The Post Match Interview

The Post Match Interview

There was a sharp in-take of breath.  The interviewer didn't expect the answer he got from Doncaster Rovers manager Darren Ferguson.  The interviewer asked what he would do about the referee who didn't keep up with play and made some "errors" that cost them dearly.  Mr Ferguson spoke his mind and said that he would shoot them. 

The post match interview didn't go so well and Mr Ferguson quickly apologised. From that moment it was said it was expected that the FA would charge the manager for what he had said.  They did and Mr Ferguson was fined £1,000.  It was a game that Doncaster should have won.  The equaliser should have been disallowed as a Rovers defender appeared to have been impeded.  Then to add to the frustration Rovers had an obvious penalty claim turned down. 

Having seen the clips of the two incidents I could understand the frustration experienced by the manager.  Growing up in a Doncaster colliery village, personally I thought that the outburst was blown out of proportion.  We used the same language in a similar way growing up.  The semantics of those words was not the same as in "official" usage.   To say you'll get shot meant that that you would be disciplined.  In fact the phrase was not as bad as another phrase that was widely used.  In for the high jump meant something similar but worse.  The whole incident reminded me of a socio-linguistics lecture I once attended as part of student studies in the 1980's.  We may use the same language but does it hold the same meaning for each user? 

During an interview on prime time television a militant black civil rights leader said in an interview that his group would kill president Nixon.  This caused outrage to the majority white audience.  But for the black militant civil rights leader the phrase that he used meant something else.  The way in which he used the phrase meant for him and his community that they would destroy the reputation of the president.

The controversy at the Keepmoat was focused on the need for change.  Professional footballers in the Premiership and the Championship had professional referees officiating at their games.  Shouldn't the same courtesy be made for professionals in the lower leagues such as leagues One and Two?   The reason for the managers complaint was that this referee didn't keep up with play as he was expected to and if he had had done then he would have been in a position to give the correct decision.

Then it was mentioned that the referee and referee's like him in Leagues One and Two were volunteers and had other employment.  Then I realised that I am in a similar position to the referees of leagues One and Two.  I am a Self Supporting Clergyman.  That means that I do not have a stipend, I have to support myself.  Like the referee on the receiving end of Mr Fergusons outburst I am essentially a volunteer.

This does not make me any less of a clergyman.  It is not receiving a stipend that make clergy, clergy.  Self Supporting Ministers receive the same training.  I was trained alongside people who are stipendiary and only this week I received my Postgraduate Diploma in Ministry and Theology from the University of Sheffield who validated the academic part of my training.  What makes Deacons, Deacons and Priests, Priests is not a piece of paper or a stipend but God.  Being separated out for a particular ministerial role is in itself a costly process.  It could be for example like Jesus saying to Peter in John 21:18 that he would stretch out his hands and be taken to somewhere that he didn't want to go, indicating how Peter would suffer martyrdom for his faith.

The only difference between a stipendiary minister and a self supporting minister is time available for ministry.  There are no part time ministers, only ministers who are only available part time hours.  And in the same way volunteer referees are expected to be fit as full time referees are in order to do the job, Self Supporting Ministers are expected to be as spiritually fit as Stipendiary Clergy.  The disciplines of prayer, bible study etc are the same, including the oaths we make.  God has called us all for a particular task and how we fulfil that calling is dependent on the individual and their context.

Funnily enough, before I became a Christian I wanted to be a football referee.  When I was in the  lower-sixth form the school put me on a FA refereeing course and I was in the middle of a couple of school games.  I wasn't allowed to take the exam to get on a local refereeing list because I was too young.  When I was old enough to take the exam I lost interest, which was just as well in a way as I would have started in a local Sunday league and I was soon to get another interest that would take my Sunday mornings as I started to be a disciple of Jesus''.

Who knows what would have happened if I had remained committed to football refereeing.  One thing is certain.  I would have remained on my own taking the heat for bad and good decisions alike.  Instead, as a follower of Jesus I have answered that call on my life and I am part of a team. 

Unlike a referee I am not enforcing the rules in order for the game to go ahead.  Instead I am part of the team that is captained by our Lord Jesus seeking to extend God's kingdom in the area and in the people we are called to serve.  Let's pray for each other as we seek to do this.

Rev Mike Parnell. 6 January 2018


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