Sky and Grass – Wigan 1st of January 2013

I hope Wigan go down, I really do. I’ve no particular dislike of the club but it’s not even a football town. Wigan’s most boisterous support comes from the Billy Boston stand, named very appropriately, after a legendary Welsh winger who played for Wigan rugby league club between 1953 to 1968. That boisterous support basically used a bass drum to attempt to create an atmosphere, God forbid they actually did it by singing, shouting or what have you. Can anybody think of a legendary Wigan Athletic player they could name a stand after? Wigan Athletic couldn’t so they named the stand I was placed in today after their old stadium, Springfield Park and the entire stadium is named after the shy, retiring and too modest Dave Whelan, a man who played for Blackburn Rovers. Wigan can’t even fill out their stadium for the visit of United, Arsenal or Liverpool and worst of all, they hold back 1,000 tickets of the usual away fans allocation for United’s visit, to sell as corporate packages at £125.00 a pop. The face value of the ticket is £28.00, this means that Wigan are basically charging United fans £97.00 for chicken-in-the-basket or some other shite just so we can watch the match. It’s extortion basically. There are ticket touts operating, strictly speaking, illegally on Warwick Road yet they don’t take the piss like this. Wigan are somehow, perfectly within their rights to do this. The attendance today was 20,342 which means that officially, there was 4,791 empty seats in the ground. If they say so, but it looked like far more. United fans were screaming for tickets for this match, but Wigan, being the kind of small minded club it is would rather have advertisements for a betting company covering seats in a prominent position for TV cameras than having arses on them seats. Clubs with a mentality like that have no place in the top league. Their ground is in the middle of bleedin’ nowhere, all the backdrop is of sky and grass and whenever they score a goal, they need the stadium MC to induce them to celebrate by playing  Tom Hark by The Pirhanas. My ticket today came from a very decent Wigan fan who procured me two seats for the Springfield stand, sat supposedly amongst Wigan fans but there were a lot of reds in there today. United fans, as per usual on the road, were in fantastic voice with plenty of songs celebrating players from days of yore like George Best, Andy Cole, Nicky Butt, Jaap Stam, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Eric Cantona. Once United got a grip on the game, with goals from Javier Hernandez (35 mins) and Robin Van Persie (43) in the latter part the first half, everybody with a red allegiance relaxed and enjoyed the game. Wigan were spirited but completely outclassed and barring a balls up of proportions last witnesses when Everton last played at Old Trafford, this game was won by half time.

One credit I will give the Wigan stadium MC is his taste in music. With a nod firmly to Wigan’s famous past glories for it’s soul dominated nightclubs, pre match and half time, we were blessed to the delights of Jackie Wilson, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin amongst many others. It was a real treat to be in a football stadium where proper music was being played as opposed to the generic shit that gets churned out at Old Trafford, Villa Park and all the rest of them. I just hope that Alan Keegan was here today and picked up some tips for what could be played over the tannoy at Old Trafford.

Wigan came out after half time with a renewed purpose and basically threw the kitchen sink at United for the first twenty minutes of the second half. For all that effort, they never looked getting past a watertight Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans. This was as comfortable United performance as I’ve seen all season. When a quick thinking Javier Hernandez seized on a Robin Van Persie free kick which had ricochet off the Wigan wall on 63 minutes to put United 3-0 up, I was now waiting for an avalanche of United goals which didn’t actually materialise. There was an exodus of Wigan fans after the third goal, they’d clearly seen which way the wind was blowing off the Leeds/Liverpool canal outside the ground and couldn’t stick around to see anymore.

Despite probing attacks from Javier Hernandez, Robin Van Persie and Ryan Giggs, United couldn’t add to the three goals until Van Persie gave the score a deserved and correct complexion on 88 minutes to make the score 4-0. Special mention for today goes to the frequently and in my opinion, unfairly maligned Ryan Giggs, whom to my eyes, had a great game. Giggs attacked with a vigour of a lad 15/20 years his junior and for the coup-de-grace on 74 minutes, did a perfect slide tackle on an attacking Ronnie Stam that Ashley Cole would’ve been proud of.

