Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Will Grigg's on Fire - Top of the Pops!

After a season that saw Wigan Athletic win League One with a young, hungry squad playing brilliant football, it wasn’t likely to get any better as we all settled into our summer break. It just has.

‘Will Grigg’s on Fire’ a ‘remix’ of the Gala dance classic ‘Freed From Desire’ apparently spread like wildfire after the Swindon game in March. The song inspired fan Sean Kennedy to, quite randomly (and brilliantly!) film himself singing the song and posting it online. Many ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ later, a good portion of the Latics fanbase were organised enough to belt it out en masse. Following the team’s great form and Grigg scoring goal after goal, the song became a viral hit and captured the imaginations of many people online, with Sean himself doing interviews with Sky Sports News (and getting a free season ticket for next season, as well as helping the club to promote the new kit!) The whole craze seemed to start to go viral just hours after we lifted the League One trophy, after the final home game of the season against Barnsley, as a crowd of Latics fans brought Wigan to a standstill (well, at least one bus) as they sang and bounced around to it in the street!

The last month has seen many parody videos – depicting scenes from popular television shows mainly, overlaid with the audio of Latics fans singing the song – continuing to grow in popularity, gaining well over half a million hits. House music duo Blonde, who have had two top 10 hits in the last two years, were just two of the many people caught up in ‘Will Grigg Mania’ and arranged with Sean and Latics Chairman, David Sharpe, to produce a version of the song, with the famous chorus, along with new lyrics and release it for Joseph’s Goal, a charity that has been heavily-related with the club in the past (who could forget that moment when Emmerson Boyce carried mascot Joe out, prior to the FA Cup Final?)

Joseph's Goal is a charity set up to increase awareness of NKH (Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia) and to raise funds for research to find better treatments and eventually a cure. We are supporting Dr Johan Van Hove at the University of Colorado, who is the world leader in researching this condition. Because it is so rare and so little research has been done, literally every penny raised can and will make a difference. – Joseph’s Goal

Aside from raising money for a great cause, it’ll actually be quite an achievement to get the song in the top 40 and played on BBC radio 1’s official chart show on Sunday – let’s make it happen! I’ve had it on good authority that the teenagers rate it as a ‘banging tune’. Whatever that means, I’m sure it’s positive. Well worth 79p of anyone's money.

At the moment you can purchase the song from the following retailers;

Google Play

Sean Kennedy Sings Will Grigg's on Fire (plus a few others!)

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Wigan Athletic - Season Review 2015/16

It only seemed like yesterday that I embarked on my first game of pre-season, which saw me being sick in a bin in Southport, after a 2-0 win, plenty of ale and a spot of cod (and chips). Last Sunday was rounded off with a 4-1 defeat, lifting of a title and hundreds of idiots blocking roads and dancing on tables singing ‘Will Grigg’s On Fire’ in the town centre. Great scenes that was indicative of our season; for me, my most enjoyable season watching Latics for many a year.

Why was that? Why was it more enjoyable than being in the Premier League? Many feel that ‘we’ve got our club back’ after a period of instability and bad decision followed by bad decision, following our relegation to The Championship in 2013. I must admit that I experienced spells of disheartenment during periods of our spell in the Premier League, because I felt going to games was a chore that I couldn’t afford, whilst plastic Premier league ‘fans’, had a go at us for being a relatively-small club (by Premier League-standards). I want us to succeed at the highest level, but I felt that the club needed to reinvent itself in order for it to improve - if anything, I feel we got promoted perhaps TOO soon last time and we didn’t have that diehard supporter base to fall back on, when the club fell through the leagues. We’ve averaged just shy of 10,000 this season which is somewhat more than our average in our last season in the third tier and one of the highest in the division. There’s still plenty of work to do, but the season ticket prices for 2016/17 will be a massive help and the club deserve huge credit for all they’ve done this season.

With 2016/17 being the last season that we’ll be receiving the much-maligned ‘parachute payments’, it’s now more crucial than ever that we try to build up the supporter base and continue to improve our playing squad, by adding young and upcoming ‘assets’ to our squad, otherwise it’ll be a struggle in future seasons to sustain a Championship team, let alone one with ambitions of winning promotion from the league. Personally, I would take a mid-table finish with those improvements in place right now – but this is Wigan Athletic and by now, we should know that nothing we ever predict (or want) will happen!

