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An update from Club Chaplain Haydon Spenceley

18 May 2020

Hello everyone, I hope you’re doing well, keeping safe, hopeful and that your households are peaceful.

This phase of pandemic feels like it’s already gone on for years, but it’s only been two months. I can’t believe it. Time seems to be both rushing along and moving at a snail’s pace (or even slower than me trying to push my chair up a hill) if that’s possible. A lot of us can’t wait for this moment to be over, even though if this moment were to be over, I’m not exactly sure what would happen next.

Similarly, in football, we’re always moving on to the next thing. A great moment in the life of a football club only lasts so long. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. If I’ve learnt one thing in the last two months of not going out it is that sentimentality doesn’t really work as a lens for living life through. Life is for living now, moment by moment, day by day. But there are still the moments when we look back and remember, fondly, such as turnaround in our FA Cup tie with Northwich Victoria that season. Those involved with those moments will undoubtedly remember them forever. However. I think looking back is only really of proper use if doing so strengthens us for today and gives us hope for tomorrow.

In football terms, remembering the highs of a great win can help players grind out a tough game weeks, months or even years later. In life terms, the memories of times like we are in now, when however easy it sounds on the surface to stay at home, save lives, protect the NHS and to stay alert, it can take an actual toll after a couple of months, will I hope help us to value each other and the gifts and opportunities we have now and will have in the future. If and when the time comes when we are able to look back on this period in our history, I hope we will be able to do so with gratitude and a sense of having achieved something collectively, protecting each other (we are all vulnerable, however we might be categorised) and managing to set aside our own self-centredness and selfishness for the good of everybody. It’s far from easy, but one step at a time, one day at a time, I believe we will make it through together.

That Northwich Cup game is in my memory somewhat reminiscent of a lot of the Old Testament (go with me here). Again and again, the people that had been called God’s chosen people - the people of Israel, - found themselves adrift, alone, under harsh conditions, doing things in entirely the wrong way. Again and again they looked forward to a day when a promised saviour would come to give them freedom, but at the same time they looked back to times when God had already proved himself to them. There’s no Bible quote today, it’s too long a story. What I’m saying is that as they lived their present, they looked back as well as looking forward and it gave them strength enough for the moment that they found themselves in. In that Northwich game, Sam Hoskins, Jason Taylor and Dominic Calvert-Lewin turned it all around for us in the last seven minutes. Up to then we’d looked a shadow of our former selves, but remembering past performances and strength of character, as well as looking forward to what could come following a win gave the team that day the strength to turn it all around (as well as, I suspect, a desire to avoid a sound telling off from Chris Wilder).

One day we’ll look back on all of this, but for today, remember the things that have given you the strength to get through the toughest moments in the past, the people who’ve been there for you. Then look around and see who you could be there for today. My faith is giving me a sense of purpose and peace at the moment which is helping me to keep going. Eventually, the saviour the people of Israel hoped for for so long did come, bringing peace, but also promising a time when pain, suffering, tears and death would be over for those who trusted him. Keep going. One day at a time, we will get there. And I am available for any members of the Cobblers family who might like to talk. Just ask.
Up the Cobblers!


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