Friday, 13 May 2022

Latics Shorts - Games Of Our Lives - Barry Worthington

 

Latics Shorts – The Games Of Our Lives

I’ve been a lifelong supporter of Wigan Athletic, my first game was 20th November 1971 an FA Cup tie against Halifax Town at Springfield Park, I’ve been a regular ever since, attending games with my mates, my family, my dad, then my own children and my grandchildren, I’ve also attended games by myself and made acquaintances at games that developed into friendships.

One such friendship was with the Eyre brothers, Brian and Keith. 

 

Keith, Pete, Brian & Norman circa 1997

I stood on the terracing at the half-way line at Springfield Park, St. Andrews side, I leant on the perimeter wall, had a great view of the game, each week the same people would gather in the same spot and we’d chat, share stories and watch the game together and slowly become good friends.

Keith was a quiz enthusiast and a member of a quiz team that quizzed in a league, I hadn’t realised there was such a thing, the quiz league ran on a Tuesday evening in pubs across Wigan, there came a dilemma.

Tuesday night fixtures at Springfield Park between early November and late March were a no go for Keith.

No such dilemma for Brian, never missed a game, loved his football and a proper character, he worked for GUS down at Martland Mill for years then, when the redundancies came, got himself a job as a Postie.

Brian was one of the good guys.

 

Tuesday 2nd December 1997, cold, damp and drizzly.
Wigan Athletic v Bristol Rovers, attendance 2,738


The score this night was Wigan Athletic 3-0 Bristol Rovers but the evening held a much bigger story than what the score-line suggested.

From setting out for the game to arriving home was one big adventure and one that remains etched on my mind.

The ex-wife always tried to be awkward (still does), picking up my lad from her place was never an easy task and when we had the dead-line of a kick-off to meet she took great delight in stalling as long as possible, anyway finally got to Springfield Park right on the last minute only to see my mate Brian waiting outside.

Brian Eyre was a great character, he was Latics through and through, I knew him, as previously explained, because I had stood next to him on the terraces for twenty years, sharing coffee, whisky and stories, we became very good friends.

Brian was standing outside the ground as I said, waiting for me and our Pete to arrive; when he saw us he said excitedly ‘I’ve got us in the stand tonight lads’. Brian had a mate who worked the door to the stand, Brian had lots of ‘mates’, and he managed to get us in for free, bonus, what with the CSA and all.

We sat in the Phoenix Stand that night, in the posh seats, there was a guy from Southampton sat with us, he was working in Southport that week and just fancied taking in a game, strange.

Any way it was an explosive game that saw Graeme Jones from the Latics and FOUR Bristol Rovers players sent off, Kevin Lynch was the ref, mad as a hatter.

 

Ian Kilford had given the Latics the lead on 20 minutes and the game was a bit to and fro after that, until the closing stages of the first half.

 

The first dismissal came on the stroke of half-time, a second bookable offence for David Pritchard following a challenge on David Lee on the Latics right, as the players lined up for the resultant free kick, it all kicked off!

 

Bristol Rovers pair Jason Perry and Andy Tilson along with Latics striker Graeme Jones were all shown straight reds and we were down to ten v eight with the whistle still not blown for the half-time break.

 

The second half got underway with Kilford’s strike giving the advantage to the Latics, but we were struggling to create any real chances and the crowd were getting impatient, they expected a cricket score.

There were more fun and games to come yet, Josh Low received his marching orders on 70 minutes for a 2nd yellow offence and the Gas just couldn’t keep the Latics out and David Lowe’s late double gave the score line some bite. 

The game is as infamous amongst Gas fans as it is with the Latics faithful.

Courtesy of Ed Collier


At full time I said I’d give Brian a lift home, he didn`t drive and lived at the back of Billinge Hospital, two buses and a good walk away, it was a bitterly cold night and he’d got us in for free, it was the least I could do, couldn`t have my mate going home on the bus, I bet he`d wished he had done though.

Got to the car and I had a flat tyre…lifted the boot to get the spare, that was flat as well, decided to drive to a service station and blow up what I knew to be a slow puncture, without a lie every service station between Springfield and Orrell didn`t have a working air supply, ended up with a ripped tyre, had to change the wheel at the Stag service station at Orrell and get some puncture fix which cost a tenner, so the money I`d saved on the free admission, £7:50 was lost on the car repair, gutted.

