The End.

_________________________

Credits

Producer – Brendon Mitchell

Authors – Owen Phillips and Andrew Aloia

Sub-editor – Steve Marshall

Images – Rex Features, Getty Images, The National Football Museum, The Priory Collection, Iain McMullen/Football and the First World War, James Dutton

All images subject to copyright

_________________________

Please view this related post Armistice Day.

Soli Deo Gloria

Obituary: Cyrille Regis

As a youngster – although there is only six years difference – I remember Cyrille Regis well  from his football playing days at West Bromwich Albion, Coventry City and as an England international. As a South African lad back in the dark days of apartheid in the late 1970’s we only got a smattering of English football on SABC television when it first started broadcasting on our African shores as “Match of the Day.” I was an avid Liverpool supporter back then and had collected many a SHOOT! magazine from the UK which I collected almost weekly from our local CNA news agency outlet, where the team posters and/or player profiles would proudly adorn my bedroom walls, that resembled “wall-paper”! Cyrille Regis was among those I idolised. You see, back then I clearly was an idolater who knew there was a “God”, but just did not know Him intimately, and therefore football was my god.

Cyrille Regis playing for West Bromwich Albion against Norwich City in 1978. Photograph: Mark Leech/Getty Images

Sadly, we have now come to learn of the death of Cyrille Regis (read more at his personal website) who passed into eternity on Sunday 14th January 2018, but what is most pleasing to know, which I had not known previously, is that Cyrille had become a born-again Christian! He had placed his faith in Jesus Christ. Whilst death has gripped Cyrille’s body, his soul is not dead, but he has fallen asleep as he lived with a hope that he is more alive now than he had ever been before! I hereby share an obituary for Cyrille Regis (9 February 1958 – 14 January 2018), aged 59, as it appears at the website Christians in Sport (Source):

~~ ooo ~~

Obituary: Cyrille Regis

Date posted: 15/01/18

Cyrille Regis

We thank God for the life of former England footballer and Christians in Sport Trustee Cyrille Regis, who died yesterday at the age of 59.

Cyrille was a legend of West Midlands football and best known as a centre forward for West Bromwich Albion and Coventry City.

Christians in Sport General Director Graham Daniels said:

“Cyrille was an outstanding footballer but much more importantly an outstanding man. His courage as one of the first famous high profile black footballers meant that he became a role model which has changed the canvass of professional football. His faith in Jesus Christ, which he arrived at after the death of his close friend Laurie Cunningham, became a fantastic encouragement to many elite sportspeople to consider their relationship with the God who gave them their talents. The man was a giant in his generation.”

Just the third black player to be capped by England, Cyrille was a pioneer in the fight against racism in football. He played 614 matches and scored 158 goals in a 19-year professional career, which also saw him make five appearances for England. Cyrille’s career highlights included winning the FA Cup with Coventry City in 1987 and scoring the goal of the season, while playing for West Brom in 1981-2. He also had spells with Aston Villa and Wolves, which cemented his popularity in the region.

It was the death in a car crash of his best friend and former teammate Laurie Cunningham in 1989 that prompted Cyrille to ask questions about faith. His search for answers ultimately led to him becoming a Christian after what he described as “a real encounter with Jesus”.

After Laurie’s death, Cyrille started attending church and soon a local baptist minister sent him a book called A New Dimension by Michael Green,

Cyrille_Regis_obit_profile Cyrille said: “As I’m reading this book, the penny drops. It really sinks in that Christ loves me. He died for me and He rose again from the dead and this awesome sense of peace comes over me.”

Cyrille soon became involved with and supported by Christians in Sport as he looked to live out his faith as a professional footballer. Following his retirement in 1996, he became a sports agent and remained passionate about sharing his story of faith.

He said: “I meet people all the time, some famous, some not who are all looking for hope and peace. I have learned that money cannot buy peace of mind so I simply tell people how I found hope and peace in God. The great thing about it is that anyone can have the peace that I have, you just need to know God.”

