A Fresh Start

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I’ve got off to a bad start this season, I’m offering no reasons or excuses, just laying on the line that I’ve not been as energetic or prolific on the writing front as I’d like to be.  Probably not as much as I should be given my supposed role round here, if a blogger doesn’t blog then I guess he’s just an er…  Much the same line can be held for Wigan Athletic, unless their aim is conceding soft goals, they’re nowhere near prolific, they’ve definitely missed some kind of energy, or confidence, and not even the gaffer is trying to say that what’s happened so far is acceptable.

Look, I’m not going to pretend that I’ve not said this before, and I’m definitely not making any promises about wheeling the same line out every week until things are, one way or another, done and dusted, but let’s start again, eh?  The season has hardly got off on the best foot for any of us and with the international break to cleanse the football palette, it’s probably as good a chance as we’ll get to hit the reset button and get back to enjoying our Saturday tea times.

I don’t think any of us have any real answers, a but a recurring theme in Bobby’s interviews is the negative mindset that’s beset the team.  Well it’s hit the fans too and with nearly a quarter of the season gone, it’s time to stamp it out.  I’m sure the players will hear the old cliche about forgetting what’s happened and concentrating on the next ninety minutes any number of times this week and that should be a message for all of us.

The fact that we’ve lost our last eight league games barely matters if we can win our next one.  The only points tally that matters is the one after thirty-eight games.  If that’s not enough?  well we’ll reconvene next August and start work on trying to get back into this god forsaken money pit, or start to enjoy our life as a mid-level Championship team, or look forward to our slide down the leagues.

If it is enough?  Well I’ll keep the flak jacket out of storage for another year, but I did notice that staying up for another year will mean that we’ve spent as much time in the top flight as we have in what is now League 2.  Go figure.

The point, in so much as there is one, is simply that there is nothing to fear about the future.  It’s all a case of been there, done that and worn the t-shirt.  As far as the fans are concerned, there’s not that much at stake, apart from our pride and there’s an ironic old saying about what follows if we place too much importance in that.

Remember that Little Wigan spirit?  I’m not daft enough to think we can get that back in it’s entirety, or that we should try – there’s nothing wrong with thinking big, but there are two key aspects of it that we need to get back if we’re going to get anywhere with our sanity intact, although they probably go hand in hand, so I’m not sure if I’ve got them in the right order.

“We’re little Wigan, we’re having a laugh”

You know what?  I still am.  I go to watch the game as much as the next man does but, as we’ve got older, that couple of hours in the East Stand every other has largely become the only time that me and my mates spend together.  i don’t go to Latics just for the craic, but it’s inevitable that it’s now become a social thing, instead of being the precursor to going out it’s now the going out.

On top of that, I’m now taking the kids to the game and, for many and obvious reasons, I want them to enjoy it too and I’m not going to let some weak football, miserable neighbours or aggressively anti-Marteeenez knobheads spoil it for them, or for me.

So I go to the game with the intent to laugh and joke with my mates, catch up on what’s happened since the last time I saw them, to watch a game of football and to get behind my team regardless of their failings.  It’s not for me how to tell you to support your team but I’ll let you into a secret.  I rarely have a bad Saturday afternoon, no matter the result or the performance.

Before we move on, I’ll tell you another story.  Last Saturday, a group of Latics fans went out with each other, in a large part for the first time.  Despite our currently sober position and a wide range range of views about why and what we need to do to get out of it, we all got on famously.  The reason?  Ok, the beer helped, but ultimately it was because we were out to have a good time, we debated the current situation but Garry Powell got as much air time as Franco di Santo and we tended to find common ground rather than conflict.

Unlike George Osborn, I really mean it when I say we’re all in this together, whatever our base views we surely all want Latics to win and we all want to enjoy our Saturday afternoon.  I think that last bit is within our control, just have a go, see what happens.

“We’re little Wigan, we don’t give a f…”

No fans, no atmosphere, no history, no point(s), no worry.  When it comes down to it, who gives a flyer what anyone else thinks about our club?  We are where we are and, until we get relegated (and not here any more), we’re here on merit.  Largely, I don’t think it matters where we are on the league ladder, we’ll always have people looking down their nose at us.  Our late arrival to the party and the topsy-turvy history of our previous non-elections meant that we were never particularly accepted in the early days, and even our return to the third division in 1996 was treated with a smidgeon of scorn and don’t forget that we were welcomed to the Championship with the same crap we get on a weekly basis nowadays.

And it’s not just outsiders.  As much as we can point to facts and statistics that show how much Wiganers are football fans, Wigan is institutionally a rugby town, it’s ingrained into the establishment and whether explicit or otherwise there is a long history of Latics, both club and community, being discriminated against.

But I ramble again, the point is that to be a Wigan Athletic fan is always to be an outsider in one way or another.  It is relatively easy to find people with good things to say about us, but you can hardly move without some pub Mourinho, internet whopper or next door neighbour waiting for us to fail.  Most of us have developed thick skins over the years, but the one thing that we’ve still to learn is to stick together.  Get more than three of us in the room and you’ll get an argument, put them on a messageboard and you’ll get a cyber war.

I’m not saying that we all need to agree, we don’t support Stepford Rovers, but it’s important that we present an united front, to other supporters, to the outside world in general.  WE are Wigan and no-one else and how we behave reflects more on the club that almost anything else.  If we can add those two things above together, if we can start to stand shoulder to shoulder and if we can look to the lighter side of life, then people will start to see us differently and our world will become a better place overnight.

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