With all that, here are my ‘awards’ for this season: 

Home Game of the Season – Gillingham. 2-0 down and getting battered by a side set to go top of the league, then all of sudden we turned it round to win 3-2, scoring the winner in injury time and all. Prior to that game, we didn’t beat a team regarded as a ‘top team’ and it may have caused a psychological issue. No surprise we didn’t lose a game in the league for 3 months afterwards. 

Away Game of the Season – Walsall, similar reasons to Gillingham; this was a marker for our season, a feeling that we were going genuinely to challenge. An injury time Yanic winner sending Latics into the automatic promotion places, leapfrogging the home side, and Latics supporters leapfrogging advertisement hoardings and running onto the pitch to celebrate like they always used to seem to do on a regular basis! 

Goal of the Season – Max Power, Swindon away. I just thought the way that he controlled the ball, getting it out of his feet then curling it in from all of 30 yards was just beautiful. The perfect goal for a central midfielder to score, in my opinion! 

Player of the Season – Michael Jacobs. Difficult to choose, I know (I even voted for David Perkins in the club awards) but just for an alternative take, I think Jacobs’ versatility and creativity was invaluable earlier in the season when the team was struggling to click. The industrious midfielder would have been a shoe-in for the club award if he hadn’t have been injured for the last few months, I feel. Those early-season winners against Crewe and Fleetwood in particular, stand out for me as highlights in a very inconsistent first couple of months – we’d be at least 4 points worse off without them and possibly out of the automatic promotion places! Like a few of our players, if he’s given enough of a run in starting games in The Championship next season, I can see him having a real impact as he continues to improve with this young and hungry team. 

‘OH FFS’ moment of the season – Chesterfield away. Listening on the radio is always an experience, due to your mind putting pictures with the over-excitable audio, but this game made it far more heart-stopping. 2-nil down with 10 minutes to go – I switched off in a fit of anger. I threw a paddy. A bit later, after I had calmed down with a brew and switched on Sky Sports News, I saw that we had got one back and tuned back in – just as Davies was about to take the penalty. The rest, well I’m sure you know what happened. Unbelievable scenes (in my house, let alone Latics supporters running on the pitch!)

And that brings me to away supporter of the year. This lad. His reactions to the Latics comeback is priceless!

Here’s to the new season and hopefully the continued upward trajectory of Wigan Athletic!

Friday, 22 April 2016

On The March With Parachute Payments FC

Have you ever noticed that when someone or something is doing well, people always try to find something negative to say about them? Maybe to use it as an excuse as to why they feel that they aren’t doing as well? We had that for years when Latics where on their way up to the Premier League (Whelan’s money!) now we’re back at the summit of League One, it’s all because of the Premier League parachute payments we’re still receiving and nothing whatsoever to do with the players and management team working hard over the course of the season.

True, we've been in an excellent position to be able to go out and strengthen at the right times, because we’ve had that money blanket to fall back upon but that money exists because the gap in revenue between the Premier League and the Football League is too wide to bridge. We earned that money fair and square by being in the Premier League for 8 seasons. Is it our fault that the gap in money exists?  Instead of having a go at Wigan Athletic, why not turn your attentions to the Football League for not trying to negotiate a better deal with their television partners and sponsors, so that gap can be made a tiny-bit smaller? SKY television show live games and now their betting arm sponsors the leagues...dare I say that the Football League should be trying harder to push for increased deals from them for such exclusive access?

Do parachute payments equal success anyway? No, I’m not sure they automatically do – no doubting that they’re an advantage but we had the payments last year and got relegated from The Championship, so did Wolves a few seasons earlier. The payments haven’t helped Bolton or Blackburn either, nor QPR who have had generous backing from their owners, as well as the (increased) parachute payments. Football, as it should always be, is all about clubs being ran well on and off the pitch. Good clubs are organised from top-to-bottom, regardless of how much money they have available to spend. Burnley, for example, have been able to spend the money they received last season to keep the majority of their squad together and to pick up a few exciting players and are now currently battling away at the top of The Championship. They are a well organised club. We just didn’t compete well enough last season, we used some of our money to make some shocking signings and paid the price. We just weren’t organised enough.

Despite the club’s bad decisions on the field, we at least can take pride in how its profit margins are maintained, because as soon as the possibility of relegation was looming, we immediately sold a vast number of players, brought in some lower-earners to try and keep us in the league and then got rid of them in the summer when we were relegated and replaced them with even lower-earners with League One experience. We adapted to our surroundings and knew that we had to save what is left of the parachute payments to build a younger, hungrier and less-expensive squad. We now have a future with these players, something we wouldn’t have had if we had used the payments to maintain a squad with Premier League wages. Surely that’s a tactic that should be commended and adopted by clubs who find themselves in similar situations?

