The Oliver Coss column: More in common?

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Saints, Carnival and D-Day brought us together. What could we gain if we keep hold of that spirit?

I don’t think I can really even pretend to me much of a sports fan, btu I think few people could, in the last few days, have failed to be swept up in the joy that has erupted over Northampton Saints’ victory at Twickenham.

We have a fruitful football team and a respected cricket team in this town, but I challenge you to have been on the streets of Northampton during Saints’ victory parade last Sunday and come to any conclusion than it’s a rugby town at heart.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As the town continues to come back to life, we’re well used to seeing a gentle incline in the business of town, as sceptics and optimists alike come to see what’s new in a gradually changing streetscape. There’ll be something of an uplift in the coming year, as the Market Square reopens and Abington Street completes its refurbishment. There’ve been tough times for this town, but renewal will be driven primarily by people who never lost faith in it, and that can only have been helped by the thousands who gathered, shoulder to shoulder, to see whether Courtney Lawes would actually have any clothes on when he lifted the trophy in front of the Guildhall.

Father Oliver CossFather Oliver Coss
Father Oliver Coss

It’d also be a mistake to think that this was a rarity though. As Saints paraded into town, it was at the very conclusion of a busy weekend for Northampton town. Inconvenienced by the public realm works, of course, thousands participated in Northampton Carnival, pioneered and managed by the treasured Morcea Walker. I think actual tonnes of jerk chicken must’ve been consumed on the Racecourse. In pleasant sunshine and cool winds, it drew astonishing crowds, bringing all sorts of people together.

A little more quietly, Northamptonshire Royal British Legion spent some of Saturday drawing service personnel, cadets, and veterans together to mark the 80th Anniversary of D-Day. There’s a huge amount to be said both about Operation Overlord, and what it cost so many to gain the freedom of Europe, and much of it already has been said by others more erudite than I.

But reading the letters and speeches of King George VI, of Montgomery, Eisenhower, of archbishops and chaplains, all who had anything to say to others on that day, what’s noticeable is that when they spoke they were sure they were speaking to, and being heard, by everyone. I wonder whether, when the election is over, and we’ve done with a time of fractiousness, we might take that most important lesson from our forebears (nearly all of whom are gone from us) who won that great victory – that it took all of them, all of the time, until they had reached their objective. Perhaps if we can put aside our divisions a little more frequently, we might also put our past behind us.