From: Paul C
Date: 15 April 2003 10:54
Subject: The significance of Easter

When I was a boy, Easter was a magical time of the year. Good Friday,
Easter Saturday, Easter Monday .......a full programme of football
matches on each day. This was when championships were won and lost,
relegation was confirmed or escaped.

Unfortunately, this overdose of football coincided with a christian
religious festival and what, with my mother being a good catholic
woman, and with her insisting I was a good catholic boy, there was
always a conflict of interests. 

Good Friday was the one day I was not allowed to watch my beloved
Darwen playing in the Lancashire Combination against the likes of
Wigan Athletic, Morecambe and Chorley. Instead I had to attend the
special Good Friday mass with my mother. Not by chance, I'm sure, it
too kicked off at 3 pm. And whilst regular Sunday masses lasted an
hour or so this service was interminable. Everyone in the parish,
including the consumptive and disease-ridden had to parade up to the
altar to kiss a model of the crucifix.  Aargh.

Anyway, on one particular Good Friday when I was perhaps 7 or 8 years
old I objected to having to attend mass.  My Dad, as avid a Darwen
supporter as I was, announced he was heading off in his car to
Liverpool (or more properly Crosby, a rather upmarket suburb) to watch
the Darreners playing Marine. 

Dad was unencumbered by religious baggage - he was happily atheist and
had last set foot in a church on the day he was married. I wanted to
go with him. Arguments and tantrums ensued but it was all to no avail
- off to mass I went whilst Dad paid homage at College Road to the one
god we truly worshipped - Darwen FC.

Mass ended and I waited expectantly for Dad's return.  On Saturdays
when Darwen were playing away from home and we had not gone to watch,
I was despatched to the local Lancashire Evening Telegraph office to
await the arrival of the bundle of 'Last Sports' from Blackburn.
Having paid my threepence I would scan down the front page to find the
Lancashire Combination results, oblivious to any mention of Blackburn
Rovers or Manchester United.

But this was Friday and it was Dad who would carry the news from
Crosby. He entered. I knew it was going to be close - both teams were
hovering around mid-table.

Ashen-faced and obviously upset he made his announcement. "Marine 11
Darwen 1"  Only once in their history had Darwen suffered such a
defeat, and that was in the third round of the FA Cup in 1930
..against Arsenal at Highbury. I was devastated.

Mother, however, saw things in a different light. "Let that be a
lesson to you, Paul. God didn't want you to go to the match, and
because you were a good boy and went to church you were spared having
to watch that defeat. It was your Dad who suffered, and it serves him

And I set about thinking about religion and god and came to the
following conclusions:

1 Yes, there was a god
2 God was a vindictive bastard
3 God was a woman, no man could have come up with such an unlikely
4 You could stick religion up your arse.