What our negative detractors won’t take into account too, is that our payments go a long way to help to facilitate the cost of ticketing. We’ve all heard, I’m sure by now, that clubs in the Premier League don’t really need gate receipts to pay the wage bill any more – that money comes from television and sponsorship deals. So why charge the high prices they do for tickets? The answer is simply because they have people in the background wanting to make money. For nearly a decade now, Latics have been lauded for keeping prices as low as possible. Recently, the club announced that season tickets from next season will be £179 for renewals and £199 for new season ticket holders. A brilliant deal and one that I expect/hope will help the club to maintain a 10-15,000 supporter base next season, especially if we are successful in winning promotion this year. What’s the point in charging £300 for a season ticket when nobody is going to buy it? You might as well charge as low a price as possible and if we sell 2 season tickets for every 1 £300 season ticket, then that’s a profit right there.

Saturday after next, we’ll be heading to Blackpool, a club that shines a spotlight on how to run themselves badly, in spite of parachute payments. Well I say ‘run badly’ – critics of the Oystons accuse them of doing it purposely so as owners, they pocket the money earned by the club, without re-investing it back. Not me...I’m not accusing them of anything. That game could conceivably see us promoted to The Championship – and they relegated to the fourth tier. This August will mark 6 years since they beat us 4-0 at the DW in the Premier League. That just shows why it’s better for clubs to reinvest their incomes – because where would that money go if it isn’t reinvested? As a supporter, I don’t want to see faceless people pocketing the majority of the money that my club earns - I’m delighted that our club doesn’t do that. That’s why I can say it is MY club, because I feel involved, I feel that everyone is working to get it to be as successful as it possibly can be.

The question remains for some though; should Wigan Athletic spend their parachute payments, because the other 23 clubs don’t get the same money? Of course we should spend it; the club has earned the money and instead of the owner pocketing it, he has reinvested it into the club to build an exciting future, with exciting players, a new training ground, with cheap tickets thrown in for everyone. That’s all we should want from our football clubs, surely?

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Don't Blame It On the Warriors...

As tempting as it might be to point the blame at them, it isn’t the fault of the Wigan Warriors that the pitch at the DW Stadium turned into a mudbath on Friday night and is, at time of writing on Tuesday morning, being replaced. Neither, may I add, is it the fault of the Latics’ U18’s who played out a rather thrilling encounter against Manchester City at the stadium last week, which gave only 2 days recovery for the pitch in preparation for Friday. No, there is only ONE thing to blame for this issue and if you haven’t worked it out yet, you’ve got another 30 seconds of reading this gubbins before you find out.

The Warriors’ 12-6 win over Catalan Dragons live on SKY became known by a wider internet audience as ‘Mudbathgate’. Or maybe just by me. Since then, the story has been the talk of Twitter, Facebook and the queue for the deli counter at Asda. There’s many a silly argument and wildly untrue accusations about key people behind the stadium going on and it makes amusing reading, as these Wigan internet titans go head-to-head, spouting their barely-literate abuse. But you know what? I can’t be arsed with these arguments, they are simply irrelevant; a good portion of Latics supporters might be of the Stone Island variety and fond of waving pyrotechnics, yes a good portion of the Rugby support might be from out-of-town and profess to hate 'soccer' when they 'support' another football team, but it really doesn’t matter. This is OUR stadium – both clubs lease the ground from one of the Whelan family’s various companies, so ultimately it is they, not the clubs, who should be responsible for the upkeep of the ground. So stop throwing those metaphorical pies, eh?

The stadium, built on a former rubbish tip and located as it is on a flood plain (as well as under a water table) has always been prone to rain water. In recent years, the ground staff have done a decent job with the pitch, especially in the winter months but this year, the rainfall has just kept on coming. Don't get me wrong, the pitch hasn't been brilliant in prior weeks by any means, but was certainly still playable up until after the youth game on Tuesday night, which was followed by continuous rain until Friday and the Warriors game. Just to underline this issue - there is a river, a canal and a water tank (that drains the water from the pitch) near the stadium – and they collectively couldn’t drain the rainwater from the immediate area fast enough. For me, it’s the speed of the deterioration that has been surprising, as the pitch was fine a few weeks ago, even after the Boxing Day game against Sheffield United was postponed due to flooding. Our next home game after that was on the 7th January against Gillingham and the pitch looked fine, but it continued to pour down.  9 days later against Chesterfield saw snow fritter down as Max Power drove the ball in from 30 yards to set us on the way to another vital win. It was the hailstone storm in the middle of the Port Vale match that took the piss for me and started the rapid deterioration of the pitch, which I’d imagine was difficult to run on in the end. So that’s all varieties of water right there - and it’s been coming down for 2 months. We’re only missing acid rain – and that’s a top trumps card nobody wants to have.