A member of Renewal Christian Centre in Solihull, Cyrille was a keen advocate of Christians in Sport and joined our Board of Trustees in 2011. Cyrille was also the first interviewee when we launched the Christians in Sport podcast in 2016. On it he shared his story of faith and football with General Director Graham Daniels.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Cyrille’s wife Julia and his family at this time.

Soli Deo Gloria

Coaches must be more than just coaches*

This blog post will look at the responsibilities of a sport’s coach – more specifically in this instance a football (soccer) coach – and how the coach can come to exercise a much greater influence over the players that are in his* care†. Here you will see how to make an impact as a role model that is different from the worldly stereotypes everyone looks to copy.

We will look at the definition of a “coach” from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary who is defined as “one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a sport and directs team strategy”, as can be read from this extract:  

2 [from the concept that the tutor conveys the student through examinations]

a : a private tutor • hired a coach to help her daughter prepare for the test

b : one who instructs or trains • an acting coacha birth coach; especially: one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a sport and directs team strategy • a football coach; a pitching coach; a gymnastics coach ~ ©Merriam-Webster Dictionary (since 1828)

However, a coach is also one who teaches individuals, as well as the team collectively, and therefore can also be seen as a teacher or tutor. From a football coaching perspective, the players are instructed and put through their drills during their weekly practices, and the test as to what they have actually learnt and how well they can execute their skills and the game plan (team strategy) is then performed during their team matches. You will often hear from a coach after a match when the plan was not executed so well – which is most often – that, “At the end of the day, we must go back to the drawing board” which in essence, by that common cliché, the coach is saying, “We have to rectify our problems.”

A coach’s arsenal does not only consist of coaching manuals that deal with fitness exercises, skill techniques, game strategies, the laws of the game, and the like, as well as the tangible things like the kits, balls, beacons, and other equipment, but part of his arsenal is also how he presents himself and conducts himself around his young players, the young boys and girls who are impressionable and have learning minds. The players writer is specifically referring to in this article are those in the U6 through U17 age groups. Often coaches do not realise that they leave many a lasting impression upon the youngsters that are in their care and it is common, but not a hard rule, where parents have advised their child on certain aspects of the game and a common comeback by their child is: “But my coach says I should . . .” or “But my coach says . . .” [fill in the blank]! At times it appears that the “coach” knows better and holds a higher authority than the parents! This might well be concerning the qualifications and experience in coaching the sport, but not necessary when it comes to life skills and spiritual matters. It would therefore be common cause to ask yourself some searching questions concerning the coach:

  • When a coach speaks, what is his world view? and what is he actually saying?
  • Can he be trusted in what he speaks about? and what life skills is he teaching the players?
  • And morally, how does he impact upon his students?

Bill Shankly

This treatise will put all in perspective when one considers one of the “greatest coaches” Bill Shankly, a Liverpool manager on Merseyside from 1959–1974, who is quoted as saying: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” It is sad to think many, many coaches hold to this world view, of which I too was one of them. But my world view has changed, and I can assure you football is not much, much more important than life and death. Coaching football has far greater lessons to be learned than just honing football players’ God-given talents. On Tuesday 29th September 1981 at the age of 68 when the socialist William “Bill” Shankly passed into eternity, he was assured that football is not “much, much more important” than life and death. Shankly died precisely on time, and scripture records it plainly:

27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: ~ Hebrews 9:27

[A Gospel Tract: My Friends Are Dying And, Though They Be Alive, They Are Dead Men Walking ~ A Message of Hope ~]

Good-Coach-Great-Coach-copy-768x512

A quote by John Wooden (a past American basketball player and UCLA head coach who won 10 NCAA National Championships in a 12 year period, including an unprecedented 7 in a row), reads as follows: “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.” This is true in many respects, but I will further elaborate and add, that, A truly great coach will strive to win souls. Even if it is just one soul won, this is a far greater perspective for a coach than just changing “a game” or “a life.” In the physical realm, lives can be changed when a person’s lot or circumstances in life changes for the better. But a soul won spiritually has eternal rewards that far outweigh the physical here and now. There is wisdom in winning souls. The Holy Bible records it as follows, for it is written,

