Former Linfield midfielder Philip Mitchell pays tribute to the Rev Bill Lavery who has recently advised club officials of his intention to step down from his long-standing role of Club Chaplain and in recognition of his sterling service, he has been awarded the title of Honorary Club Chaplain.

“Bill Lavery was one of the pioneers of Sports Chaplaincy and Football Chaplaincy in Northern Ireland – and I still have all my pages of notes he gave me when I first took on the job as coordinator in 2015, as to how his role had developed over the previous 12 years.

His service at Linfield set the tone for Chaplaincy – that it wasn’t just about being available in a crisis – it was about being present and available every week, getting to know people, taking an interest in everyone at the club (not just players) and their families and providing a non judgmental listening ear, or a word of encouragement on training nights, match days or away from the football arena.

He organised Christmas Carol services and Sportsman services for everyone and in particular, he led the way in supporting injured players. All of this done at times against the back drop of difficulties of his own.

I would like to thank Bill for his many years of service at Linfield, particularly in those formative years and the example he set for so many other chaplains who followed.

And I look forward to seeing him in and around football and sports gatherings in the years ahead”

Philip Mitchell,
Coordinator for Sports Chaplaincy in Ireland