What a night, got home at 11:15!! The ex-wife was on the phone to the current wife demanding to know what the idiot (me) had done with her son, Brian said ‘you wont forget tonight in a hurry Baz’ he was right.

Sadly Brian died in July 2006, his brother Keith said at least he saw the Latics in the Premier League…following the move from Springfield Park I sat with Brian and Keith in the South stand until we got in the Prem, with me living in Gidlow and the Eyre brothers from the other side of town we ended up in the East and West respectfully, the last time I saw Brian was at the Carling Cup final in Cardiff February 2006, I knew he was ill but not how seriously.

Mention of memorable games and I automatically think of the Latics v Bristol Rovers match and my mate Brian, brings a tear to my eye, but fantastic memories.

 

It’s a long wait until the new seasons starts, so to help the time go a little quicker and to get that Latics fix, we are running a series of looking back on selected games from down the years.

Hopefully these reflections will have a personal touch and we would be grateful if individual supporters would submit their own stories to feature in the series, if you would like to get involved, please email barryworthington@hotmail.com

The series is also in audio form via our podcast

 



Sunday, 8 May 2022

My Favourite Latics XI

My all time favourite Latics XI league squad as featured in the Wigan Athletic v Morecambe programme a few weeks ago.


 

If I am being honest I change my opinion on this every single day, there have been so many players down the years that have been a ‘favourite’ of mine and miss out and could very easily have been included.

 

Firstly the formation, I’m definitely a 3-2-3-1-1 fan, a very flexible formation that allows for great interaction between positions, allows for the advanced midfield player to have a free role and I just love wingbacks.

 

In goal John Filan, what a keeper he was for us, signed by Paul Jewell from Blackburn a Premier League quality keeper in the 3rd tier some great performances but I remember him fondly for chasing a pigeon around the pitch on the last game of the season against Barnsley in May 2003.

 

The back three for me can only be Emmerson Boyce, Antolin Alcaraz and Paul Scharner, the foundation that our FA Cup final success was built upon, each one a Latics Legend, top quality players in their own right and complimented each other so much. Very comfortable on the ball and excellent defenders.

 

The two sitting midfielders, Wilson Palacios, El Mago, what a player he was, played with a smile on his face and lit up the pitch with his presence, arguably the most gifted player we have ever had, and Roberto Martinez, my all time favourite Latics player, the signing of Martinez along with Diaz and Seba was the start of our journey under Dave Whelan, a technically gifted player with a vision that was second to none.

 

The wingbacks, Antonee Robinson on the left, pace, technical ability and a great engine, Robinson’s debut for the Latics against Sheffield Wednesday in August 2018 was mind blowing.

 

On the right Louis Antonio Valencia, brought in by Paul Jewell on loan and signed permanently by Steve Bruce, a World Class player with an eye for goal, could defend, attack, cross, he had it all.

 

In the middle I’m plumping for Charles N’Zogbia, with a free role, he could – and did – win games on his own, the ball stuck to his feet when he went on his mazy runs, sublime talent with guts and determination.

 

The number 10 role is going to Shaun Maloney, fabulous in his time with us, two goals stand out, Millwall in the FA Cup semi-final and the winner against Manchester United at the DW Stadium in April 2012, he deserves his place just for those two.

 

Leading the line it’s got to be probably the most famous Latics striker of all time, Will Grigg, the fame is undoubtedly for the song ‘Will Grigg’s On Fire’ which is quite unfair because Grigg was sensational for us, his goals against Manchester City in the FA Cup and away at Doncaster in the title winning game back in May 2018 stand out but you felt that every time we played, Grigg would score.

 

Latics All Time XI - John Filan; Emmerson Boyce, Antolin Alcaraz, Paul Scharner; Wilson Palacios, Roberto Martinez; Antonio Valencia, Charles N’Zogbia, Antonee Robinson; Shaun Maloney; Will Grigg

 

 Manager – Leam Richardson, legend, everything to be said about him has already been said.

 

Subs – Ali Al Habsi, Jordi Gomez, Ben Watson, Graeme Jones, Callum Lang

 

Each one of the subs was a near miss, but just as valuable to me as those that made it, Watson for obvious reasons, Al Habsi loved by everyone at the club, Gomez, just wow, what a player, Graeme Jones blood and thunder striker and our record scorer in a season, Callum Lang, the future of the Latics, his goals turned our season a round last year and saved us from relegation, this season he has stepped up another level and is as much a part of the Latics as each and every one of us sat in the stands.

