Usually when I go to a match it is a well planned affair, however my decision to go to this match was made only around 3 hours before kick off. I was sitting bored at school and I had been hearing everybody talking about this fixture all day. I had taken an early decision not to go, but after much deliberation I cracked and asked Lewis if he fancied it.
The rivalry between Leigh and Wigan is HUGE… or so I am lead to believe by the many Leigh fans I know. In reality us Wigan fans have ‘bigger fish to fry than Leigh’. However, with us losing yet another match against The Leythers; it will be us getting another year full of stick. Yes, we will get stick despite the fact we put out our U-20 squad.
The rivalry between the two towns dates back to the time of the mining strikes. The Leigh Miners went back to work whilst the Wigan Miners continued to strike. Eventually the Wigan Miners returned back to working; but on a lower wage than beforehand. It was said that “Wigan Miners had eaten Humble Pie” and the name “Pie Eaters” has stuck locally since. The photo on the left is of the car sticker in my mums Corsa!
It was quite ironic that when I bought a pie I was subjected to yet another appalling attempt. More on that pie-lemma later!
I live only 3.5 miles from Leigh Sports Village, so my Mum said she’d drop me off at the stadium. This was fantastic as it meant I didn’t have to catch the cheerful 582 service between Bolton and Leigh. At 17:30 it was announced that the fixture was subject to a pitch inspection at 18:00 after heavy rain throughout the day.
The pitch passed its vigorous inspection and I agreed to meet Lewis “Underneath T’Big Screen” at 18:40. I have not yet seen another stadium that has a huge interactive screen mounted on the outside of its main stand. This screen is a pivotal part of the community, and it advertises important offers at Morrisons which is situated directly opposite.
The ‘entertainment’ below The Big Screen was provided by local community group ‘Nowt2Do’. We felt slightly embarrassed watching the girls dancing as we knew the vast majority of them from school and Facebook.
Lewis and I then went up to the ticket office where we purchased two tickets for the Wigan end. We didn’t need proof of age as the woman who served us is a woman of many trades. Not only does she work in the ticket office… she also works as a steward at Salford City Reds, and more importantly, works at our school. The tickets were £4 each, which was pretty good going.
Tickets bought. Money placed into the ‘Save Leigh Centurions’ bucket. It was now time to find my Mum in Morrisons – I needed a couple of pounds for a matchday programme. I also taught Lewis how to use a self-service checkout. We exited Morrisons with a bag of cookies and a milkshake, ready for the action.
We entered the ground, and we were sat in the North Stand. It was unreserved seating, as is so often the case at LSV. I asked the stewards where the programmes where, to which they replied –
“There’s one woman walking around the stadium with a box of them in her hands.”
After waiting around for 20 minutes I decided that enough was enough. I marched into the West Stand where I found a lad selling them for £2.50. Money well spent! You can see Zack and I on the back page where they have taken a photo of the terracing last summer. I jogged back from the West Stand in front of all of the screaming Nowt2Do girls.
It was now time for a bit of ‘ball boy banter’ – Don’t worry. We don’t just travel around stadiums with the prime aim of shouting abuse at the ballboys. We know these ballboys, and they are well known for their antics on the LSV pitch. Matthew Wilkinson, Patrick Barry and Jordan McGill – Watch out for these three cheeky Leythers when you are next down at LSV. Although, if you come next season they won’t be there as they are getting a bit too old now.
We met up with Zack who was also in the away end, and we found a spot right at the top of the South Stand.
To our left was the West Stand. This is the main stand at LSV and it houses the relatively cheap hospitality boxes, players facilities and you can find us there for every single Blackburn Reserves fixture. We usually turn up to these matches singing Bolton songs. We took it too far once, and we got chucked out!
To our right was the unused East Stand. This stand is only ever used when international rugby league visits LSV. When England do play at Leigh it is a fantastic occasion, and with it being announced recently that World Cup 2013 Rugby will be coming to Leigh – there is bound to be yet more excitement around the town.
