Well, that's it again... so near and yet so far! We made it to the Championship play-offs only to fall at the semi-final stage. I'm referring of course to the mighty Raith Rovers FC, the pride of my home town, Kirkcaldy! Nevertheless we've had a great season, though in a day when we often hear that 'Winning is Everything', I guess our inability to gain promotion is a form of failure. Now of course I'm not suggesting that any true competitor shouldn't set out to win, far from it... but is it really everything? Reflecting on this I recall a quote by American sportswriter, Grantland Rice, rarely heard these days but one which perhaps ought to be...
'For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name,
He writes – not that you won or lost - but how you played the game.'
And I'd like to share with you 3 examples of true sportsmanship from the world of professional football which demonstrate this in reality... and in each case the outcome was warmly appreciated.
Back in the 1930's, in a match against Airdrie, legendary Hearts striker Tommy Walker was awarded a goal, when the ball had actually ended up in the side netting. He pointed this out to the referee and asked that the goal be disallowed. The referee and Airdrie players praised Walker for his honesty.
Back in season '67-'68 with Rangers flying high at the top of the League and Raith Rovers languishing at the other end, the 2 met at Ibrox. Such was the gulf between the teams that Rangers beat the boys from Kirkcaldy 10 - 2.
However, following the match a letter was sent by a Rangers supporter to the Raith captain asking him to shake the hand of every one of his team-mates as he had been so impressed by the manner in which they had accepted such a defeat. He finished by saying that although he would always be a Rangers man, from then on his second team would be Raith Rovers!
Back in 2001, in a match against Everton, West Ham's fiery striker, Paulo di Canio could have scored one of the easiest of goals of his career. The Everton goalkeeper at the edge of his penalty box clashed accidentally with a West Ham opponent and was left unconscious. The ball was crossed to di Canio who, though facing an unprotected goal, chose to catch it in his hands and then pointed to the motionless 'keeper. For this he was given FIFA's Fair Play Award for that year.
So perhaps 'Winning' isn't really 'everything' after all. But one thing is for sure. One day the 'One great Scorer' will mark against each of our names...
Everything is... laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
...and most important of all will be what we've done about His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us, and gave His life for us. Worth thinking about?