I think it’s fair to say that everything is going well at Wigan Athletic right now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t cast our eye back over years gone by when some real dross wore the famous blue and white. So it came to pass that we launched a new feature on the Pie At Night podcast recently, loosely entitled The Latics Emporium of Sh**e designed to list an A to Z of Wigan Athletic players, who it’s fair to say didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory.
We kicked things off with the first name that came into my head when starting it. Whether it was the double A that did it, the first name that hit me was the Spanish colossal centre half, ANTONIO AMAYA. A giant of a man, with the heart of a tadpole. Signed by Roberto Martinez – a Spanish manager signing a Spanish centre back, what could possibly go wrong? To be fair, he signed Ivan Ramis who was a blinder, if his hips hadn’t been made of sawdust.
Amaya played a handful of times, mainly in cup games, an infamous 4-1 drubbing at Blackpool where James McCarthy made his full debut and memorably in two cup games against Notts County where drunken moron Lee Hughes literally murdered him every time the ball came in his vicinity. To be fair to Antonio, he could win a header and was decent at corners – attacking and defensive – but fell to pieces whenever a nippy forward came near him. Which is a bit of an issue when you’re a defender. He is still playing back in La Liga for someone where he’s no doubt considered to be a hard man after his sojourn in the UK.
Despite this compelling argument, my nomination got short shrift from the panel who immediately threw one JULIUS AGHAHOWA into the mix with two votes. Signed by Paul Jewell from Shaktar Donetsk, and apparently a Championship Manager legend, big things were expected from this free scoring Nigerian with a spectacular backflip celebration. Unfortunately, he ended up becoming the only professional footballer to perform a triple somersault after an own goal up at Sunderland. Friendlies aside, he never hit the net again and managed to miss a chance against Liverpool that a hibernating tortoise could have nodded in. Absolutely hapless and surely a deal which needs a closer look taking at from a “George Weah’s cousin” perspective (no not that one) in this day and age.
The next contender involved the curious case of burly Pole DARIUS ADAMCYZK who came with a decent pedigree but never looked quite at home wearing the stripes and soon skulked off when a better offer came along. It was early on in the Jewell days and with the benefit of hindsight it maybe wasn’t the best idea to invite a full strength Everton team over to play us in our last pre-season friendly and they promptly humped us 6-1 despite big Darius’ moonface filling approximately 60% of the pitch.
Ian also controversially threw ANDY AINSCOW into the mix. As was abruptly pointed out – two broken legs limited his ability to shine whilst playing for his local team slightly and what could have been a promising career never materialised and he ended up managing Whelley. I for one will never forget him scoring a late winner again Donny and the excitable commentary of Dave “Swanny” Swanton’s on the club’s 1987 end of season video as he squealed “Hoh! Andy Ainscow! On his debut!”
As we’ve mentioned a knob ender, we moved to what Alan thought was a sure fire winner in the rotund form of LEE ASHCROFT. The fat, feckless overpaid waster was one of a number of players who saw Wigan Athletic as a generous meal ticket and boy could he put it away (food not goals that is, unfortunately) This was backed up by a scurrilous story about him dodging a game to go out with his mates, although with hindsight it definitely referred to some other Lee Ashcroft from Preston, our lawyers have instructed us to state.
And our final A star entrant to the hall of shame was STEPHEN APPLETON, whom similar to Ainscow came through the ranks; though in his case once he got in the first team left us asking how on earth he managed to do so. Again, it felt a tad harsh to throw him in given the club’s perennial skintness back then, even though he was evidently hopeless and presumably the only tips he’d picked up from John Butler were racehorses and dogs.
Following the conclusion of this review, we decided to put it out to a poll and the Latics Twitterati voted resoundingly for Julius Aghahowa (complete with rogue H) who received 63% of the vote. Of course, it’s very likely that quite a large proportion of our fans never saw Stephen Appleton “performing” at right back and Lee Ashcroft was a bad ‘un more due to his attitude than his actual ability. Yet nevertheless, Julius Aghahowa clearly holds a strong place in the hearts of many a Wigan Athletic fan for being absolutely terrible and for that reason, he has to go in *pulls lever*.
We’ll be back soon with the next round and in the meantime, if you want to listen to the full discussion then it’s all available on the Pie At Night podcast which you can get hold of below.