Directly in front was my favourite stand at LSV; the North Stand. It is the only terraced stand at the stadium, and the majority of vocal Leigh fans stand there. Combined with an array of flags, and fans that wear their colours it can be a spectacle on its day.
Wigan began the game strongly, forcing an early drop-out and Joe Mellor missing a chance to score until the deadlock was broken when the home side opened the scoring after quarter of an hour.
Warriors then put themselves under more pressure by conceding a penatly from the kick-off for offside. Leigh took advantage by sending Sam Hopkins over for a close range try under the posts.
It was at this point Jordan McGill – The big headed ballboy came on the pitch and started celebrating in front of us lot. He was later shouted at by the man in charge. He was also subjected to endless amounts of abuse off Zack, Lewis and myself.
Centurions third try came when Bob Beswick and Ricky Murphy worked space well to set up Dean McGilvary to dive into the corner.
Ryan Brierly missed with his shot at goal for the first time of the evening, leaving the score at 16-0.
Adam Clay was next to score for Leigh, as Johnathan Pownall broke through. The scrambling Wigan defence almost prevented the try being scored, but Clay eventually managed finding the line by sliding across the rain-soaked surface.
The klaxon went, and the teams went in for half time. Wigan were lucky that the score was only 22-4 after being dominated for all of the first half.
Now, with all of the pie history I thought it was only right to purchase a pie from downstairs. The distinctive aroma of smoke was sweeping around the concourse, and there were fire stewards running around frantically. They told me that a pie had burnt, and that’s what was causing the smell. Oh well, keeps them in the job.
I purchased a Steak Pie for £2.80. No problem.
Or was there?
I gave the man who served me £3… I received 90p change? BONUS!
But wait. The confusion didn’t stop there. I returned to my seat and broke into the crust, when I horrifically discover that I had been given a Cheese and Onion pie. I marched back, and demanded a swap. No problem, they gave me a Steak Pie… which was a bit burnt. To cut a long story short, I rate their pies at 2/10 and I didn’t even want to finish it. Zack had exactly the same problem with his Meat & Potato.
We then went for a bit of a walk, and I had my photo with the mascot – I don’t have a clue what it is, but his hand smelt.
The best part of the evening by far was seeing Leigh legend Tommy Sale MBE come out on to the pitch to a standing ovation. He is quite simply Mr. Leigh. After having a few photos of himself with his MBE the Leigh fans unveiled a new flag for their North Stand terrace. A fitting tribute to a man who has done so much for the club throughout his lifetime.
Wigan began the second half quite well in search for the first points, and they created the early chances.
Matt Gardner capitalised on Wigans indiscipline was to score another try for the home side. Referee Ben Thaler penalised Anthony Gelling to put Leigh in a scoring position. Matt Gardner ran over from short range to send ballboy Jordan McGill dancing on the pitch again.
Shae Lyon Fraser scored in the corner for the Warriors. Murphy couldn’t hit the extras from out wide,and the score stood at 26-10.
The Wigan fans gave up hope of winning the match well before the end, and so we decided in just singing. Here are my particular favourites –
♫ We paid for your ground! We paid for your ground! What a waste of council tax! We paid for your ground! ♫
That song is due to the fact LSV was funded completely by Wigan Council.
♫ You’re just a bus stop in Wigan! Bus stop in Wigan! ♫
Well, that particular song doesn’t need explaining does it?
Leigh Sports Village is a very nice, modern stadium. You perhaps wouldn’t expect to find such facilities in an unkown town like Leigh – But if it’s good enough for The Queen, Chelsea FC, Blackburn Rovers FC, England Rugby League and Australian Rugby League teams… then it’s good enough for you and me! If you ever get the opportunity to watch an international match there, then please do visit.
If you need any help on how to reach Leigh Sports Village then don’t hesitate to ask me!
Here are a few photos of Blackburn Reserves matches at Leigh Sports Village –