Spyin' Kop: Wigan Ath v Liverpool - 29th Sept 2007

Posted by NickoH on September 25, 2007, 12:06:57 PM

Next league game up is an away trip to the JJB Stadium, which, since Latics came into the top flight for the first time a couple of seasons ago, has been a happy hunting ground for the reds.
A Sami Hyypia goal two seasons ago gave us a 1-0 victory at a freezing JJB, whilst last season we gained our first away win of the season (4-0), mainly thanks to blowing Wigan away with a performance of pace and power in the  first half.
Both teams have had a little dip in results lately, after a strong start from both, so a win for both teams is vital for differing reasons.
Wigan have a full week to prepare after their last round exit to mighty Hull in the Carling Cup, whilst the reds take on Reading in the same competition.

Wigan Athletic v Liverpool
Barclays Premier League
Saturday 29th September 2007
Kick off: 3.00pm

Wigan Athletic Football Club
JJB Stadium
Loire Drive
Robin Park
WN5 0UH.

Directors –
Chairman:      David Whelan
Vice Chairman:      Phillip Williams
Chief Executive:                   Brenda Spencer
Directors:                      Brian Ashcroft
         John Winstanley
         Maurice Lindsay

Club Officials –
Manager:                      Chris Hutchings
Asst Manager:      Frank Barlow
General Manager:                   John Benson
Reserve Team Coach:   Mark Seagraves
Chief Scout:      David Hamilton
Youth Team Manager:   David Lowe
Goalkeeping Coach:                   Gary Walsh
Head of Physio:      Alan Tomlinson
First Team Fitness Coach:   Joey Gallanagh
Physios:         Alex Cribley
         Neil Fizthenry

History :
Wigan Athletic were formed in 1932 after many failed attempts to have a ‘town’ football club.  Wigan County, Wigan United and Wigan Town had all fell by the wayside and Wigan Athletic were formed after the demise of the 4th attempt at a town team, Wigan Borough.
Wigan Borough were forced to resign from the old 3rd Division North in 1931 when the directors sent the club into voluntary liquidation.
A meeting was called at the Queen’s Hall, led by the then Major of Wigan and a committee was elected that led to the formation of Wigan Athletic.  Springfield Park (the ground prior to the JJB) was then purchased by the club for the sum of £2,850 and the club gained election to the Cheshire League.

Besides collecting their 2nd Cheshire League Championship in season 1934/35, Wigan were known as mainly a cup side in their early years and it was in this same season that saw Wigan beat Carlisle Utd 6-1 in the first round of the FA Cup. This scoreline still stands today as the biggest victory by a non-league side over a league side.

After the war, Wigan moved to a different league , the Lancashire Combination, and continued to knock on the league’s door, just missing out on election in 1950 (to Scunthorpe).
1953-54 is still remembered by the veterans as one of their most successful seasons, winning the league, Lancs Junior cup and the Lancs Combination cup, and also having a run in the FA Cup.
A 2nd round victory over Hereford was watched by a record 27,526 (and still a record), as the largest attendance between two non-league sides excluding Wembley/Cardiff finals. A loss in the next round to the then mighty Newcastle (after a replay) still couldn’t open the door to league status.

In 1968 Wigan become founder members of the Northern Premier League and were finally elected into the football league in 1978 at the expense of Southport. Wigan finished 6th in that first season and gained promotion two years later under the leadership of Larry Lloyd.

In 1985 Wigan won their first silverware as a league club, by winning the Freight Rover trophy at Wembley against Brentford.

In 1995 local businessman Dave Whelan bought the club and immediately promised to guide Latics to the Premiership.
John Deehan’s Wigan won the Third Division in 1997 and after a series of managers (Ray Matthias, John Benson, Bruce Rioch, Steve Bruce) and losing play-off finals eventually led to the appointment of Paul Jewell in 2001.
Jewell’s Wigan won Division Two Championship in 2002/03 with 100 points, followed by a 7th place finish in the First Division the season after.

