Cliff Allchin was recently appointed club chaplain of Dewsbury Rams.

Here, Cliff explains a little more about the role and what it entails.

“A couple of years ago we were approached by my predecessor, Chris Battye, to help out with a possible carol service at the Rams.

“At the last minute, that was cancelled, but Chris and I decided to explore the possibility of a prayer partnership between The Salvation Army and the chaplaincy and we took on the task of praying for three players each season.

“Chris and I met up regularly for coffee and prayer and I joined him occasionally as his guest at some of the home matches.

“Last season, Chris’s illness worsened and he had to make the difficult decision that it would have to be his last as club chaplain.

“I had considered offering my help as cover when he approached me with the idea of taking over from him.

“This was ratified by the chairman, Mark Sawyer, and by Chaplains in Sport UK, of which I am a member, and I duly took over from Chris when pre-season training began in November.

“There is no set job description and I am working on a meeting with Neil Kelly so that we can have a discussion on this role of a chaplain.

“I see the position as one which works alongside the background team at the club.

“Some provide health support, some provide fitness management guidance, and others administrative tasks.

“My role is to provide spiritual support and a listening ear perhaps when things are not quite running smoothly at home, or there is long-term injury, doubts about new contract possibilities.

“But I am also concerned with all who are connected to the club, not just the playing staff.

“There are a tremendous group of volunteers here that I try to talk with before the match, as well as the unsung heroes who work for the club in the offices, the ground staff, media and then there are the supporters.

“So, for instance, if a supporter finds themselves in hospital and they make it known I’ll go and pay them a visit and add another dimension to their recovery.

Rugby League sets the pace as far as chaplains in sport goes.

“All Premier Clubs are required to have a chaplain.  Other clubs are advised that it is good practise to have one.

“I believe that this recognises that in life there are many situations that can lead to any number of reactions and sport settings are not isolated from them.

“I am a supporter of Liverpool FC and know from first-hand experience the tragedies that happen in sport.

“One of my friends was at Hillsborough and another had the duty of manning the makeshift morgues, taking the families through to identify the victims of that tragedy.

“There are times when we need to come together as a sporting community and a chaplaincy role helps facilitate that function.”

“I am from Kent originally and I was brought up on Rugby Union.

“As a teenager, I had trials for Kent Schools as a prop and was vice-captain of the school cricket team.

“Cricket has been one of my main sporting passions, and although I did go to a couple of Bradford Bulls games a few years ago when a friend was a sponsor there, apart from that it is completely new.

“Thankfully, Chris Battye has been patiently explaining the laws to me, and a couple of the players have answered my questions about the tactics that were used during particular matches, and that has helped me enormously.

“I am in the enviable position now of being able to see some of the training being put into practice in the match situation and I am sure with the knowledgeable Rams supporters sitting around me I will soon get past the stage of merely counting the tackles!

I have attended a couple of events over the last month and so I am gradually being seen around the club.

“On match days, I will be aiming to be at the ground at least an hour before kick-off and will have a walk around the ground talking to various people.

“It would be a tremendous help if folks came up and said ‘hi’.

“My ‘day job’ is that of a Salvation Army minister, and my rank is that of Major.

“I have been an officer for 36 years and have a BA in Pastoral Care with Psychology.

“I am married to Joy, who is also an officer, and we have three children and four grandchildren.

“We have ministered in various locations around the UK, including Middlesbrough, Stockton, Falmouth, Boston, Doncaster, Manchester, Norwich, Bedford and now, Mirfield.

“My sports passions are Liverpool FC, Kent CCC, Sale Sharks and, of course, Dewsbury Rams!  I enjoy walking, writing and reading.”

“I am looking forward to serving the good people associated with Dewsbury Rams and building up good, solid relationships that will enhance the standing of this wonderful club.

“My email address is cliff.allchin@salvationarmy.org.uk, should anyone need to contact me.”