Happy New Year

16 thoughts on “Sky and Grass – Wigan 1st of January 2013”

    1. I noticed that as well pre kick off but by the time the game was properly underway, the United end looked full, as for the rest of the ground, well…

  1. Agree in total about choice of noise, before and half time. It seemed like the coolest place on earth for that spell. Well done to the Wigan spin jock. But, he started of the second half with ‘three little birds’, which the Reds grasped with enthusiasm. Only for the aforementioned jock, to pull off with a screech. But credit where credit is due. A short jaunt across the Republic on New Years Day I find is just the job. This time in the season that’ll do me. So they’re staying. The support? Did they make any noise? Didn’t hear any. Don’t expect Keegan to play any thing other than fred the red tells him. He’s s+-t scared of that Commercial piece of work.

  2. The only comment of note I have to add to this is I once got off with Dave Whelan’s granddaughter. Far tastier than any local pie. See y’all at West Ham, balaclavas & Fred the Red mittens compulsory.

  3. To be fair, most teams tend to go very quiet when they go 4-0 down and there aren’t many teams that can outsing United, home *or* away.

    4,700 is almost 20% of our total seating at the DW Stadium. Back in the olden days (when all this were trees) we used to give the whole East Stand to travelling supporters – the likes of West Ham used to fill that frequently, But put yourself in our position. As a small town club, we can’t run the risk of the away support outnumbering the home contingent. Sure, we could sell out both the North and South Stand against Utd and Liverpool, Everton etc, but wouldn’t you rather have mostly home fans or away fans? Stands to reason for any club, come to think of it.

    The West Stand, the far more luxurious stand, is named after Springfield Park (not West Ham :P). It also irks me that we had to give in to that other sport for the East but that’s how it goes. Live and let live, eh?

    1. Obviously a home club is going to want to have the ground filled mostly with home fans but I would believe that a football club would want to sell out every possible position for a match as safely as possible come what may. If there is 5,000 (approx) empty seats and the locals don’t want them seats then their should be provision and contingency made easily enough to sell say, 4,000 of them tickets to away supporters without compromising segregation too much. When Wigan eventually get relegated, they will rue the fact that they didn’t sell those seats for the visits of United and Liverpool, making hay while the sun shone if you will.

      All said, I’ve just looked at the website linked with your name and enjoyed it very much. Nice one

      1. I can’t see Whelan agreeing to it, to be honest. It’s easier logistically (and for Greater Manchester Police, whom ‘Uncle Dave’ has historically had arguments with) to simply have fans in their own stands, simple segregation. I understand what you mean about flexibility from game to game, but the only way I can see him potentially ceding on that front is if attendances drop below, say, 14,000. Even then it’s a longshot. He’s a stubborn old barsteward, our Dave. 😉

        Interesting read on the away ticketing matter: http://redsaway.com/2013/01/are-wigan-really-showing-reds-hospitality/

        1. I remember all the mither that was going on with GMP and Wigan a few years ago. As for the logistics, the best example I can give you is of United playing away at Ewood Park when Blackburn were in the Premier League. All the Blackburn fans who regularly sat in the Darwen End were carted out of there into either the Main stand or the Riverside stand as Blackburn knew that United fans would comfortably fill the Darwen End. I’m aware of how arrogant it sounds that home fans should be moved out of their regular places for the visit of a well supported away side but the pragmatics are, United could’ve sold out the Boston Stand the other day (especially as it wasn’t televised) and I’m very surprised that a man of Dave Whelan’s renowned business savvy didn’t capitalise on that, the way that his club from playing days, Blackburn Rovers did.

          1. Ah, now carting people out of their seats? That’s just not on. Easier to give out free tickets to schools to artificially inflate the figures. 😉

  4. United fans go on and on about history and it being the main reason for us not being in the prem but how do you get history you can only make it over time. United fans crying out for tickets ??? How come the empty seats in the United stand ? You spend all the game singing “you’ve only come to see United” then after the game moan we didn’t come to see United so which is it. Didn’t know about the 1000 corporate tickets but how can you moan at the price if tickets . We don’t play any music when we score.

