A few words for the record

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I was going to let it lie but I feel the need to say my piece. Last night, social media was an angry place. I get it, our record is appalling and whereas I have never been one to scream for a manager’s head, it is beyond any rationale that Paul Cook still has a job.

My opinion: I tend to think that yesterday was not too bad a performance, indeed our performances in general have been OK throughout this month and last. But the cold, hard facts are that we have lost too many games this season and don’t have enough left to find enough wins unless we have a dramatic change in fortunes, or a change in manager. My opinion. Indeed all of this article is.

Unfortunately a section of the fans, fed up with hurling online abuse about Cook, the CEO, the Chairman and the local Sports reporter have now started to aim their abuse at the club’s fanzine editor, along with all sorts of insinuations and allegations that I am on the club’s payroll, that I have “vested interests” and of course the brilliant suggestion that I haven’t actually been watching us very long at all, that I wasn’t there during the “dark days” despite penning my first fanzine contribution over 30 years ago.

I should give these people short shrift for such pathetic behaviour, but silence is an admission of guilt in their eyes so here goes.

I’m not going to deny any of the above, because I shouldn’t have to. Quite frankly they are complete lies and anyone who knows me knows they are, and I value their opinion far more than mainly anonymous Twitter antagonisers.

I’m going to use the royal “we” here to speak for a few people who contribute to the stuff I produce, I’m sure they’ll let me know if I misrepresent them.

Some of these lads (and the odd lass) have been along the ‘give him more time because we’re playing alright’ and others have been wanting rid of the manager for some time and been critical all along. We’re grown ups who can have a discussion without falling out. Indeed, me and Mudhutter co-editor Migs have vastly different opinions, he gets angry, I just shrug my shoulders but we can still get on. Actually, we hate each other’s guts, but that’s nothing to do with the managerial status of Paul Cook.

We (fanzine, podcast, general mates) give up lots of our own free time to do what we do, it’s our choice and we’ve been at it for quite a while. Some of our fans like it, others don’t. For some reason, we seem to get as many plaudits from football fans of other clubs than our own. I don’t know whether this means we are doing something right or doing something wrong. Well, I’ll let you decide.

We’re not everyone’s cup of tea, nor do we pretend to be. I’ve learnt by now that alternative “unofficial” forms of media only ever attract 10-20% of our fanbase, indeed that might be the case everywhere.

Again, it’s my choice but I have given large parts of my life to watching Wigan Athletic, writing and talking about Wigan Athletic and arranging charity and social events. I don’t want thanks or recognition, it is a good laugh most of the time.

Now, let me change subject. Darren Royle did a three part interview with the club this week which attracted a whole host of abuse aimed at Paul Kendrick, the Wigan Today Latics reporter. I’m not here to defend Paul, he can look after himself (although I suspect it is now getting to him and his family, as it does when people are tagging your employer in suggesting you should lose your job or that he won’t criticise the club because he has a mortgage to pay)

It’s no secret that I have arranged two charity walks for Paul’s charity, Joseph’s Goal which have raised £72,000. The organising of it is arguably harder than the walk, but it is something that I am immensely proud of, even if it only makes a difference to one child’s life, now or in future.

Again, one individual stated last night that he wouldn’t do the walk because of Paul’s stance. It’s a shame but if people decide to get personal, all you can do is hold your head up and be the better person.

Anyway, back to “my position”. There is a suggestion that I won’t support any kind of protest or action towards the club because I have vested interests. That is not true. Below is the reason why I won’t do it:

Firstly, Paul Cook and Jonathan Jackson are employed by the board, of whom the only visible member is Darren Royle. Darren Royle is employed by IEC, who we know very little about. However, if IEC wanted to sack the lot of them now, I’m fairly sure they could do.

In which case, let’s “sack the board” shall we. We can’t. We can’t because they are funding the club somewhere between £500k to £1m per month. If they walk away, who pays that? Nobody, and we turn into Bolton, or more probably Bury.

Given a choice between relegation and extinction and I know which I choose.

Both myself and Migs have expressed concern about IEC’s motives in the past, a Hong Kong / Caymen Island background doesn’t all point to everything being (and I’ll choose my words carefully here) straightforward.

But in the absence of anyone else coming forward to put money in, we really do have little choice than to take the money, or the football club dies.

It will cease to exist. That is your crisis, not a continued run of bad results for which the manager has inexplicably not been sacked as we hurtle back towards League One with our owners seeming motionless.

