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banner Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 13:23 GMT
Everton obey holy orders
Comedian Dick Emery dressed up as vicar
Dick Emery's TV vicar would have got his own way
Everton have agreed to delay their FA Cup match with Crewe - at the request of the local vicar.

The fifth round tie, which will be shown live on BBC1, was due to kick off at 1pm (1300BST) on Sunday 17 February.

But when the Reverend Harry Ross realised this might upset his parishioners, there was only ever going to be one winner.

I worship God first and then I worship the Blues
Rev Harry Ross

Now the game will get under way half an hour later.

Rev Ross, whose St Luke's the Evangelist church is right next to Goodison Park, explained that football had to come second on this occasion.

He said: "My Sunday morning service was due to start at 10.45am, but I've brought it forward to 10.30am.


"This, coupled with the kick-off going back half an hour, will give my congregation plenty of time to leave the church in complete safety and comfort.

"The changes have made 45 minutes difference and that's important to the women, children and elderly who attend the service.

"Harry Ross on his own couldn't have done it, but Harry Ross and God are an immoveable force!"

A spokeswoman for the club admitted it was an unusual step to take.

She told BBC Sport Online: "It does not usually affect us because games normally kick off at three or four O'Clock.

Walter Smith
Everton boss Walter Smith will be praying for a win

"But we were happy to put the tie back to accommodate the needs of the church - I suppose you could call it divine intervention."

A BBC spokeswoman added they had no problems with the switch.

Rev Ross, who is an Everton fan, denied mischievous claims that the only reason he had put in the request was so that he could go and watch the match himself!

He said he would be going along, but insisted: "I worship God first and then I worship the Blues.

"I may love Everton - but I love God more."

Reverend Harry Ross
"Harry Ross and God are an immoveable force!"
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