30  The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. ~ Proverbs 11:30

Whilst most coaches teach from a secular world view, and in some cases they might even throw in some religious mumbo-jumbo, it is imperative that coaches aspire to train children and coach with a Biblical world view or they are bound to fail in this life. Many championships, accolades, trophies, medals, certificates and the like might be won, but without a God-centred Biblical world view every achievement will waste away and be nothing but dross! Following on from here is the reasons why a God-centred Biblical world view is imperative and non-negotiable.

In order for the above Proverbs 11:30 scripture verse to be applied, the person (in this case a coach) would have to be righteous before GOD, and the only way he can be righteous is by being a born again Christian – a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, a child of GOD! Jesus said, “. . . Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.~ John 3:3. The word “verily” comes from a Greek word [281]†† amēn, am-ane, of Hebrew origin [543]†† that means trustworthy, surely as an interjection meaning so be it. In the Hebrew [543]†† âmên, aw-mane’, means sure; abstract faithfulness; adverb truly – Amen, so be it, truth. Jesus Christ, Who is truth (see John 14:6), is emphasising the trustworthiness of His statement, the very essence of truly, truly, amen – so be it! There is no other way to get into the Kingdom. If a person is not born again of the Spirit of the living God, that person cannot see the kingdom of God. To be a true believer you need to know the KING of the Kingdom or there is no access! For access is through having eternal life which in the words of Jesus, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.~ John 17:3. That would leave every person that is excluded from the kingdom of God a condemned rebellious sinner who is headed for hell and the lake of fire come Judgment Day (see Revelation 20:14,15). Jesus taught and preached the kingdom of God, and so must truly born again Christians teach and preach the kingdom of God, HIS Kingdom! Not this worldly kingdom, for it is fast wasting away!

In the Holy Bible God gives born again Christians a mandate to be ambassadors for Christ who have the ministry of reconciliation, to represent the kingdom of God here upon the earth. Just as any ambassador from a country, say South Africa, would find himself in a foreign land, say England, that South African ambassador represents South Africa in England upon English soil. So God has His believers as ambassadors representing His Kingdom here on earth for His glory and purposes alone in the ministry of reconciliation, which is the work of an evangelist reconciling sinners back to God, as we can read from God’s Word in context, for it is written:

17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 
20  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 
21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Be Biblical, a Biblicist Therefore, to be truly a “great coach”, one must be truly a born again Christian as the Bible defines a believer. However, the “great coach” does not define the believer, but the Great GOD whom he serves in that capacity as an ambassador for Christ! “He [JESUS] must increase, but I must decrease.” ~ John 3:30 [insertion by writer]. For many of the young players have never read the Bible, but the only “Bible” they will ever read may be the coach’s lifestyle: watching your every action, listening to your every word, and observing your morality. We read about this in scripture, for it is written,

2  Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 
3  Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:2,3

If a coach is a true disciple of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, he will stand for truth, for Jesus Christ is truth! He would not want to lie and be a false witness, but speak truth in love at all times. He would want to be Christ-like in word, thought and deed. Jesus prayed to God the Father, “16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:16,17). Therefore, truth comes from God, and there can be only one truth. Truth is not subjective, one truth for one person and another truth for another person. Truth is 100%. If there is but 0.1% untruth mixed in with 99.9% truth, the 0.1% untruth will render the whole untrue! Truth will always be 100% or the portion of untruth will render it a lie, deception or a man’s fabrication (opinion)! Truth is objective – there is only ONE truth, and Jesus Christ IS that truth! He said, “6 I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.~ John 14:6,7.

