Those of you who know me a little will be aware that I am not the most ‘sporty’ of people. I am not even one of those wonderful ‘armchair’ sportsmen (or women). I am in awe of those who can remember the scores of famous football matches; who scored and when. Those who can recall Test scores for yesteryear are beyond my comprehension. I am frankly baffled by Americans who can tell me all sorts of statistics about baseball or American football or, as they call
it, football. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I enjoy watching some sports and love watching Scotland beat England at anything (but as with most of my nation this usually happens inside my head rather than in reality).
If I am truly honest with myself I can only remember one sporting event from the past. The Grand National of 1981. Before you get worried about the parish funds, let me make it clear that I have never placed a bet in my life. I wouldn’t know how, and I don’t frequent race courses. However, I remember the National of ’81 vividly. I was
living in Spain and I listened to the live commentary of the race on the BBC World Service. The Grand National is always a thrilling race but that year was special. The race was won by Aldaniti ridden by Bob Champion. He led from the eleventh fence at Aintree and held off the favourite, Spartan Missile, to win by four lengths. A thrilling
race, but why do I, a non-racer, still remember it? Aldaniti had been a good horse. He had been placed on both the
Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Scottish Grand National in 1979 before being seriously injured in another race. He was out of racing for over a year before making a comeback in 1981: he won a race at Ascot in February of that year and some thought he had a chance at winning the Grand National, but that injury had been serious and the
Aintree course was testing; could he do it? Bob Champion, his jockey, had been a successful National Hunt rider. Then, he too was cut down by illness; diagnosed with cancer in ’79. He was successfully treated and the National of ’81 was his big comeback. We British love a good story; an injured horse fighting back to fitness and a jockey recovering from cancer. And they won! When Aldaniti was injured, putting him down must have been considered before the decision was made to soldier on. When Bob Champion was told he had cancer he must have thought about his death. But from those two pits of suffering horse and rider triumphed. Throughout this month of March we are journeying through Lent: for some a time of giving things up, for others a time to take part in a Lent Group or to read the bible a bit more. For others Lent doesn’t really mean anything. Whatever the case the month will roll on;
Spring will continue to unwrap around us and we will be at Easter before we know it. For Christians, Easter speaks of new life; of the endless possibilities that the Risen Jesus has given us. For all of us Easter shows us new life all around us; the lambs in the fields; our gardens springing to life, even if that means more weeding! Life is endlessly changing; sometimes good, sometimes less so. However this March finds you remember, you are not alone. You are part of this wonderful community, so reach out, either to help another or to ask for help. Either way you will be blessed.