Liverpool FC: Winning in Style

Brendan Rodgers - 1

With Manchester City failing to beat Sunderland Liverpool’s title dream is getting closer to reality with every passing day.

The Reds have some tricky must win fixtures ahead starting with Norwich, a home fixture against Chelsea, away to Crystal Palace and wrapping the season up with Newcastle United at Anfield.

Even though winning is all that matters during this stage of the season Rodgers wants his players to play the best football and remember the class and traditions of the club as they bid to win a 19th top-flight crown:

We will try to do it in the right way – I take great pride in winning in the most sporting way we can.  If you look at us we are top of the Premier League and we are top of the Fair Play League. We don’t surround referees. We want to win, but it shows you a mark of our behaviour.  They are the values of this club. It’s a club that has won many trophies in the past but had the humility and the class. One word I always had in my mind when I joined Liverpool is ‘class.’ So that is important to me – that those values are restored.  I believe you can’t affect refereeing decisions. Absolutely. There will be little bits of luck that go for and against you but I like to think as a sporting team and a team that’s trying to work well we’ve got our rewards this year.

With topping the Fair Play league and playing some of the finest football whilst scoring 100 plus goals Liverpool are worthy winner of the Premier league medal if they manage to pass the next four hurdles.

Britain’s youngest parents


A 12-year-old girl has given birth to her 13-year-old boyfriend’s baby, making them Britain’s youngest parents.

The girl, at 12 years, three months, is the UK’s youngest mother, after giving birth to a 7lb baby girl last weekend.  She fell pregnant at 11, while still at primary school, shortly after starting a relationship with a boy who lives near her family home in north London, The Sun reports.

The parents, who cannot be identified due to legal reasons, have the lowest combined age of any British parents in history.

A source close to the family said the pair, who have been in a relationship for over a year, were ‘totally in love’ and plan to bring up their newborn daughter together.  They told The Sun:

“Both sets of grandparents are incredibly supportive. It’s a very difficult situation because the parents are both so young – but their families are right behind them.  The baby’s mum and dad have been in a relationship for more than year, so this isn’t a fleeting romance. They intend to stick together and bring their daughter up together.”

The young mother’s father later confirmed both sets of grandparents have been ‘very supportive’ of the young parents.  The baby’s grandfather broke his silence to radio station LBC, admitting that both families only discovered the news when the unnamed girl was eight months pregnant:

“Before people judge they should find out what’s happened.  All we can do is be supportive, which is what we’re doing.  It is heartbreaking, of course it is. For any man to find out their daughter has become pregnant. It is but you can’t turn back time, you can only go forwards.”

The man, who is separated from his daughter’s mother, said they had not allowed the sexual relationship but said he could not watch his daughter 24/7.  As a business owner he hit out at accusations the family were dependent on benefits and said: ‘We’re not scroungers. I will support this baby as much as I can with my own money.’

He described the new father as a ‘great kid’ and claimed he would prefer this situation to discovering his daughter had been taking drugs.  When asked whether he was ashamed, he told LBC ‘shame doesn’t come into it’ and said he still felt ‘proud’ of his daughter.  He added: ‘She’s brought something beautiful into the world and we’re going to stand by her.’

The proud parents posted a picture of them posing with their baby daughter online.  The young mother, who lives with her mother, hopes to return to school in September.  At 27, her mother is one of the UK’s youngest ever grandmothers.

As a youth worker there are so many context questions I want to ask about this news story, but it does make me come back to the importance of the church leading on SRE for our children and young people.

The education admission system is broken

School Admissions

Today was one of the two big dates for parents in the education calendar.  Today is national offer day for primary school places.  Parents around the country having been receiving emails notifying them of their child’s place of education for the next few years.  Earlier in the Spring, on 3rd March, parents received notification for secondary school places.

The news has a big impact on the family’s day to day life, and if we believe the media the decision will have long lasting effects on our children’s life chances.  These days, even for primary or infant and junior schools parents do incredible amounts of research.  When I was a child everyone just went to their local school – choice only kicked in for secondary school and beyond.

Now everyone scours league tables, reads OFSTED reports, goes to several open days/evenings, and look very carefully at the class sizes, specialisms and facilities.  Today’s report from the National Audit Office is official confirmation of what many parents have known – or feared – for the last few years: the shortage of school places is reaching alarming levels. The report said one-in-five primary schools was full or near capacity with London accounting for more than a third of all extra places needed.

The current education admission system is broken.  We see families buying that house in the ever-shrinking catchment area to make sure their children get in?  Others employ tutors so their children can pass entrance exams or the 11+?  Others sign in at church every Sunday when they have no sense of faith.