2004/05 was the season Whelan’s promise came true and Latics got promoted to the top tier for the first time by finishing 2nd behind Sunderland.
A brilliant 1st season finished with a 10th place and also a losing Carling Cup final at Cardiff against Man Utd and they had the privilege (or not) to have been involved in the last game at Highbury.

The next season was a case of 2nd Season blues for the Latics, when an inspired Emile Heskey helped to keep Latics up by the skin of their teeth in the last day drama at Sheffield Utd. The day after Paul Jewell resigned, citing pressure of work, with Latics promoting his assistant Chris Hutchings.

Honours :
Football League Championship       Runners-up 2005
Football League Second Division       Champions 2003
Football League Third Division       Champions 1997
Football League Fourth Division       Promoted 1982
Football League Trophy          Winners 1985, 1999
Northern Premier League          Champions 1971, 1975
Northern Premier Cup          Winners 1972
Northern Premier Shield          Winners 1973, 1974, 1976
Lancashire Combination          Champions 1948, 1951, 1953, 1954
Cheshire League             Champions 1934, 1935, 1936, 1965
FA Cup                Best performance: 6th Round 1987
Football League Cup          Runners-up 2006
Elected to Football League       1978

Records :
Record League victory,          7-1 vs. Scarborough, 11 March 1997
Record League defeat,          0-6 vs. Bristol Rovers, 3 March 1990
Highest attendance,          25,023 vs. Liverpool, 11 February 2006
Most League appearances,       317, Kevin Langley 1981-1994
Most League goals scored (total),       70, Andy Liddell 1998-2003
Most goals scored in a season,       31, Graeme Jones 1996/1997
Record Cup Run,          Carling Cup Final vs Manchester United, 2006
Record Transfer Fee Paid,         Emile Heskey £5.5m, from Birmingham, July 2006

So over a few beers in a local boozer I got round to some questions with three Latics season ticket holders – Wiggy, Johnno and Dave.

1.So your season has started well after the drama of the end of last season.

Wiggy – Yeah, we have played some good stuff up to now, not just knocking it up quick to Heskey like the trap we fell into last season.
Johnno – And for a very short period of time we actually went top.
Dave – It was a good excuse for a piss up. It was probably equivalent to you lads winning the Champions League (laughs out loud). We’ve been top one time (sings to 5 times tune)……
Johnno – But we were shite against Fulham at home last week, really bad and lucky to get a point but should have got more at Reading on Saturday than a narrow defeat.

2. Paul Jewell leaving- how did you feel ?

Wiggy – At the time I was quite devastated but after the dust settled and we made a couple of good signings and a good start, my confidence has risen a touch but our results over the last few games gives me cause for worry.
Johnno – I’ll judge how much we’ve missed him in May. If we stay up comfortably it will be Paul Who, without forgetting what he did for us, but if the worse comes to worse we’ll look back and regret the position the club allowed Jewell to get himself into.
Dave – I really liked Paul Jewell and was upset when he left. He, along with the chairman Dave Whelan, have taken us to places we never would have dreamt of when we was at the old ground.

3. Chris Hutchings – the man to fill Jewell’s boots ?

Wiggy – Like I said the good start has turned my thinking slightly. I think the quality of teams (or lack of) that have come up should, and I say should with fingers crossed, help us to stay up without any of the drama of last season.
Johnno – I’ll be honest and say even though we should survive comfortably, I don’t think Chris Hutchings is the man in the long run.
Dave – I think it is too early to judge but my initial feeling was one of ‘oh no’. I thought Whelan could have attracted a bigger name to then try and attract bigger name players. You either move forward quickly in the Premiership or soon get left behind.

4. Best player ?

Wiggy – I would have said Chris Kirkland if he could stay bloody fit for a good spell, so I’ll plump for Emile Heskey.  I was pleased for him over his recent England call up which in my opinion he fully deserved. His injury last week is a big blow for both him and the club.
Johnno – Denny Landzaat has impressed since his move from Holland and is a hard working honest lad.
Dave – Defo Paul Scharner. Strong and good in the air and can play in a few different places. Dangerous at set pieces.