We are also warned in Colossians 2:8, as we read, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Therefore, if any man as a coach comes in his own stead and strength, he is lacking the truth of God in Christ Jesus. If he comes preaching and teaching with the doctrines and traditions of men, holding to vain babblings of a secular nature and man-made religious practices that are contrary to the Holy Word of God, The Bible, then he is a false teacher, a deceiver, an enemy of God. This will only lead to deception with vain words. However, a true child of God, who teaches as an oracle of God, will hold to the following instructions as to who he is in Christ Jesus, for it is written,

1  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 
2  And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 
3  But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 
4  Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 
5  For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 
6  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 
7  Be not ye therefore partakers with them. ~ Ephesians 5:1-7

Dear coach, what are you teaching the children, your players in your care? Are you a reflection of Christ in word, thought and deed? Or do you speak as the world? think as the world? and act as the world? “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1), and the half brother of the Lord Jesus Christ (see Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3), wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” ~ James 4:4. Being a coach are you a friend of the world? And are you teaching and training your players to love the world and what it has to offer?

As a coach you should also guard against having a covetous spirit and making football an idol. There is a fine divining line between playing the game for God’s glory and playing the game for self glory. Also, if a coach and/or the players and/or the parents know more about football than about their Creator God, or they place Truthfootball ahead of their Creator God, then football has become an idol in their lives and football is their god. This goes for anything in life. If  possessions, money, property, cars, music, sport, alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, career, cell phones, social media, partying, friends, family, religion, etcetera, etcetera, takes precedence in your life over, above and before God, then you are an idolater. God warns in the First and Second of the Ten Commandments, for it is written,

3  Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 
4  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 
5  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 
6  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. ~ Exodus 20:3-6 (see also Deuteronomy 5:7-10)

As can be seen in verse 5 here above, idolatry which is idol worship is hatred of God.

In order to win souls for Christ by teaching and preaching the kingdom of God, the coach must not only be His ambassador, but he needs to know what the constitution of the kingdom of God says and teaches. The constitution by which we are to live is the God-breathed Holy Bible scriptures, and not man-made constitutions, customs and traditions, confession of faiths and catechisms, or false religious writings, all that blaspheme and promote sin against the Creator God YHVH, for we read, as it is written, YHVH

16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16,17

To win youngsters over and teach them Truth, coaches must first and foremost have a relationship with the God they profess to teach about, for their teaching will be an act of worship and praise to the God of Creation. That is why we are warned in scripture to not “give heed to fables” (1 Tim. 1:4), to “refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7), and we are encouraged by the apostles “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).

A coach also needs to be extremely watchful and guard what comes out of his mouth, “34 . . . for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. . . . 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34,36,37). By way of an example, whilst writer was one Saturday afternoon assisting with an U10 match, an U8/U9 coach committed blasphemy by using the Son of God’s name Jesus Christ to show disgust at his team missing an opportunity to score a goal. Writer immediately rebuked the U8/U9 coach in front of other parent spectators, including a Muslim man standing within ear shot. In a very short period of time the team scored and the said coach retorted that he had “invoked” Jesus’ name and that is why they had scored. He made light of his sin and tried to justify his blasphemy. However, the terminology of the word “invoked” is a ". . . We ought to obey God rather than men." ~ Acts 5:29 Roman Catholic (RC) word that fits with the RC’s doctrine and dogma teachings. The words “invoke” or “invoked” are not found in the Holy Bible scriptures. In the RC Catechism #969 you can read, quote: “. . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix."510. This is false teachings as the Holy Bible says there is only one Mediator, as can be read, for it is written in God’s Word, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (1 Timothy 2:5), and the only Advocate we have in scripture is found in 1 John 2:1, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”. For what is sin? We read, for it is written, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4). And Jesus Christ came to fulfil the law, as we read, for it is written in God’s Word, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17). And the ONLY Advocate Jesus Christ fulfilled the law, not Mary!

