Here we are again: Canaries, thousands of them!
So we’ve all read what the pundits think and 90% of them think we are going down. So what’s new? Maybe if they say it enough times it will happen. Even a broken Collymore is right twice a day, or so the saying goes.
Or maybe they are right and it is nobody but a section of our fans either out of passion or entitlement honestly believes we should be higher up the table, blinded by loyalty or views not in sync with the financial keeping of the club or some unequivocal belief that we will be rewarded for years of struggling with a golden year where it all clicks together
Maybe we will always be scrapping around the ropey end of the table because we are a small club with a low fanbase and ever weakening financial power? There’s a section of our support which doesn’t like to hear this and constantly tell Whelan to ‘get some money spent’. On what though? And for what kind of return? He may come across as a cuddly, publicity hungry meglomaniac at times but seriously, if he has as he claims put £100m in and he’s worth £190m well how much do you people expect to put in? Would you do the same?
And of course the future without Whelan is ever more uncertain. From Pompey to Birmingham to Leeds to Plymouth there are dodgy owners and quite what the Venky’s game is up at Blackburn God only knows.
As fans, we like to make comparisons to teams further up the table such as Bolton, Fulham and Stoke, look at the players they are signing and what they are achieving on similar resources and demanding to be there. But Stoke have over 20,000 season ticket holders, they sold 40,000 shirts last season (and you can add that multiplier across their merchandising operation). Craven Cottage is packed to the rafters week in, week out, and their ticket deals seem to involve knocking the price down to £20 for a one off game. They are also riddled with debt, as are Bolton – nearly £100m, and Bolton again have an average a good 8,000 more than ours.
It’s uncomfortable reading but in truth these clubs are twice the size of us as a bare minimum and competing with them is some achievement, let alone the billionaires further up football’s food chain.
Forget the tv money, that goes on players’ wages, we are a small club playing in a big league and our very existence here is a minor miracle. As we approach our 80th year as a club, let’s remember for 46 of those we were a non league club, many of those years playing in the Cheshire League and the Lancashire Combination and we have achieved what we never dreamed possible.
There are small armies of people who want our football club to go back there, we are the t*rd that will not flush in their eyes. From TV pundits, to message board net nerds, to thousands of rugby and football fans in our town for God’s sake. What chance we can fight them on a united front by simply sticking together and adopting a siege mentality.
There’s nobody banged on about fan culture more than me and I know I’m banging my head against the wall with 75% plus of our support, that much is evident when we get 5k on for a pre season friendly or a cup game. (I’m talking generically here so please don’t moan back to me, I know some fans work/have holidays/live in exile)
Wigan Athletic are a Premier League club, the Premier League bit is great but the more important bit is the football club bit. That’s what defines us and the sooner every fan inside that stadium gets that wholly and completely we’ll be half way there. For some fans, the Premier League is all that matters, whereas Wigan Athletic are what matters, those who know and care, can change this mentality over time, even if it means trying to get those giddy, excitable young ones to listen for more than a nanosecond. They need to know where we’ve come from, the struggles we’ve had, the adversity we’ve faced in a town where they actively tried to get rid of us, and understand where we are at the minute is an achievement absolutely in the realms of fantasy 15 or 20 years ago.
However many people turn up isn’t important, there are still a lot of people who’s beating heart bleeds Wigan Athletic and it’s up to us all to take responsibility and make a difference by sticking together and sticking two fingers up at those haters out there. We know how last season finished and the fans played an amazing part in it, we need to maintain and build on that by showing that level of passion in every game and continuing to prove people wrong.
Look around you this afternoon and consider that bond you have with your fellow fans. We can build something special here if we unite against the adversity we face. Roberto Martinez understands it and so does the CEO Jonathan Jackson, they want the fans to be a bigger part of the club than ever before. What chance, we, the fans can stick together and pull together in the same direction.
We had a wonderful summer event enjoyed by everyone present with both of the above fully engaged and involved with what we were trying to do, the culmination of a year’s fund raising for the Ramsdale family, yet 80 tickets went unsold. It hurt a little bit that, I know in my heart that is Owen Coyle or Mike Maguire would have turned up to a Bolton or Warriors event it would have sold out, but as ever we concentrate on what we’ve got and what we’ve achieved and look to do it better next time. It’s easier to be a good fan when times are easy, but times are tough, on and off the pitch and in the economy and in the country as a whole.
We still have work to do developing that community spirit and uniting the fan culture with the football club. It’s not all about the football, it’s about building sustainability and a co-operative spirit between those of us who are lucky enough to support the club at this time and want to do so for many, many years into the future: Latics United.
Take that West Ham and Stoke attitude into every game and we can do this. We’re not going to win every game and there will be decisions made by manager and players which do not meet everyone’s approval but instead of moaning, why not try supporting them, giving them a chance. Yes players like Gomez and Di Santo frustrate the life out of many of you, but if you’re one of those who openly boos or criticises them at the games, please stop. They’re wearing the shirt of that team you claim to love, save your moaning for the pub afterwards.
Save your anger for the opposition and if need be, the ref, we are Wigan and they aren’t. Let’s make our ground hostile, whether it’s full or not. Let’s make it a special atmosphere that those missing and watching in the pubs or on the internet can see and hear and suddenly want to be a part of again. Let’s remember with every kick of that ball, every second of the game that there are too many people to mention who want us to fail. Show solidarity towards Wigan Athletic and let’s see where it leads us. The players will respond, we know that from the games where we’ve turned up loud, proud and strong. It might be a coincidence but even if they don’t win every game, you can walk away proud that you did your bit and you can’t win them all.
The fightback starts today, Norwich want a party but let’s have one of our own. Let’s make it our day, why can’t we, as fans show the passion we did at the end of last season? What harm will it do? You might just enjoy it. Whether you sing, cheer or mutter quiet approval, just do that little bit more this year and let’s see where it can take us.
Tally ho campers.
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