So the Fixture computer played another of those strange quirks that only Wigan ever receives! For the start of Wigan’s 7th Season in the Barclays Premier League, Wigan starts their first 3 matches against Promoted teams. Apparently it’s the first time this has happened since football was invented in 1992.
Some could see it as potential relegation fodder, 9 points in 3 games and a good start, well if you are Man United; others could see it as tricky ties before the edges are smoothed off promoted teams whose morale will still be high.
Irrespective this could be a season we see Wigan build for a change, these 3 matches should allow them to do such a thing. So let’s just see who we’ll be playing in August & our previous encounters with them?
August 13th vs Norwich (Home)
We’ve only ever played Norwich in the league once, in 2003/04 season. If you remember this was the season Norwich were promoted from the Championship with 94 points & we missed out on the play off through that late goal @ the JJB against West Ham (Brian Deane 89th minute) to allow Crystal Palace to take 6th. There was some justice though as Palace beat West Ham in the Playoff final.
In the first match in October 2003 we drew 1-1 with Andy Liddell scoring first only to be pegged back by Iwan Roberts. Later that season, April 2004 @ Carrow Road Wigan were beaten 2-0 with goals from Mathias Svensson (yep me neither) & Darren Huckerby.
We have also played Norwich 3 times in the cup, yep you know what coming. A 2 legged Worthing Cup tie in September 1998 were we lost 4-2 on aggregate Griffiths and Barlow getting Wigan both goals in 2-3 defeat @ Springfield Park.
There was though 1 game a few will remember; it took place on the 31st January 1987 @ Springfield Park. The FA Cup 4th Round tie against a 1st Division Norwich, who would finish 5th that season. Wigan of course then a 3rd Division team, Paul Jewell getting the winner to send us to the heady 5th Round.
What the first match of the season will bring for Wigan is anybodies, we could continue Steve McQueen like and battle our way to an opening day win (yep I can’t remember too) or we could just turn up and get turned over like we did last season with Blackpool, who knows?
August 20th vs Swansea (Away)
We’ve actually played Swansea many times in the lower leagues; it is of course an interesting match for our Manager Bob Martinez who will return back to his previous club. So to the league, our first match with Swansea was way back in November 1984, a Division 3 clash, a 2-2 draw @ Vetch Field which saw Butler & Barrow score for Wigan. In that season, 1984/85 Wigan went on to finish 16th in the 3rd Division & Swansea 20th just missing out on relegation by a point.
In all we’ve played Swansea 18 times from 1984 through to 2001 when we last played them in Division 1 as it was then called. In those 18 we’ve beat them 9 times, drawn 2 & lost the remaining 7. Some notable wins in that time (someone will have to help me here I was in Madrid @ the time), was a 6-1 win in April 1991 with Worthington(2), Carberry, Griffiths(B), Daley & Jones(P). We’ve also been beat 3-0 @ the Vetch a couple of times in 1990 & 1992 (our wilderness years).
We’ve only ever met Swansea in a cup tie once, ironically enough last season and the irony continues, it was a 2-0 win over Championship Swansea, in October 2010. What Wigan fans will remember it for was the 1 & only goal from Mr Boselli.
August 27th vs QPR (Home)
In regards to QPR our 3rd opponents in August we have never played them in a Cup competition, only playing them 6 times in the league. 2 Seasons in Division 2, 2001/02 & 2002/03 and a season in the Championship in 2004/05.
Looking @ those 6 matches we haven’t done well against QPR, with just a single win, a 1-0 win in March 2003 with a Nathan Ellington winner. We’ve drawn with them 3 times last time in the Championship in April 2005. Do you remember 2005, when you were getting nervous with so many draws @ the season’s end? That day to a crowd of 12,007 saw a 0-0 draw against QPR & they moan about crowd sizes today!
Finally a couple of defeats, one in our promotion year in November 2004, one of only nine defeats in 46 games that season. The other coming in September 2001 when we lost 2-1 @ the JJB with Tony Dinning getting our goal that day. Matches have never been high scoring with QPR, with 2 goals only ever happening that once.
So the first 3 matches for Wigan, where will they take us through the summer month of August? No doubt the weather then will be fantastically hot, I’d be happy with 6 points, 9 would be even better, but that’s me just dreaming, just hope it doesn’t rain to much between now and the 54 days we have to wait* until kick off.
*- Of course Sky haven’t told us who’s on TV that weekend of the 13th August, so it could be more than 54 days, though I wouldn’t hold your breath it’ll probably be Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City who’s games are moved.
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