I’m a bit dubious about what to write here, mainly because I’m of a nervous disposition. In life generally but especially when it comes to all matters Wigan Athletic. As football fans, we invest such a large part of our lives in our football club and the full range of emotions is never far away.
We’ve been lucky to have been repeatedly jumping with glee on many occasions during the last two games. When you see the players reacting in exactly the same way, then you know that we’re part of something truly special this year. Yet in that time honoured fashion, I feel duty bound to say – we haven’t won nothing yet!!
When we’ve had our blips, it has hurt me to the core. Even though I expected us to lose at Portsmouth, due to the circumstances of Paul Cook’s return, it still hurt to see us lose and my mind started whirring as to all the negative permutations. Briefly back in 3rd place and staring down the barrel at those ill-fated play offs.
I feel such a strong emotional investment this time, mainly due to the way the players and the whole squad conducts itself: you can tell that they care, which hasn’t always been the case at Wigan Athletic. The manager himself is a warm and engaging character who oozes passion and, like the rest of us, appears to be kicking every single ball in our collective desire to get promoted.
It’s getting close now, with the games coming thick and fast. So close that I am loathe to make predictions for fear of appearing overly confident, overly pessimistic or indeed wanting to jinx the team. The nervous disposition in me walked on to the games against MK Dons and Rochdale thinking “today could be the day we slip up”, only for me to exit a couple of hours later with a daft grin on my face.
I’ve always maintained that Wigan Athletic fans have had far more than our fair share of success over the years, it’s been almost continual, apart from a couple of dreadful periods under Mackay and Joyce.
Yet, this is not about the fans: it’s about Paul Cook, his backroom team and that squad of players, who have, to a man, been absolutely superb throughout most of the season. Even those few players who some fans like to have a gripe about. Some people always need a scapegoat to vent their spleen upon, though their task is getting more difficult by the week.
As it stands, six more performances like the last two and nothing can stand in our way, though there may be further twists and turns yet. Obviously as a fan, I want us to steam to the title but not for my own selfish pleasure however, oh no! But because they deserve to be crowned the best team in this division.
Blackburn have played some mind games, their fans have tried adopting the victim mentality – one blog said that we had benefitted from them being in the same division with them being a “big scalp”. We now know this to be nonsense: after watching them try and bully us at Ewood Park and blame a very lenient ref (in their favour) for their shortcomings, that it is in fact the opposite – they’ve used their status to their advantage.
We now know that the only reason they were top of the league at all is because they had played so many more games than us due to our spectacular cup run, which again points to what a brilliant team we have. I bear no malice to Shrewsbury, even though they also tried to kick us off the park on Boxing Day – there’s clearly a lot more to them than that and I’d love them to get promoted (so long as we do first!).
Full credit to both of them and ourselves as we’re all having to do it the hard way. We’re only one point off our title winning haul of two years ago with six games to play, so technically all three of us deserve promotion. We can’t show too much sympathy though as it’s every man for himself in these remaining few weeks. Or rather every team for itself.
As for our team, well, just keep doing what you’re doing lads and you’ll do for me!!
Article first published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 13th April 2018