On 8th May 2010 Killie scraped from Falkirk the point they needed to stay in the top flight. Then I was Killie chaplain and managed to make a right mess of my face shaving before the game. Yesterday I was a supporter at Rugby Park, sat beside present chaplain James McNay. Following a football team can seriously damage your health, such is the stress and strain of defeat and threatened relegation. And the more wrapped up in the object of your passion the more severe the ups and downs will be. Thus, I have some sympathy for Falkirk, Rangers, Crystal Palace and Irvine Meadow, and their supporters, after recent results, but oh the relief to see Killie salvage a sorry season in one fell swoop, scudding Falkirk 4 – 0!

According to The Mental Health Foundation, “When your team does well, it prompts feelings of happiness, well-being and collective euphoria. Fans ‘bask in reflected glory’ (BIRG)… It is thought that watching football may be cathartic. It has been suggested that the atmosphere of a live football match is socially inclusive. Fans step into their team identity by wearing clothes and using language they would not usually use in their everyday lives. They can behave in ways that encourage a cathartic release of tension’ through shouting, screaming, gesturing and chanting. Pent up internalised feelings and intense emotion such as frustration annoyance or sadness can be vented in a socially acceptable way. Men can express and release internalised emotion that they don’t feel able to express in other ways.”

However, the increase in domestic abuse which can result after a humiliating defeat against arch-rivals, is well documented, and high blood pressure and heart attacks are known to be brought on by sudden events on the field. On the other hand, did you know that ‘going to church’ can seriously deepen your wellbeing and increase your years? So says a study in the States (Daily Mail / Harvard School of Public Health). Okay, it homes in on women, but I don’t doubt the same principles apply to blokes.

The Study viewed nearly 75,000 church-goers over a 20-year-period (1992 – 2012). Those who attended more than once a week were 33% less likely to die early, the increased sense of optimism and community thought to be major reasons. “Our results suggest that there may be something important about religious service attendance beyond solitary spirituality,” Professor VanderWeele said. “Part of the benefit seems to be that attending religious services increases social support, discourages smoking, decreases depression, and helps people develop a more optimistic or hopeful outlook on life.”

Okay, I may be biased, but it certainly works for me and allows me to see games like yesterday’s nerve jangling joust in a bigger and better perspective! St Paul clinches it,

“Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (MSG)