‘Joy’ – the middle name of a dear friend in the 70s. ‘Joy’ – according to Buddhism the quality associated with Thursday born children – the day of my birth and one other ‘joyful’ person of my acquaintance. ‘Joy to the world’ – it’s Christmas! – no it’s not, but yes it is in my world and that of at least 20,000 people with whom I shared Sunday evening.

You now need to Google highlights of the match which will bring you some joy of your own – if you like footy. If you don’t, you’ll have left sometime in the first paragraph. 🙂

I know; ‘it’s only football’, but it’s so much more than that. ‘It’s only football’ comes nowhere near describing the all-consuming, passionate joy that comes from seeing your team immerse themselves in success after many, many years of stumbling failure and unfulfilled promise.

Football is a cohesive force that unites communities and brings love to the people, or perhaps that’s only my belief.

Okay – time for a bit of sociology. Emile Durkheim claimed that religion was a cohesive force that provided social integration and moral regulation. In our secular society, football has perhaps replaced religion in providing these functions. To be a true football supporter is to have complete loyalty to your club for life and accept the ethics associated with being part of that community. Try swapping your support to a rival club and see what happens. A certain amount of admonishment may come your way.

In an earlier post I referred to the Buddhist idea that while all of life is suffering, the ultimate goal is enlightenment.

PNE 4 Swindon 0 may not be nirvana but it felt pretty, damn close on Sunday. We Preston North End fans can now look forward to next season joyfully.

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