Since pre-war boyhood I’ve supported the Gable Endies - alias Montrose FC.
I still recall the whiff of ‘winter-green’ embrocation wafting from the dressing rooms of the old wooden stand. To this day, no rich tea biscuit tastes as sweet as my half-time treat as a wee lad.
But I can’t remember any match at Links Park which dragged me through so many jangled emotions as Saturday’s encounter with Brora Rangers.
Our club’s long history as a full league member was at risk. Even the Gable Endies’ very existence was questioned.
Trailing by one goal from the away fixture at Brora, at Links Park it was a win by two at least, or the unthinkable.
A slide into extra time and penalty lottery would be a nightmare.
The match attracted attention far beyond the town. The media sniffed drama in the first-ever relegation from the Scottish Football League.
Saturday’s crowd of 2,000 - five times the usual gate - showed what was at stake for the Gable Endies and the town. Colleagues from our years in England, who teased me about ‘Montrose-nil’ were on the phone.
Like dear Marvin Andrews, one kind English friend said he’d offered a prayer for a win. That poses a good question. How could one justify praying about a fairly trivial football match? If you believe in prayer, surely it’s almost blasphemous to talk about praying one Saturday for Montrose FC’s deliverance from evil? Would victims of Nepal’s earthquakes, or of creaking refugee boatloads in the Mediterranean, or of festering Middle East conflict not be more appropriate issues to bother God with. Or what about delivering us all from the wickedness of our weapons for the mass destruction of men, women and children?
Puzzled about the whole business of prayer, and about what one should, or should not pray for. I value what one theologian says. He counsels that we shouldn’t censor, or be over guilty about praying for trivial things. Being honest and natural in what we bother God about is a good start in prayer. It leads in time to a better perspective on what things matter most for us.
So maybe my friend’s prayer on Saturday did help my team - and me - through an excruciating afternoon to relief and celebration. The Gable Endies’ chaplain was sitting beside me. I don’t know what it means, but since he started bringing his trainee guide dog, we haven’t lost a game.