Every parent wants the best for their children.  Whilst most schools within the UK will provide a good education to all children it is hard to avoid the facts - we know that public school educated people dominate the upper echelons of UK society; politics, sport and the arts (The Guardian).  Then there’s selective state schools. 29% of Labour MPs went to grammar schools (The Sutton Trust).

As a children’s and youth worker, and a school governor, I still believe that education is more than just pure academics.  We need to develop well rounded adults, and whilst it is now near impossible to find employment without a GCSE grade C in English and Maths it is important that the education system supports children’s interests, support friendships between different social, economic and religious backgrounds.

Today for me is a reminder that education has become too focussed on a narrow band of results and league tables that cause stress both for parents and teachers.  We need an education system that truly values and encourages children rather than allowing economically affluent parents to in effect gain priority over other parents.

Gerrard’s joy at beating Man City

Steven Gerrard emotional

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard wiped away tears at the final whistle on what was an emotional day for everyone connected with Liverpool football. Anfield remembered the 96 fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago and Manchester City were beaten 3-2 at Anfield inspired by Liverpool’s Captain fantastic Steven Gerrard who was at his brilliant best in the middle of the park.

Gerrard told reporters after the match:

“Emotional. Emotional, but we need to keep calm.  There’s still four big games to come but that meant so much especially when they got back into the game and you feared the worst at that point, but I think we showed today that we want to go to the wire, we want to go all the way.  Nothing’s won yet, but that was probably the biggest statement we’ve made so far.  That was the longest 90 minutes I’ve probably ever played in. I kept flashing back to how long the clock was taking in cup finals and big games I’ve played in before but it felt like the clock was going backwards at some points of that game.”

Liverpool started the match with a spine-tingling rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and as said it turned out to be one of Liverpool’s greatest victories in Premier league. With four games to go lets hope the Reds can keep the momentum and lift the title.

Benefits Street programme sequel to be filmed in Southampton


Makers of the controversial Benefits Street documentary are planning a sequel in Southampton.  Love Productions has approached residents in Derby Road, St Mary’s, for the new show that will be called Immigration Street and will focus on the area’s diverse communities.

Harjap Singh, chairman of Sikh Council Hampshire and Southampton Gurdwara Council, said the organisations have raised concerns over the programme.  He said:

“We are against it because it would be pretty bad for community relations.  The Vaisakhi celebrations looks to bring communities together but it seems the programme makers could put certain sections of the community against each other.  A few people I have spoken to have raised concerns and have asked to make sure this doesn’t happen.”

David Bane, secretary of the Southampton Council of Faiths, said the organisation was “cautious”:

“The council of faiths had a meeting last Tuesday and there’s mixed feeling about it.  We don’t have control over what the programme comes out like.  The Southampton Council of Faiths is nearly 19 years old and we have worked very hard to link communities and keep the trust and peace.  Southampton has a history of immigration. We have had people come to this city for years and I think in a way majority of people see it as a real added value to the community – we have around 47 languages spoken here.  We need to be careful.”

However Khalid Farooq, of the Derby Road-based Pakistan Welfare Association said it was an opportunity to show how multi-cultural Derby Road is.  He said:

“I think it’s good. It shows the multi-cultural environment of people living in Derby Road.  They should show a positive aspect of the community.  I think there needs to be more support and show how hard working people are here.”

Cllr Stephen Barnes-Andrew, deputy leader of Southampton City Council and cabinet member for resources, represents the Bevois ward.  He said:

“It is difficult because your whole experience of the programme is sensationalised from James Turner Street in Birmingham and it turned out the whole programme was stage managed.  They have had meetings with council officers on one occasion and said they will try to do a balanced programme.  My view is that on balance looking at previous production it will not be in the interests of people in Southampton as I fear they will be turning to portray a certain angle on the downside of immigration.”

Southampton Test MP Alan Whitehead, who represents the area, has spoken of his concern.  He said he was worried that the programme would follow a script rather than tell the truth and reflect the community accurately.  He said:

“Some programmes can be a tremendous fillip and bonus in getting across to the public what the real issues are. I don’t think the company in this instance has a track record to do that.”

Spring Harvest 2014: Morning 6 – Rob Parsons

Spring Harvest 2014

This morning Rob Parsons beautifully wrapped up Minehead Week 2 at Spring Harvest:


Talking this morning about the fact that God ha confidence in you as we carry on from John 16 Jesus’ final discourse.


The BBC already have the obituaries of famous people on film, especially older people.  They will put a tiny bit about the death but pad it with everything in their life.  The stories of Jesus are opposite, the gospel spends over a third on his death.  it goes from a speeding train to slowing down to the days, hours and even minutes as he dies.