Now how can this coach teach children, if he ever did, about the God-Man Jesus Christ when he blasphemes Him by using His Holy Name in vain to show disgust towards his young players? The said RC coach cannot be a true witness of truth when he violates the Third of the Ten Commandments, which reads, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7). As a Roman Catholic he is teaching another gospel holding to the teachings of the pope-induced man-made catechism that is contrary to the Word of God as can be seen under the example here above dealing with the word “invoked” which is a heresy. Cursed are all that preach any other gospel and would pervert the gospel of Christ, for it is written,

6  I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 
7  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 
8  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 
9  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 
10  For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 
11  But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 
12  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. ~ Galatians 1:6-12

ReligionsTherefore, as can be seen from what has been said above, coaches are more than just coaches. It is dangerous ground when a coach has a flawed world view and conveys his message to his players that they are to respect all religions, when God makes it known that there is only ONE Truth, for God is intolerant! God does not tolerate sin and neither should Christians! Coaches need to avoid secular philosophies and false religions that violate truth. God reveals, for it is written,

22  For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us. ~ Isaiah 33:22

8  I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. ~ Isaiah 42:8

17  They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods. ~ Isaiah 42:17

10  Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
11  I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. ~ Isaiah 43:10,11

15  I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King. ~ Isaiah 43:15

25  I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. 
26  Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified. ~ Isaiah 43:25,26

6  Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. ~ Isaiah 44:6

8  . . . Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. ~ Isaiah 44:8

6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 
7  If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
~ John 14:6,7

3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. ~ John 17:3

9  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 
10  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 
11  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:9-11

In closing, coaches need to have their “. . . repentance toward God, No greater joyand faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21), not just any ‘Jesus’ of their own choosing, before they can even consider being used of God to win a soul for Christ. If not, they might impact upon a child’s life by either changing “a game” or changing “a life” in this present evil world, but that child will still remain an enemy of God through wicked works! We read about the Lord Jesus Christ’s ministry, for it is written,

34  And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
35  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
36  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
37  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
38  Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
~ Mark 8:34-38

Dear coaches, if you are not serving the one and only true God in your coaching, you are wasting your time. And you will be accountable for your every action, every word, and every thought come the day of judgment. Today is the day of salvation. Repent and believe before it is too late . . .

Soli Deo Gloria______________________

Footnotes:

* The male gender reference to the “Coach” is also applicable to the female gender. However, in this context women can witness for Christ, but women are not allowed to be public teachers in the church usurping authority over men (see 1 Timothy 2:11-15).

† A coach exercises a great sphere of influence upon players in their care just as a school teacher would do the same in education. However, it should be noted that the parents have a God-given responsibility to teach their child/ren about God and the Bible. We are instructed in Scripture, for it is written,

6  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6

In the event that the player’s parents are not true Christians, the Christian coach should teach and preach Christ Jesus to both parents and child/ren.

Teach Your Son

†† Strong’s Complete Word Study Concordance Expanded Edition, Copyright 2004 by AMG Publishers: James Strong, LL.D., S.T.D. Edited by Warren Baker.

2017 Maritzburg District Football Association (M.D.F.A.) U10

27  He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.
28  And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29  And Jesus answered him,
The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 
30  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 
31  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 
32  And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: ~ Mark 12:27-32

2017 M.D.F.A. Under 10

By the grace of a divine GOD and through His blessed Son, my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, according to His will and purpose, I was chosen as an assistant coach for the Maritzburg District Football Association (M.D.F.A.) Under 10 team that participated in the SAFA Pinetown Local Football Association (PLFA) Junior Incoming Tournament that took place on 6-7 October 2017 at the Forest Hills Sports Club, KZN. The Tournament hosted teams from Gauteng that represented Rand Central, Easterns, and Pretoria, and the KZN Associations from Durban, Pinetown and Pietermaritzburg (M.D.F.A.).

