We need to talk

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We need to talk about Latics, we need to talk about this fantastic side that has been assembled this season and we sadly need to talk about the support that this side receive.

Let’s establish a few facts before we go on, Wigan Athletic do fantastically well in terms of crowd numbers and have done fantastically well over the last two decades. For a club our size, in our area with our relatively recent history our crowd numbers stand up to scrutiny but there is still so much more that could be achieved.

It’s well known that the DW Stadium, built with the Premier League in mind is too big for us – even our chairman David Sharpe admits that, but the DW was never intended for League One. It was intended for those heady Premier League days of which we had many and what a difference a full(er) house can have to the atmosphere.

No example of that was more starker than in the past week, Monday night saw over 19,000 pack in to the DW for that momentous evening against Manchester City and what an amazing atmosphere it was. The occasion and the spectacle of course helped, but it makes such a difference to the side and the performance when the atmosphere is like that.

The same could be said for the West Ham game, although the attendance wasn’t as high as the Manchester City game the atmosphere was just as electric. It makes a massive difference to this team and this team really do deserve your support. When people like Max Power and Will Grigg say what a difference the atmosphere makes its time we sat up and took notice.

How disappointing for them and the rest of this team that following their heroics against Manchester City the attendance against Rochdale reverted to 8,654. In contrast the game against Gillingham who you would have expected to bring less away fans than Rochdale had 8,384 there. So arguably less than 300 extra spectators stayed for our next Saturday league game.

What happened to the extra seven and odd thousand people who turned out in the home ends for that fantastic win over Manchester City? I know times are hard, I also know what a struggle it is both financially and in terms of juggling work and family commitments to get along to the DW. But I also know there are plenty of football fans in our town and in our borough.

There are also the Wiganer’s who love nothing more than a good whinge about money.

Latics and primarily the Whelan family have made football ridiculously affordable for the last twenty years. Wigan were frequently the cheapest club to watch in our eight seasons in the Premier League (apart from that dodgy second season), since relegation from the Premier League we’ve had fantastic deals for season ticket holders and individual match goers. These sadly haven’t had the sort of uptake that would have made it worthwhile the club doing it again.

One only has to scan social media to see the groans at having the prospect of paying £20 for an FA Cup quarter-final in a few weeks time. Or the person who replied to David Sharpe’s rallying call on twitter for more people to come and support the lads at Blackburn by asking why weren’t the club laying on free travel.

I’d wager no other club offers so much and gets so little credit, with a change of ownership in the offing the good times of cheap tickets for all may well be coming to an end. It could well be a case of be careful what you wish for or rather complain about.

This article isn’t intended to criticise anyone, certainly not those loyal Latics fans who go week in week out and those who do support the lads when they can, it’s aimed at those who can go and have been but for some reason stay away. Come back and give this team your support, they’re on the verge of something special and they deserve the support of all Wiganers old and new.

Back to matters on the pitch, Latics had a wasted trip down to Bristol on Tuesday as the continued problems with the Beast from the East ended any hope of us building on the win over Rochdale. With Blackburn winning again on Tuesday night it makes this Sunday’s match at Ewood Park even more important in the shakeup of things.

We’re still in a decent position, even though we’ve slipped behind in recent weeks. But with the games in hand building up what a statement of intent it would be if we could go to Ewood Park and get a result.

We’ve not the best of records over in East Lancashire, to say the least. In fact we’ve only ever won once at Ewood Park, what a time to change that record – if yet another game isn’t snowed off that is.

Sean Livesey

First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 2nd March 2018

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