All supporters are invited to attend the Cliftonville FC Carol Service after tomorrow’s Danske Bank Premiership fixture with Glenavon, which is our last home game before Christmas.
The occasion will once again be conducted by our Club Chaplain, Reverend Dario Leal of the 1st Ballynahinch Presbyterian Church, who looks forward to extending a warm welcome to everyone in attendance and explains how the seeds of his love for the Reds were sown as a child in his native Chile.
“I love football and, when I was a young boy, I remember my father taking me to watch a Chilean Premiership match – Union Espanola (Spaniards United) against Audax Italiano (Italian Audax),” he explains.
“Both Clubs were founded in the early 1900 by Spaniards and Italians. That was my first time ever at a football match, I still remember it as if it was yesterday.
“Football is a family affair, so my admiration and love for the Reds begun as I supported Union Espanola, who are also called The Reds.
“As we celebrate Christmas at Cliftonville FC, I cannot help but to be grateful for the blessing of being with an amazing group of people that makes this not just a Club but a family – a strong, committed family that is capable of enduring bad times and overcoming them, and a family willing to celebrate the efforts, achievements and victories.
“This year, one cherished family member left us. He served the Reds for many years and was known as ‘the gentlemen’. Loved and respected by all at Cliftonville, Freddie Jardine. Freddie and I used to talk about football, the Reds, life and faith and I was always moved by his gentle nature and character.
“Gentleness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit capable of making us strong in times when we are challenged. It is my prayer that we may have much of it as we journey together in our support and love for the Club.
“I want to invite you to our Carol Service after this weekend’s match. We are going to give thanks and celebrate all the good things that we have been blessed with.
“This invitation is a Cliftonville family affair. I asked one of our fans, David, why he enjoys coming to our Carol Service and he explained: ‘I always really enjoy staying behind after the match with fellow Reds for the Carol Service.
This time of year can be busy and chaotic so it’s a real blessing to take some time out to remember what Christmas is really all about – the miracle of Jesus coming from Heaven to Earth.
‘It’s fantastic to be able to do that right here at Solitude. While the fortunes of the Club matter to us as fans, I’m sure we all know deep down that Bill Shankly was badly mistaken when he claimed that football was more important than life and death.
‘The Carol Service is a special time when supporters, players and officials can come together as a family to consider what really matters in terms of Christmas, life and faith.’
“To the Chairman, the Board, Club Members, players, coaching staff, support staff, all of you who volunteer to make this family great and to you, the Red Army, I want to prayerfully wish you a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year.
“May we find the Grace of God this Christmas and let us be thankful for this New Year.”
‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’. Isaiah. 7:14
Come on the Reds!
Rev Dario Leal,