As you may have noticed, keeping the writing going over the last year has been difficult, for reasons both personal and footballing. Hell, the last eight years have been hard if you want to talk football, but that’s just the game we love, isn’t it? It’s like teenage poetry, wave after wave of turgid, boring prose, punctuated by streams of angst and anguished pain. But then, every so often, comes a brief, bright moment of brilliant beauty that makes it all worthwhile.
Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. The fact is that we’d still wade through all the crap if we never made it to one of those moments. Thousands of football fans’ across the country feed off scraps, the odd good goal, the rare late winner, the best it gets for some is the sniff of a play-off place or a late escape from relegation.
I’m still experiencing massive waves of emotion as little crystals of popping candy left by Saturday’s victory explode with fresh realisations like going back to Wembley in August for the charity shield, or new questions like whether the Europa League games will be included in our season tickets. It’s like the best drug you’ve ever taken, Ben Watson’s goal was up there with the greatest feelings you’re ever going to get. Birth of a child? I’ll give you that, but sex? Castrate me now.
Latics winning the FA Cup was never even a childhood dream to me but, by streets, it’s given me the best football related moment I could ever picture and not through a lack of imagination. It really is that good, but the point, as much as there is one, is that it isn’t some kind of reward or recompense for thirty or so years of hurt, I’d do all that again, and more, and may well have to.
“This Northern Soul”, it’s a funny phrase which often gets us confused with the world of 4/4 beats, talc and Oxford bags, but it was chosen for more than it’s pun value. Of course it resonates with our town’s rich, but oft ignored history however it’s much simpler than that , the *this* northern soul we had in mind was Wigan Athletic, the special little club that brings us together and brings meaning to whatever we choose to do with our Saturday afternoons, Sunday tea times or whenever it is that those that try to ru(i)n the game deign to let us gather together for the world’s entertainment.
Whilst we’re talking about phrases, there are a couple more that we’ve coined that seem to have struck a chord. “No fans, no history, no money, no worries” was more a tongue in cheek reminder to those on our side of the fence who occasionally let their expectations get the better of them than it was a sideswipe at the barstool pundits and armchair FA board members who’d happily see the name of Wigan Athletic expunged from all football records, but it works both ways.
The most important part of that chain is the last, we really should have “no worries” about what anyone else thinks, it really doesn’t matter how many people turn up at the DW, it doesn’t matter whether we spend two or twenty million on players and as for history. We’ve got one, we just don’t dwell on it because as that other (possibly borrowed) phrase goes “History is yesterday’s news” who needs that when you can be making news (and history) today.
And of course, after the weekend’s cup exploits, it’s back to making history in the league again tonight. If you got past all the references to Uncle Dave’s leg over the last few days, you might have heard that latics are on the verge of being the first team to win the FA Cup and get relegated in the same season. You may be feeling embarrassed at the prospect, you shouldn’t. Whatever happens over the next couple of days (or may have already happened by the tie you read this) we can hold your head up high and be proud of our team, of our club.
There’s no shame in relegation, more teams have been relegated from the top flight than have held the trophy that Emerson Boyce and Gary Caldwell hoisted on Saturday tea-time. There’s nothing to fear in the championship, no matter who stays and who goes, we’ll have a team to watch, a European campaign (A EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN) to look forward to, games to watch, pints to be drunk, debates to be had and time to truly reflect on the great times that we’ve had over the last eight years.
But, hey, I’m getting ahead of myself, I’m typing this on a train home to see how events unfold at the Emirates and that in itself is testament to just, when we are at our best, what a great club we can be. Here we are faced with a popular wisdom that says we’re all but mathematically relegated and yet we know, not through desperation or blind faith but through experience, we know that whilst there is a chance, there is a way, where there is belief then anything is possible.
Ah, the B word, but if the last few days have taught us anything, it must be that it’s never wrong to believe, especially when all we have to believe in is that our club really is a special little club, with a deep, unbreakable, northern soul. Believe that and we really do have nothing to fear. Whatever happens.
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