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Hand of God:

8 April 2013

Club chaplain is saving his prayers for Millwall reaching the FA Cup Final

Writing in yesterday's Sunday Mirror, Anthony Clavane spoke with Millwall Club Chaplain Fr Owen Beament ahead of Saturday's FA Cup Semi Final with Wigan Athletic.
It is an unmissable read!

Hand of God: Club chaplain is saving his prayers for Millwall reaching the FA Cup Final

When Millwall bid to reach their first Wembley FA Cup Final in six days’ time, Father Owen Beament believes they will have an important 12th man on their side – The Man Upstairs.
The club chaplain, who proudly wears a metal Lion badge next to his dog collar, has been the south ­Londoners’ most committed follower for almost half a century.
He remembers when they got to their first ever major cup final at the Millennium Stadium nine years ago.
“For the whole of the second half against Sunderland [in the semi-final], we were holding on to a one-goal lead,” Beamont recalled.
“I was praying: ‘God please we ­deserve this one, we need this one. It will be justice. You believe in justice’.
“When the final whistle went, and we’d won, I said a couple of Hail Marys. I know this was cheating. I shall have to answer to this on the Day of ­Judgement.”
He roars with laughter. The 71-year-old priest is a very funny man.
“The whole area is full of laughter,” the vicar of All Saints Church, Deptford, south-east London points out.
“Millwall is a vital part of the south-east London community.
“In 2004 I was at Paddington, on the way to Cardiff for the FA Cup Final. The place was a total sea of blue and white and our fans were cheering. As I walked up to get the train, people kept saying ‘Hello Father’.” Lazy pundits, of course, continue to present a negative image of The Lions, who are often associated with football’s worse traits.
Father Owen said: “People outside Millwall laugh when I tell them what I do. But I love it. I wouldn’t swap the people for anyone.
“The image of Millwall does not tie up immediately with the image of Christianity. It should, though, ­because I reckon the 12 people Christ chose as his disciples would be more at home here than at ­Manchester United. They were thoroughly down to earth, a bit impetuous, all working class, not your aristocracy by a long way.”
But what does a club chaplain do exactly – apart from praying for unlikely wins?
A few years ago, he rushed to hospital after a player had broken his leg. He laughed: “He took one look at me and said ‘I’m not that bad am I?’.
“I do take funerals for fans, actually. At the end of it they sing the Millwall song, ‘Let ’em all come down to The Den’. On Easter Sunday, at the end of the mass I gave out two notices: one about mass on Easter Monday, the other about the Millwall game. There was loud cheering.
“At games people will say: ‘I put that goal down to you, Father’.”
If the Championship side get to the final, will he again say a few Hail Marys?
“Oh yes and I will also be having a few gin and ­tonics. It’s 11 against 11. Football is about heart as much as money. And I think this club has got a bigger heart than any club in the country.”

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