My love of Wigan Athletic has been going back since 2002. Well before the rest of the town decided to show an interest in the club. I had recently attended a Wigan Athletic Community Coaching scheme which resulted in us all being handed free tickets for the upcoming match against Bristol City.
Going to Wigan v Bristol was a strange experience for me. Only a week earlier I had been to Old Trafford, and The JJB as it was then known was a different world completely. These were the days when half of the small amount of Wigan faithful found it socially acceptable to wear Manchester United and Liverpool shirts. When you could park at the stadium for £2. WHEN IT WAS UNRESERVED SEATING! But of course, all of that has changed now.
When the fixture list comes out, there’s one match that immediately catches the attention of everybody within this area. Wigan v Bolton. You just can’t get better than a Lancashire derby.
Setting off from Atherton at 13:30 it took me about 15 minutes to get to Wigan on the train before then embarking upon the long walk to the stadium. I hate this walk with a passion, but after attending over 40 matches at The DW over the years I have managed to find a few alternative routes.
Due to the fact I went to this match by myself, it was fairly quiet. Apart from when a Policeman pushed me and told me to go down a particular path to the stadium – I then shouted some expletives at him, put my earphones back in and continued to the turnstiles.
This is where I bumped into a Liverpool fan who has been watching Wigan since 1999. We had a good moan about football in general, and he told me about his trips to Istanbul and Hillsborough. After talking for a while, we decided it was time to get inside and eat a pie.
It always feels weird entering the turnstiles of the away end at Wigan, and today was no different. Walking up the stairs was a challenge for two reasons. The first being that Liverpool v United was being shown on the TV’s on the concourses – leading to overcrowding. The second being that Bolton fans have a habit of walking up the stairs, and immediately bump into somebody they know – Either a friend or a long lost relative.
I know “T’DW like t’back of me ‘and” as I heard somebody say today on the train. I found my seat with no problem and it was a very good view for once. Last time I was in the away end a couple of Sherpa Guides escorted me to my seat and supplied me with an oygen tank.
Despite being able to pay on the turnstiles the Bolton end was packed, and we were creating a brilliant atmosphere, out singing the ES3 yobs congregated to our left. I know that comment is extremely two-faced as I am an ES3 yob, but life goes on.
“To come to Wigan – Our local derby, I’ve got to say a big thankyou to our supporters. 4,000 fans have come along and with that vocal backing it felt like 20,000.” – Owen Coyle on our support.
To my left was The East Stand, or as it is now called Boston Stand. Named after the Wigan Warriors legend Billy Boston who played over 400 matches for The Cherry and White over 15 years. This stand houses the scoreboard and the more vocal of the fans. I’ve spent many joyful hours in ES3 cheering on The Latics, none more so than when Wigan sent Hull and West Ham down in consecutive seasons. Both resulting in a pitch invasion of course!
Directly in front of me stood The South Stand. This is my rugby stand! £24 for a season ticket, and the atmosphere created on a matchday is phenomenal. However, for football it is used to seat sports clubs and families. I really enjoy the view from The South Stand, even if you are surrounded by a load of screaming children.
To my right was The Pensioners Stand. Or as it is formally known Springfield Stand, Wigan Athletic have a scheme where they only allow pensioners to sit in the Springfield Stand, this ultimately results in it being awarded my ‘Most pathetic atmosphere award’. The stand has media facilities, executive boxes and the dugouts.
Bolton started the game far the brighter team and were attacking from the off. Deservedly breaking the deadlock within the first 3 minutes. Nigel Reo-Coker scored his first goal for The Wanderers when he met Chris Eagles’ cross to finish past former Bolton keeper Ali Al Habsi.
This woke Wigan up and after a long period of pressure they levelled through a brilliant goal from Mohamed Diame. Picking the ball up on the edge of the area he curled it towards the goal and Jussi Jaaskelainen didn’t even attempt to save it.
Just as the teams were beginning to prepare for half time Wigan had a metaphorical balls-up in their defence. The ever reliable Steve Gohouri was caught in possession by Super Kevin Davies, before he then squared it to David N’Gog who then slotted the ball past the unfortunate Al Habsi to send Bolton in at half time the happier of the two teams.
I didn’t even bother moving at half time as I know what the concourses at Wigan are like. So instead, I chose to watch a group of Canadian children take part in a penalty shoot out. The goalkeeper was the Wigan mascot ‘Phoenix’. If you are not familiar with Phoenix, he looks like Rhydian Roberts off The XFactor.
The second half kicked off and Wigan looked dangerous with their key player Victor Moses bossing the midfield. Who needs to watch Lionel Messi when you have Victor Moses playing for Wigan, and Mark Davies playing for Bolton?
Dedryck Boyata should have sealed the match for Bolton half-way through the second half when he somehow managed to head over from 5 yards out. However, he made up for this when he won a penalty when Gary Caldwell pushed him.
As soon as Super Kevin Davies put down the ball and Ali Al Habsi approached him, we all knew he was going to miss.
Along came another barrage of pressure from The Latics, but fortunately for us Bolton held on and Chris Eagles scored to secure the 3 points.
The walk back to Wigan was another long one as the police enjoy making life difficult for Bolton fans. But, as I’m not one to grumble… WE WON! Yes, we actually won! I wandered home very happily, and even purchased another pie in order to celebrate.
I have seen many great matches at Wigan, and will continue to do so.
- DISTANCE TRAVELLED TO GROUND: 9 miles
- PROGRAMME PRICE: £3
THE DAY WEST HAM GOT RELEGATED…