That last night, probably a Thursday night, when that door clicked behind them as they ate that last meal they had no idea what was going to happen.  George Orwell in 1984 writes about Room 101, the thing of which we are most afraid.  The disciples didn’t know they were going into Room 101 but it was full of secrets, betrayals, the most incredible phrase, “and Judas went out and it was night”.  They had no idea what was going to go on in that room, and while they were in that room he said three things: one of you will betray me, one of you will deny me, and the words they never wanted to hear, I’m going to leave you now.  Peter asks where are you going where we can’t go – we’ve always been together.  Room 101 it seemed like he had lost confidence in them.


School report book, a chronicle of failure, not just a preachers thing, come and look at it, mum could only just read and write.  Not sure how he got into the grammar school, didn’t really understand how to study.  Could you imagine if the disciples had report cards, for example James and John.  Dear Mr and Mrs Thunder your children were refused seconds and threatened to bring brimstone down on the village.  Thomas’ parents, Dear Mr and Mrs Doubter – he has a very negative effect on the group!  Peter’s parents, Dear Mr and Mrs Fisher, the master had to tell him to get behind him as he made a silly comment, he ruined the ascension with a silly comment, he nearly drowned whilst trying to walk on water, he cut someone’s ear off in the garden this evening!  They were rubbish.  Why wouldn’t Jesus leave them.


In the book is Rob’s French O’ Level mark, Fail.  The oral really did him, the teacher gave him a phrase to use if in difficulty, “je n’ comprehend pas”, the teacher then used gestures, he then spoke in English, what did you have breakfast, knew the answer to the question, but he didn’t want to know it in English he needed it in French.  Heard a voice say “la test”!


In his late teens and early twenties met three people who changed his life.  Two of his O’ Levels were from his English teacher, filled books with ticks and stars, and comments about we should get this in print.  An old guy from the church who loved stories, and encouraged Rob to speak about the prodigal son.  A guy in business who said we have confidence in you.  Three people saying they had confidence in him, twelve years later he was a senior partner in a law firm.


Kids in your church have got rubbish written in their report.  Many older people feel that no one wants them.  Husbands and wives feel rubbish by their spouse bringing them down.  But it doesn’t take much to bring confidence to someone.


At the back of his report is a page that says Final Report and it is blank – his school didn’t bother filling it in.  But we all have blank pages, we can’t change yesterday but God has confidence in you and that page is still to be written in your life.  The most remarkable thing happened on that night, the second they heard him say it they knew he had confidence, he wanted them to hear his prayer.  My prayer is not for them alone but those who will believe through their message – he believed in them, he believed others would come to faith through them.  A bunch of ragamuffin losers turned the world upside down.


We have to get used to God using the book, he loves to using the book.  When we release the book we release people.  Don’t ever say there is nothing you can do.  Things maybe breaking your heart, it may be your health, it may be your kids.


Heard Diane answer the phone, said it was a wrong number, and then spoke for 10 minutes.  The ladies daughter had hung up on her and not heard from anyone for a week.  Don’t walk passed the man or woman with the big issue, try and buy it, but don’t just buy it, but touch them on the arm, no one touches them.


Ronnie came for one night and stayed for 40 years.  Rob showed off his new car to him, showed Ronnie that power steering, Ronnie said, oh I know, we have it on the bin lorry.  All his life he’s heard that people don’t have confidence in him.  The other night he played in a cricket match, got two runs and almost a catch, he was thrilled because Diane had built him up!


Churches fight about four things: youth work, building committee, Style of leadership, style of worship.  Let’s not fight, let’s not do cheap grace.  He is Holy God who wants us to live for others, we are the hands and feet of Jesus.


“Father I want them with me where I am” – they remembered in my Father’s house there are many rooms, he wanted them with you.  Imagine you’re 9 years old, Rob is the teacher, blow his whistle, want Charlie and Suzy to be captains and pick teams.  Your fear is you are going to be last.  It is worse than that, they say you have him, no you have him.  Larger girl in a school photo of Lloyd’s, no one is near her, Lloyd said it was because no one


Catherine Hill, Director of CARE, was at a posh black tie dinner for Burns Night in Bristol with a woman from the Welsh National Opera.  She’s singing but there is also a homeless man singing.  Two burly men march him out.  Later they bring in the haggis, with men behind him playing the bagpipes, then there is the homeless man again.  The two burly men get up again to throw him out, but a man at the back shouts out “No, there is room at my table”.  The disciples felt rubbish, but then they saw he wanted them at their table.


There is room at my table.  He believes in you, that is the gospel.