Like so many of our recent games, this one is being billed as the biggest one in the club’s history. Promotion to the Premier League means that much for some people. There remains a sneaky feeling that there might be at least two more ‘biggest games’ yet to come. Whatever the reality it’s certainly a pivotal game, there’s a wall in front of us and on one side there’s more new ground to mark our mark on, on the other it’s a battle to prevent us gaining a ‘the new Wolves’ label. If there’s a man, woman or child out there who doesn’t want to be on the first side, then they should report forthwith to Maurice Lindsay and hand in all their Latics badges.
There’s so much at stake on this game, the pride and expectations of the fans, the reputation and livelihood of the players, our manager and the chairman’s honour and cash. To suggest that anyone doesn’t want this would be a farce. Yet, there have been sneaky comments, spoken either in desperation or in whispered voices out of the back of someone’s hands, that some of the players feel that promotion would be a bad thing for them. Ridiculous.
To start with, there’s a share of £1million for them to pocket. Then there’s Jewell’s knack of getting rid of players who won’t commit to him. It’s better to move from a Premier League club to a top of the table Championship side than it is to start your slide down the league early, and last but not least there’s history. Our history may not be as longstanding, or written as large as other clubs, but this is the chance to change all of that. To put all of the ‘plucky little Wigan’ jibes behind us and join the big boys.
For the players it is a chance to be remembered forever, not just by the club but by the town, to join Lyon, Gillibrand, Campbell et al in the memories and hearts of the people who hold this club dear, who followed the club through thick and thin, whether at Colchester or Chelsea; Lincoln or Liverpool; Northwich or Newcastle; who contributed to players wages and refused to give in when their club was on the verge of collapse, for all those people who until a few years back this was just an impossible dream.
Forget about the money, forget about proving past managers wrong, forget about lining up against Thierry Henry next season. When you pull on those blue and white stripes on Sunday remember the Cheshire League, the Northern Premier League, remember 1932, 1978 and all that, honour John Brown; Tommy Gore, Joe Hinnigan, Neil Davids, Noel Ward, Ian Gillibrand, Frank Corrigan, Jeff Wright, Peter Houghton, John Wilkie and Ian Purdie; complete the journey that they started off for us nearly 27 years ago and above all prove to everyone what all us ‘tics have known all along and make this great club greater.
Oh, and the game? We’re playing Reading, they’ve a habit of taking points off us – but that’s not going to be a problem this time is it boys?