For a team that came together for about three weeks before the tournament commenced, the M.D.F.A. Under 10 team performed and equipped themselves reasonably well against the well drilled teams from the Gauteng province. We were informed that a team like Easterns had already been in preparation for four (4) months leading up to the tournament. So finishing fourth out of eight teams was an achievement in itself. The squad comprised sixteen players, two coaches and a manager. The squad assembled was as per the team photo above and the squad listing hereunder:

  1. Ryan Mustard (GK – Savages FC)
  2. Thando Hlophe (Pirates FC)
  3. Andile Ngwane (Savages FC)
  4. M.D.F.A. LogoKofi Atta (Pirates FC)
  5. Baseer Abrahams (Savages FC)
  6. Siyamthanda Skhakhane (Savages FC)
  7. Curt Rogers (Pirates FC)(Captain)
  8. Cee-Jay Mulder (Pirates FC)
  9. Kaydon Adonis (Pirates FC)
  10. Malachi Momplé (Pirates FC)
  11. Tynin Sampson (Savages FC)
  12. Farhdeen Khan (Westside Lads)
  13. Azande Zondi (GK – Pirates FC)
  14. Thuba Myeni (MDAS)
  15. Deolin Marais (City Saints)
  16. Declan Pillay (Savages FC)
  • Miles Rogers (Head Coach – Pirates FC)
  • Gary Crous (Assistant Coach – Pirates FC)
  • Mrs. Leigh Mustard (Manager – Savages FC)

The following statistics record our performances. We played three matches on Friday 6 October 2017, starting off well with two straight wins, but losing in the third match. Kindly note that at Under 10 level you have nine players per team on the field with substitutes available. Here are the results:

Line-up 01 Line-up 02 Line-up 03

And on Saturday 7 October 2017 we played four matches as follows, failing to score on day two which might well have cost us a position or two. However, one should always remember that GOD knew our results and position even before it came to pass:

Line-up 04 Line-up 05 Line-up 06 Line-up 07Final Log Positions

The team was well supported by the players’ parents over the two days and here are some photographs to enjoy in random order:

The M.D.F.A. U10s showing off their squad numbers  IMG-20171007-WA0002Assistant Coach Gary Crous in the rain Thulani Zondi and son Azande Two Soccer Moms giving their support(L) Declan Pillay and (R) Farhdeen Khan  vs. Easterns "A"Curt Rogers taking a free kick . . .  . . . and kicking it up fieldAndile Ngwane clearing in defence vs. Easterns "A" Team Manager/Photographer Leigh MustardVincent Myeni, dad of Thuba  Boys milling around between matches. L-R: Deolin Marais (obscured) by Cale (#6 U11), Thando Hlophe, Kaydon Adonis, Baseer Abrahams, Curt Rogers and Thuba MyeniC.J. Sukraj and Thabiso Madlala of Soccer Kids Academy/DCLFA(Durban)  M.D.F.A. U10 Goalkeeper Ryan MustardDCLFA (Durban)(L) and M.D.F.A. (Pietermaritzburg)(R) line-up before the match  Captain Curt RogersCee-Jay Mulder and Malachi Momplé on the ball  Cee-Jay Mulder showing determinationAyanda Mdlalose (DCLFA) and Kaydon Adonis (M.D.F.A.) compete for the ball  Curt Rogers and an opponent and looking on is Cee-Jay MulderGame over and the sportsmanship handshaking  Win or Lose friendships prevail

The players’ rewards for their wonderful performances were being acknowledged in The Witness, a local newspaper, on two occasions thanks to our Media Liaison Officer, our Manager Mrs Leigh Mustard. Well done boys!

The Witness, Tuesday 10 October 2017 The Witness, Thursday 12 October 2017In closing, my ongoing prayer in completion of this time spent with these precious boys, their parents and the coaching staff is that GOD will be merciful and all will come to true repentance and faith in the only Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ, the Son of the true and living GOD YEHOVAH! For,

43  Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45  That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
~ Matthew 5:43-48

Soli Deo Gloria

____________________________

Foot Notes:

To all who did not receive the Gospel tract My Friends Are Dying And, Though They Be Alive, They Are Dead Men Walking please do spend some time reading the same at the link and where necessary, Repent and Believe. ~ Your friend, Gary

A related blog posting to also be read: 2017 Champions ~ Are You Ready?

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