I know these things aren’t completely unconnected and I do understand the need to feel like we as fans should do something, anything to protect ourselves against a financial crisis, which could be prompted by a drop in income following relegation.

The problem I have is that, along with various others, I have over the last 15 years tried three times to get some kind of fans’ association or trust off the ground so that the fans’ can genuinely look to hold the stewardship of the club to account.

Each time it has been met with dog’s abuse and accusations that I (we) are trouble makers. “if you don’t want to stick around for the tough times, go and watch Bury” was one of my favourites, the point being missed in spectacular fashion. (they were having a good season tbf)

And also one gentleman, under Mackay told me to “f*** off and watch Burnley”, a few weeks later he was calling for Mackay’s head himself. Not because he was a bad man, but because he was a bad manager. Ho hum.

So there won’t be a fourth attempt. I haven’t got the time or energy to do it, there will be no protest from me, certainly about the manager situation. If the ownership of the club did turn into a Bolton or Blackpool situation, I would have plenty to say and get involved but I have enough on my plate with a full time job, a family with two kids, and yes, a fanzine a podcast and a charity walk to organise.

I’m not stopping anyone else though. You want to protest, mobilise, be vocal against the club then feel free.

There seems to be endless concerns from people who are lifelong fans saying not only are they considering packing in but they are worried that many others are too. I’m worried too but no more worried than I have been at any previous time as we have never had the crowds we deserved. Plus we have already been through this cycle twice before in recent years.

“I’m not coming again” is a Wigan art form but may I humbly suggest that if you’re worried about other fans not coming again, then saying that you’re not coming again isn’t exactly setting a good example.

I’ve had stick in the past both for being too critical of the club and also not being critical enough of the club, but either way, it’s not my job to do this. I have a job and several football related hobbies. That doesn’t mean I meekly accept it, I just haven’t got the energy to deal with the abuse and questioning of motives I have had in the past when I HAVE done something and now I’m getting more abuse because I’m NOT doing something.

I go to the game to watch the club I love and have followed for 35 years, have a beer and a catch up with mates. I’m not the best fan in the world and nor would I want to be, I’d rather be a good father and husband these days thank you.

And that’s it. I am sure the above words will be twisted and used against me by the angry men of the internet, indeed I will probably be accused of being “angry” myself.

But I’m not, I just don’t like being lied about, so I am choosing to set the record straight.

I don’t like the club very much at the minute, and like you, it is all driven by poor results. But football is not the most important thing is my life. Watching the game and writing and talking about it, either formally or informally is a laugh, and there’s some serious Gallows humour doing the rounds between me and my mates right now.

Despite a love and association (as a fan, fanzine editor, writer NOT a paid employee before you start) with Wigan Athletic for most of my life, I just don’t get as upset as other people. I’m sure those ranting and raving will dismiss this as lack of passion, that they care more and that is why they are angry.

The club has given me enough success for my lifetime many times over, and stuff that I couldn’t have dreamed of when young Jimmy first climbed over the fence by the Astroturf in 1985. Of course I’m not happy with where we are but what can I do about it?

I can’t sack Paul Cook, and neither can you. Only our owners can. The days of “sack the board” are unheard of now that you need a few hundred million quid to replace this.

We at Mudhuts are still up for a pitchfork waving protest, indeed in the right circumstances, we’d be prepared to arrange it but in the above words, I hope I have explained exactly why I won’t be.

I’ll get abuse if I do and I’ll get abuse if I don’t from my fellow fans, so why would I waste the effort.

I’d rather chill out and spend my spare time with my family or do something more productive.

I (we) will continue producing fanzines, podcasts, events etc for as long as the demand is there and we and (some) other fans enjoy what we do.

If you don’t, that’s fine, it’s not mandatory. Like I say, we do it for a laugh. I’m thick skinned enough to take criticism but when outright lies and allegations are being aimed at me (us), I reserve the right to explain myself.

And with that I’m done, do your worst. Bring on yet more snide comments and people questioning my motives.

By all means, go out and moan, contrary to popular belief, nobody’s stopping you. But personal abuse? Well, any chance you can grow up a bit and pack it in, it solves nothing.

I only have one thing to ask with this article if you have made it this far: Can we just try being a bit nicer to each other please? It’s getting ridiculous. We have enough enemies out there without turning on each other

Much love xx
Jimmy

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