 

Up the tics!

 



 


Saturday, 7 May 2022

Joseph's Goal Benefit Night At The Swinley


A Date For Your Diaries – Friday 10th June 2022

 

 

Joseph’s Goal Benefit Night – The Swinley, Wigan Lane, Wigan WN1 2LQ

 

Come and join us for a fantastic evening’s entertainment at the Swinley as we support the Joseph’s Goal Charity, all funds raised going directly to the charity.

 

The evening will be a fun filled event starting at 7:30pm and featuring:

Joseph’s Goal The Play – Introduced by Chloe Foston, telling the tale of a dad and his lad attempting to find their way to the 2013 FA Cup Final and the escapades along the way. (25mins)

Cine Racing - £1 per bet (cash only) Six Races

Wigan Kebab Supper – Pie and a Barm

Disco 70s & 80s classics plus Motown – DJ Phil

 

Tickets are just £5 each and available via DMing our twitter feed @PWUPodcast, through the PWU group page on Facebook or by emailing pwupots2022@gmail.com

 

Thank you for your continued support 


 

Friday, 29 April 2022

What A Season - What A Club - Wigan Athletic

This has been some season, what a ride once again supporting Wigan Athletic, but this time it’s been a little different.

We are now in a new era, following the turbulent 10 months of administration and 18 months of not being able to attend games through the pandemic, a new era with new owners and a renewed optimism running through the club.

What has unfolded this season must be looked at in the context of what went before, down and out, literally no money and no players, a manager who was operating with both hands tied behind his back.

We have bounced back so effectively that we now stand on the verge of promotion back to the Championship and a full reset from two years ago.

 

The turnaround is testament to the hard work of all involved, Leam Richardson and his new coaching staff have been phenomenal, they have brought in 17 new players to the squad got them to gel and perform at the top of their performance levels from the word go. Making the top four of League One before August was out and staying there all season, sensational.

We have suffered injury losses to key players throughout the campaign, Wyke, Cousins, Tilt, Magennis and McClean all out for a length of time, but we still managed to keep the results coming in.


Off the pitch the hard work and dedication shown by CEO Mal Brannigan cannot be understated, new initiatives like the Believe Fans Fund, early release of Season Tickets, working tirelessly on projects to get the club back on its feet following the devastating effect of having the administrators in.

 

 

It is though what we do on the pitch that matters most to the supporters of the club and my word have we shone, at home but especially on our travels. Some of the away days this season have been legendary, the absolute annihilation of Bolton in their own back yard will stay with the Latics fans for many years.

There have been others too. Accrington and their fan zone was excellent, a trip to the Fylde Coast never fails to disappoint and that comeback after being two down with Tilty grabbing the winner in front of the away end, I could go on and on, Plymouth, Oxford, Wycombe and many more.

Just lately we have stuttered as we reach the climax to the season, but so too have our nearest rivals, it is tense and teams undoubtedly raise their game against ‘the top of the league’ sides, no one wants to be the team that lost and got so and so promoted, but it is more than that.

Shrewsbury will be the 61st game of this season, that is some going and it is understandable that the lads are a little jaded, no doubting their effort and they are clearly fired up for each game, but a long season does take its toll.

So we go into the game at the New Meadow looking to ensure we don’t see the extremely unlikely event of a seven goal swing to MK Dons occur and also at least match Rotherham’s result away at battling Gillingham, to be crowned the Champions of League One.

Champions of League One.

Writing that down feels so surreal considering the journey we have travelled over the past 12 months or so, it may not come about, we may be pipped, but we are certainly in the driving seat going into the weekend games and that will do for me.

It is almost, almost a certainty that we will be promoted and who wouldn’t have taken that last summer, to get the title too will be an achievement to rank with the best we have achieved over the years.

 


Leam Richardson deserves ever plaudit coming his way, a gentleman, a leader and already a Latics Legend.

So here’s to you Leam Richardson, Wigan really does love you more than you will know, thank you to Talal for your enthusiasm, drive and belief in our club and our town and thank you Mal for pulling it all together behind the scenes and giving us the opportunity to stand tall once more.

 

I'll shed more than a couple of tears tomorrow, so proud of my club, our club Wigan Athletic

 

Up the tics!