Football, faith and being an honourable man

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Parents can appreciate that it may take time for children to respond to requests that don’t require immediate action.

So it has been for my son who was asked in 2011 to consider contributing to this column for the weekend when we honour fatherhood.

He had delivered thoughts regarding mothers in May of that year – when one of our valued readers responded by letter requesting that the young Michael Bailey provide some further observations.

“I enjoyed reading your son’s reflections on Mother’s Day. Perhaps we could hear some more wisdom from him or his brothers” was the verdict delivered by that correspondent from Doonside.

Delays in my son’s response to addressing fathers weren’t prompted by him falling victim to the condition called “writer’s cramp” but were driven more by meeting the ever-busy demands of life and work through much of his 20s, and completing further university studies overseas.

Passing the baton to another source when readers have become accustomed to the style of a particular writer can be risky, but I hope that his observations that follow will resonate with the spirit of all families as much as they do with our own.

“As I edge closer to 28 years young, Father’s Day has become more than just a time when I consult my mum and Mike’s wife of 30 years, Helena, on which colour socks and how many cans of Guinness to buy dad. It truly has become a time to celebrate both the memories we have shared throughout the years, and the blessing we have in being able to make a few more.

“I am lucky that in my adult years dad and I have connected through shared interests such as travel, politics and reading the Sunday papers with a freshly poured coffee by our side.

“But when looking back and reflecting on this treasured bond that we share, I always come back to my earliest memories of our time together and getting to know one another as I grew.

“While he was always present at my own sporting fixtures, whether cricket, rugby league, rugby union or Sydney’s most difficult spectator sport, rowing, the time best spent with dad was always on our hour long trip to Campbelltown Stadium each fortnight during the late ‘90s.

“An avid and life-long fan of rugby league’s ‘fibros’, the Western Suburbs Magpies, Dad soon instilled in me the same passion for the club that captivated him many years earlier. Our love of that team and indeed the joint-venture they would soon form, has been the catalyst for many a conversation, but most of all, a shared connection.

“Those years were particularly tough for the team on the field, however memories of laughing in the car, stopping for McDonald’s or my personal favourite, getting a new black a white jersey, will remain with me always and one day hopefully be passed along to a child of my own.

“Father’s Day, much like the ritual of attending Mass, has become a time in which to give thanks and reflect. I am thankful for the relationship I have with my father, even more so knowing the fragility that is life as parents begin to age. With reflection, I look upon a childhood filled with great times and lasting memories, not just centred around football, but one made even greater by its inclusion.

“While my mother may disagree, there are many similarities between football and faith. Both can give hope for the future, but also help forge a bond with others in the present.

“And with that, happy Father’s Day to all. I know I’ll be celebrating the special occasion with these two intrinsic aspects of my life, and the man that taught me how to appreciate the important role each plays within me.”

While we may agree on the range of subjects he has outlined, we have different views about the role of the good old apostrophe: “Father’s Day” for him; “Fathers’ Day” for me.

Language masters of old told me it should follow the “s” to embrace all dads, while pressures from media and advertising mean that his usage is winning this debate.

I join with him in extending best wishes to all fathers.