5. Who do think is our best player ?

Wiggy – Gerrard is the obvious one but Mascherano has looked class when he’s played.
Johnno – Again Gerrard but I rate Reina highly and I’m always impressed with Kuyt’s work rate.
Dave – Pennant has impressed lately, besides his silly sending off and Torres will be a cracking signing, if he gets enough games.
Wiggy – But I wouldn’t like to guess the team you’ll put out against us.

6. Is Wigan still a Rugby town ?

Dave starts to sing ‘Wigan’s turning blue and there’s nothing you can do.’
Wiggy – I think we’ve come along way since the old 2,000 attendances at Springfield Park but I would have a guess our current support would soon disappear if we dropped out the Prem.
Dave – I would go as far to say that the novelty value of being in the Prem has worn out and it is only Whelan’s aggressive pricing reductions that have kept the attendances as high as they are.
Johnno – Top line rugby has been in the town for donkeys, whereas the football is quite new to all this, so yes Wigan is turning blue.

7. So what happened with the crowd of only 5,440 for the Carling Cup home defeat by the mighty Hull ?

Wiggy – We’ve been to that final, so we thought we would concentrate on our push towards Champions League football (he says tongue in cheek and laughs out loud).
Dave – I mean Hull….even with ticket pricing slashed, they’re not going to tempt anyone to go on a Tuesday night.
Johnno – and it was crap.

8. We are to move to our new ground in the next few years. You’ve already done it – any advice you have for us ?

Wiggy – Your not moving far, so your match day routine would probably stay the same.
Johnno – I mean Anfield is not exactly falling down. You should have seen Springfield Park in our last seasons.
Dave – If we hadn’t moved I think we would still be shuffling in the lower divisions.
Johnno – You need to embrace the idea of moving. You have no choice if you want to keep watching Liverpool, so why not treasure your memories and try and make the new Anfield another fortress.

9. Best traveling support to the JJB ?

Dave – You lads were tremendous in the league game last season.
Wiggy – Yeah because they had the game won early on and they were all pissed (haha).
Johnno – Newcastle always bring a decent, noisy crew. Anybody but Bolton I would say.

10. How would you define success this season ?

Dave – Staying up again but hopefully without touching cloth like last season.
Wiggy – Staying up and a little run in the FA Cup.
Johnno – Staying up.

11. How long can this 'dream' continue ?

Dave – Not being negative but if we drop out of the Prem, we could become a yo-yo club.
Wiggy – I have a feeling that we did the hardest part by avoiding the drop last year. Not saying it is going to get any easier but if we went down then it would have had a knock on effect like trying to attract players, etc…..
Johnno – It’s a funny old game (in his worst Wigan Jimmy Greaves accent) and I just hope we can now establish ourselves for a few seasons.

12. Can Bent fill Heskey’s boots ?

Dave – No
Wiggy – No, even though he notched on Saturday, I just don’t rate him very highly.
Johnno – No, he’s shit.

13. Thoughts for the match

Dave – A goal would be great but I think the pressure is on Liverpool to come and win the game.
Wiggy – I’d shake hands on a draw now.
Johnno – We have to beat one of the big boys one day, so why not you lads.
Nicko – Can’t you wait for Man U ?

14. Favourite memory of a previous encounter

Johnno – Going 1-0 up at Anfield in the League Cup in ’89, before you went on and dicked us.
Wiggy – Probably the same. We’ve not had much to shout about since coming into the Prem, when we’ve played you lads.
Dave – Remember it well…..our home game got moved to Anfield, so both were played at your ground. Like Wig’s says really.

15. Finally and most importantly…..best pies in Wigan.

Dave – Hahahaha…..defo Pooles.
Johnno – Bollocks, Greenhalghs.
Wiggy – Pooles.

And I leave them to debate the qualities of the local pies…….

A good set of lads who go week in and week out, and have been prior to the Premiership days.
They have no illusions about how tough the Premiership is and they have their hopes and dreams like us all.
I get the feeling they are still pinching themselves that they are hosting clubs like ourselves and they are visiting grounds like Anfield and Old Trafford, instead of going to places like Grimsby.
Might be worth a couple of quid on Bent for first goalscorer after their comments about him  ;)

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