St. Luke's Chaplain
How often do you get to see Everton?
I go to every home match, and have done for many years now.
Is the local community your home?
It is not my local home, but obviously I know a lot about the area as I have been at St. Luke’s for a while now.
How long have you been in the position, and what does it actually entail?
30 years this year as vicar of St. Luke’s and EFC chaplain; however this only became official 13 years ago. Being chaplain means I always have to be available at Goodison, for any of the staff, from Bill Kenwright at the top, to the stewards and cleaners, or anyone else. I’m available for anyone at the club. I was also available for those at the mega-store, before that was taken over by JJB 2 seasons ago. I regularly visit fans or staff in hospital, and I provide help and spiritual guidance.
What are the historical links between St. Lukes and EFC?
The church was here before the stadium. It’s quite unique in that it is such a part of the club; not just in physical terms.
Lots of talk and propositions of relocation, do you think it will materialize?
Yes, definitely. I think now they have a proposed location in Kirkby, they will get planning permission and start building very soon. I would say EFC will have a new home by 2010.
How do you think this would affect the community as a whole?
I believe the affect of relocation would have very bad repercussions on the local area. Local shops and workers at Goodison would have to change, with some of the workers possibly resorting to crime and drugs. There is an already quite bad crime and drug problem in the area, this would no doubt escalate. Housebound elderly would lose local shops, which they have relied on for so long. Travelling to a super-store for the elderly is practically very difficult.
EFC Football In The Community is very effective, would relocation mean the community would suffer from relocation of the community work also?
The club do so much in the area, and have done for years. I think when they do move, it will inevitably be out of the community, and I can’t see how they can continue the community work. They might be able to do visits now and again, but the regular programmes they have now would have to be dropped.
Do you think people view the church as a symbol of the club?
St. Luke’s certainly is a symbol of Everton’s identity, it serves as a meeting point for thousands, and visitors know the connections and history between the club and the church, such as looking after the former players. St. Luke’s runs a charity which helps with all the ex-players, looking after them on match days, as well as funding operations they may need, such as hip replacements.
What affect does EFC have on the congregation of the church?
The congregation is mixed, LFC and EFC fans working together on match-days. The congregation itself probably would not be affected by relocation; however, this could change depending on what happens to Goodison Park. I personally think it will be made into a supermarket, which would have a big effect on the church itself, with late-night “yobs” pottering about at all hours of the night.
Do you think St. Lukes being Anglican has any affect on Catholic football fans?
I don’t think the church being Anglican has any affect on catholic EFC fans no.
Are there any programmes in the church that have direct involvement with EFC?
As well as the old-players programmes, St. Luke’s opens at 12.30 when there is a 3pm kick off. It is open to the public for a tea break before the match, with over 30 pints of milk being used on an average match day. It is also used for the police briefing prior to matches, as well as a place for the police to have a tea break whilst the match is on. Upstairs in the church every week is a stall with thousands of old programmes for sale, from seasons gone by. We also have a remembrance garden for Everton fans worldwide, where ashes can be sent and plaques made. Local vicars are well represented, as well as international fans from Canada, New Zealand and other countries. We also hold a service once a year for all the staff at Everton, where many players and directors come.
Do you think the church has had any affect on EFC?
Certainly, for example, I have stood up against a few campaigns to knock down St. Luke’s to extend the Main Stand; as did the previous vicar. Early kick off’s on Sundays never occur at Goodison due to the affect it would have on the congregation of the church. The church has a deal with BBC, ITV and BSkyB to prevent the early kick offs.