    1. “United fans go on and on about history and it being the main reason for us not being in the prem”

      Last time I looked, Wigan Athletic were still in the Premier League

      You ask about the empty seats in the United end (which I didn’t see too many of from the Springfield Stand, but I’ll let that pass) and then answer your own question a sentence or two later with this. “Didn’t know about the 1000 corporate tickets”

      As for You’ve only come to see United, the fact that the attendance on New Years Day was Wigan’s second highest of the season gave validity to that chant.

      As for not playing music when you score, well they certainly didn’t on New Years day because Wigan didn’t score but are you telling me that ‘Tom Hark’ by The Pirhanas dosen’t come blaring out of Wigan’s PA system when they score? I know Wigan haven’t scored a home goal since December the 8th but surely your memory span covers that period and beyond

      1. Since the 2nd or 3rd home game music hasn’t been played upon a Wigan goal. Also, yes united fans are some of the loudest away from home but at home Old Trafford is filled with fake southerners and rich folk who don’t care about United. They are some of the quietest in the league. I refer to last season’s Boxing Day Man Utd and Wigan game. 5 cheers throughout the whole game. 4 for the goals and 1 when Rooney came on (In church, it’s just like being in church). And on the pricing whilst we are on the same game I paid £45 to sit in the lofts of heaven requiring a set of binoculars to watch the game. If you are stupid enough to buy a corporate ticket for the best supported team in the world, then expect to pay higher prices. If you want to come and watch the FA Cup this weekend that ticket only costs £30. You can buy a season ticket at Wigan for £250, I assure you it’s because of United that the prices are high. If United sold cheap tickets themselves then the prices would reflect this. And finally, yes little Wigan have no fans blah blah blah, rugby town blah blah blah. How many of your home fans actually know about the your team and are not there for the ride. I understand you are a dedicated supporter but when Wigan was joining the big leagues in the 70’s all the lads and dads at the time supported other teams (United, Liverpool, Everton, City etc). It’s kinda hard to build a support up from your local populace when your town is full of glory hunters.

        1. If the Wigan PA/MC hasn’t played music when Wigan scored since the early part of this season then I take back what I said and just say (a) how pleased I am about that and (b) it was long overdue
          I sit near the away supporters at Old Trafford and can understand why they, or in this case you, think that Old Trafford is a quiet ground. When I occasionally do a swop and go in the Stretford End, it’s noisy and boisterous. Not like it’s heyday I grant but this is the thing, noise dosen’t travel very well around Old Trafford from one end of the ground to the other. When I’m in the Stretford End, I can’t hear opposition fans but I know for a fact that they’re making a racket (unless it’s Everton).
          As for last seasons boxing day match at Old Trafford, gotta agree about the atmosphere. All I can say is that there would’ve been a fair few people in the ground with a hangover watching a match against local opposition who couldn’t sell out there full allocation and of whom, about 150 were dressed up as bananas. When I saw the Wigan fans at Old Trafford last season, I thought somebody had spiked my morning cup of tea with an acid. If, as you say that the ground was filled with ‘fake southereners’ then I applaud their dedication in turning out for a match approximately 200 miles away immediately after Christmas day. It’s either be that or you would be parroting some urban myth perpetuated by City fans in the days when they had a shit side so decided to scratch some consolation by some risible and bollocks claim to being the true Mancunians.
          I genuinely understand your chagrin at paying £45.00 to watch a match when you’re probably used to paying substantially less, that aside, if you think that the away section at Old Trafford is ‘in the lofts of heaven’, then heaven must be a pretty low place to you. As for your kind offer to watch the FA cup at Wigan, I’m off to West Ham in about an hour to watch United and, this is the best bit, the ticket only cost £20.00

          1. Glad that your costs are down for this game. The magic of the FA Cup works in mysterious ways. If you wanna come and sit in the Wigan end again today though you can get in for a tenner. £30 is for a box. Personally I think the prices at Wigan are well below cheap when you put into context how much they cost at other grounds. Just look at QPR when they got promoted. Their prices soared almost 100%!?! For premiership football if more of the ‘small’ clubs charged cheaper prices there would be less empty seats.

          2. I know all about QPR. I remember first going there as a young adult in January 1991 and paying £6.00 to stand at the school end. Last time I was there was in December 2011 and the ticket was £60.00 . The price of the ticket might have gone up ten fold in the intervening 21 years but I can assure you my wages hadn’t. Agree entirely with your last point

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