When I was younger and dafter I spent several years attempting to get to every game of the season home and away. Indeed I once managed to achieve this feat for literary purposes. If I’m honest those days are gone for me for which I make no apology as I’m a family man nowadays with precious little spare time at weekends. The upshot of which is that I have “only” managed to get to around 42 games of 62 this season.
However, it’s pleasing to see so many young – and indeed not so young fans now picking up the mantle and travelling in such good numbers with great spirit. Learning to love their club just as we all did no matter how long ago it was when you first fell for Wigan Athletic. I stopped and paused under the stand at half time on Monday as it was absolutely bouncing. Loftus Road was literally shaking to the sounds of travelling Wiganers singing Depeche Mode.
I saw young, gleeful, smiling faces and a few older ones, indeed plenty of folk old enough to know better. Of course only the other three sides were bouncing come full time. Yet I saw enough spirit amongst our fans to know that we’ll be OK. I don’t agree with everything that goes on amongst our support, quite possibly because I’m no longer young and boisterous myself but I know we’re in safe hands.
Even those youngsters who have only been born into the delights of Wigan Athletic in the last few years have had a wonderful ride and it is these memories that will whet the appetite and foster loyalty for whatever lies ahead. In the last few years, we’ve beaten all the biggest names in the game, spent eight years in the Premier League, had numerous Wembley trips and oh yes, we won the FA Cup!
If the residents of Wigan who have travelled the length and breadth of the country (and Europe!) this year have learnt one thing it’s that you can get your rewards for shunning the trophy laden big clubs in favour of your local football team. No matter what the future holds; no matter what flak gets thrown at our over-achieving little club, we’ve got that heart, soul and passion that every one of us can be proud of whatever stage of life you are at.
Having said all that, a little bit of recharging of the batteries wouldn’t go amiss for all of us!
First published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column Wednesday 14th May 2014
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