I’ve been a little distracted by other projects recently (of which you’ll be seeing more in the coming weeks) but I’ve had my head dragged out of my backside this week by an issue that’s creating an increasing noise across the Wigan Wide Web, the naming of stands at the JJ… erm DW Stadium.
I’d ignored the clamour following the announcement that the North Stand would take on the name of Wigan’s most famous Welshman, which looked, in the main, to be the standard negative stuff that pours forth anytime the two clubs are mentioned in the same breath or (woe betide) one of them appears to get an ounce of favouritism. But the criticism is now turning into something else and unusual for these parts, it both positive and constructive.
I’ll hand you over to the Landlord over at Ye Olde Tree and Crown
With news that the soon to be tenants of the DW Stadium, the Wigan Warriors, have been allowed to name a stand after one of their Welsh heroes, surely it is only right that the fans of Wigan Athletic, whose club will shortly be the owners of the stadium, see such a dedication to their past?
Unlike fans of the oval ball code though, the supporters of Wigan Athletic feel that it would be unfair to single out any one person and would instead like a stand named after their former home.
And so it starts, the campaign to reclaim a bit of our history and place it on the mantelpiece for all to see. Latics fans are keen to point out, though, that naming a stand after Springfield Park isn’t simply a nod to our club’s past, but to the town’s “proud sporting heritage” that some people are keen to force on us.
Our own ere_Wigan has written the following open (well it is now) letter to both Dave Whelan and Brenda Spencer:
Dear Mr Whelan,
We support the idea of the Billy Boston stand but also consider that it is befitting that the East stand is renamed to the SPRINGFIELD PARK stand because it links Wigan Athletic’s past with its future.
When it opened on 18 August 1897 Springfield Park represented various sports, it had a horse carting track around its perimeter and inside the ground a running track. The first event was an athletics festival arranged by the owners of the ground, Wigan Trotting and Athletic Company; the newly formed Wigan Athletic and Cycling Club arranged a meeting.
The first football match played on the ground was by Wigan County on 25th August 1897. Wigan Athletic held its first match at Springfield Park when they played Port Vale Reserves on 27th August 1932.
The name also dovetails well with the proposed Billy Boston stand as there are also some links between the two. In the 1901/1902 season Wigan Rugby League club played at Springfield Park before it moved to Central Park, during this time the club won the Lancashire Senior Competition Cup.
After leaving Wigan RLFC Billy Boston played for Blackpool Borough in the 1968 season; Blackpool Borough renamed to Springfield Borough played at Springfield Park in 1987. Also Billy Boston presented, fellow Welshman, Simon Howarth with his first international cap at Springfield Park.
Our new manager, Roberto Martinez and his newly formed backroom staff all played at Springfield Park so it is befitting there is a link between the old and new grounds to recognise their contribution to the club both now and in the future.
Finally many of our fans have fond memories of the old ground so by renaming the East Stand to the SPRINGFIELD PARK stand will be a very precious legacy for many people both in Wigan and around the world.
Whether you like the sound of this because of pride in your club or pride in your town, because you’re a sentimental old sod or you thing it’ll get the rugby lot’s backs up it’s hard to argue against the worth of this cause. And it’s not hard to get involved.
All you need to do is spread the word, tell your friends, join in one of the many message board threads on the subject, you can also join the campaign over at facebook:
And if you’ve got a minute you could consider signing our petition over at:
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/springy_stand/ (apologies to those who signed the original petition – it went a bit wrong)
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