Go on, I’ll admit that I’ve been in a bit of a Latics based slump recently, then I’ll pause, let you gather your thoughts, build your pre-conceptions and then hit you with the truth. I’ve not been down because of events in the pitch, uninspiring performances or because our manager doesn’t scream himself hoarse every game, what’s been getting to me is the constant bickering, over emotion and excessive demands. I get enough of that at home from my two young kids without it affecting my escape route as well.
Any way, all that reached a tipping point at about five past nine on Tuesday night when with two goals down Latics looked to replace one player who was knackered and another who had hardly covered himself in glory with players who play in the same positions, but offered more attacking options. I’m still furious at the response from the east stand, but at the time it shocked me so much that my first reaction was to turn and walk away, I didn’t want any part of it, it wasn’t what I signed up for.
Of course I didn’t, there was free beer awaiting me upstairs, but more so because that was the point that I realised that it wasn’t me that was out of step with reality and that I didn’t care if I was out of step with the rest of you. You behave like you’re West Ham or Newcastle if you like, but if we’re going down (and by no means am I admitting defeat on that front, just yet) I’m going to do it with some dignity.
We’ve had a good time for most of the last fifteen years and a great time for a big chunk of the last ten. The last five years have given us an experience that was beyond the wildest dreams of most people I grew up as a Latics fan and now, if this is the end of one phase of Latics’ history and the start of another, I want to take some good memories with me, I want to enjoy the last days in the black sun of the Premier League and go out with my head held high in the knowledge that no one, anywhere, could have predicted that we would have done what we did.
Remember those two fingers we stuck up to the establishment back in 2005? I want to see those again rather than watching us rip our club apart.
The knicker wetting irony of that is, if we unite, get some of that Little Wigan spirit back, rather than acting like petulant children under the threat of having their favourite toy taken away, then we’re about a million times more likely to keep the thing that some of us has decided is more precious than the club itself. Over the years, plenty of people have claimed that many things would turn the club into a laughing stock.
It never happened, but trust me it will if we if we carry on the way we are. Imagine saying goodbye to the top flight with a half empty, falling out amongst themselves stand on a Sunday in May at the Britannia Stadium. Embarassing? Well that’s the way we’re heading. Now’s the time to come together, even if you don’t believe in the manager, the players or the chairman, sing for the club, shout for the shirt, scream for your pride.
A few years back, I felt the need to write a call to arms for the feckless sods that were purporting to be Latics players. I don’t feel like I’m there with them, yet, but I am with us. But then again why go re-inventing the wheel? I’ve always tended to think that Kiplings ‘masterpiece’ was a load of sentimental tosh but somehow it appears rather appropriate right now.
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!