Obscure moments from my youth part 546. An FA Cup tie at home to Carlisle United in 1989. The travelling Cumbrian support could perhaps best be described as being a touch excitable, only for them yet again to have their bubble burst by the mighty Wigan Athletic.
At 2-0 down and with their day completely deflated, they struck up a chant which has stuck with me to current day. Probably ripped off but it was the first time I had heard it, and to the tune of one of John Lennon’s post-Beatle works, it simply went “All we are saying, is give us a goal!”It’s probably just as well that Wigan Athletic fans haven’t adopted it, as this season in particular we could have found ourselves singing it 22 times. Therein lies the problem. To use another, more contemporary chant – that’s why we’re going down.
At the start of the season, most football fans have the tendency to peer all the way over to the last game of the season and start speculating. Who could forget two years ago when we drew Brentford away? “Ooh what a great place to celebrate promotion!” That worked out well didn’t it?
Sometimes it does, as per Blackpool last season. Yet moving to current day and Leeds at home looked like a particularly feisty fixture right up until a few weeks back. Now it’s something of a damp squib, with the forthcoming Joseph’s Goal charity game at Ashton Town in two weeks attracting considerably more excitement. As a mate of mine, perhaps harshly said, “it’ll be nice to watch some players we actually like for a change”.
Back to the damp squib, which is not to be confused with a damp squid. For one, living in the water as it does, how would a squid be anything other than damp? Secondly, a squib is actually a kind of firework. Now I suppose we have seen some kind of fireworks at the DW in the last few weeks, Nick Powell playing the role of Guido Fawkes – with the fetching beard to match. Yet across the course of the season, there hasn’t even been a squib on the field most weeks. Even a squid which rapidly got extinguished might have generated a round of applause.
So come on lads, give us a goal on Sunday at least. Occasionally, you do get these daft-as-a-brush end of season games where both teams cast aside any negative shackles and just go full on gung ho. A team that’s been so shot shy they’ve spent large parts of the season giving each other “don’t you pass that white thing to me” style glares aren’t going to turn into the footballing equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters overnight but it might just put a tiny bit of cheer into a truly grotty season.
I’ve been told off in the past for claiming to be some kind of voice of the fans, and it seems that if you have two Wigan Athletic fans in a room, then you’ve got an argument. Yet I think I’m on safe ground speaking for the majority when I say if they go out and have a go and come off second best, the fans will appreciate it.
So let’s treat Sunday as an early audition for next year as the new Wigan Athletic enter a new chapter, in a new division. It will tell us exactly how big of a job any new manager has got and give us hope and confidence for the future.
First published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man Column Friday 5th May 2017
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