Away from Mudbathgate, people have noticed that the Warriors have pencilled in a home game against Hull KR on the SAME DAY as Latics’ home game against Rochdale. There are rumours already afoot that David Sharpe is willing to move the Easter Monday game to a 12pm kick-off, allowing the Warriors to kick-off their game at 8pm.  Whether this is a workable solution, remains to be seen but if there’s no-one to blame, aside from the weather* for Mudbathgate, then this issue can be wholly blamed on the Super League for arranging this match without offering any consultation. For one, the football fixture list was out nearly FOUR MONTHS before they decided to give Warriors a home date that was already booked. Secondly – isn’t Rugby League supposed to be a summer game? Why on earth are they playing in FEBRUARY? Wouldn’t a March/April start time not be better suited to their ‘product’? Aside from making marketing sense (which the Super League rarely does) it’ll give chance for those multi-purpose stadiums to get their pitches in better condition, as hopefully, the weather will have improved by the Spring. I must be missing something, to me it makes common sense to not start your summer game in the last knockings of Winter, but I’m a Wiganer on the internet, common sense isn’t our forte it seems.

Hopefully both clubs can sort out this mess, because anything less will be a detriment to the both of us and that's something we all can at least agree on.

*likely to be caused by global warming of course – so it’s all our faults!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Wigan Athletic vs. Man City: In The FA (Youth) Cup

Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester City has always thrown up an interesting game; the FA Cup 3rd round in 1971, the play-offs in 1999, the 4-3 on Boxing Day 2005 and of course, the FA Cup final in 2013. This trend continued on a cold February night in 2016 – this time in the 5th round of the FA Youth Cup. This was the first time that Latics had been at this stage of the competition and a tie against a club with probably the most ambitious youth set-up in the world, was always going to be difficult. Latics lost 3-1, but only after extra-time (which turned out to be extra-extra time) and overall was a good nights entertainment on a cold Tuesday, well worth the five pound entrance fee.

Making my way into the West Stand just before kick-off, I notice the centre of the stand is fairly packed, so elect to take a seat just off-centre. Being the polite gentleman I am, I make sure not to sit in the way of two men on the row behind me. It turns out these chaps were City supporters (there were quite the number there) and they seemed to be regulars at City's youth games. A few minutes into the match though, I regret sitting there because all they did was moan! Moan, moan, moan, moan. Moaned at anything; their team, our team, the weather, the pitch, the fact there’s gaps in between the stand that let the wind in. No wonder City squads of the past are known for regularly messing things up if they have to deal with this type of negativity every week. Then again, I can’t talk being a Latics supporter!

To be fair to City though, it was great to see so many of their supporters interested in their youth team (on a night when the first team were in Premier League action at Sunderland), in an era when it’s becoming increasingly expensive to watch first team games, I can see the bigger clubs having quite the crowds at youth/development squad games, something which I hope clubs promote further; playing in front of bigger crowds will only help these young players to experience what it might be like playing in a first team environment. And the endless moaning makes the scenario even more realistic. Currently, the Latics youth games are played in the midweek, in the mornings, which is never going to attract any sort of crowd.

City, with their team made up of foreign, as well as locally-based players, dominated the ball but Latics counter-attacked well; the full-backs (Baxendale and Lingard) in particular were impressive and the defending was disciplined for the most part. Latics took the lead early in the second half when Callum Lang flicked the ball over a City defender, making his way into the box and squeezing the ball under Daniel Grimshaw in the City goal, which drew a huge cheer from the majority of the 650 crowd, who had been increasingly drawn into this game through its intense nature. City equalised through a Will Patching free-kick before that intense nature boiled over, as both sides got into quite the scuffle when City give away a free-kick in the last minute on the right touchline. Once things had calmed down, the free-kick was beautifully taken by Lingard and Thomas Powell managed to get his head to the ball...with Ben Watson-esq headlines ready to be written...and it hit the goalkeeper. So unlucky.

Extra time it was and I couldn’t help but feel that the chance had gone. Despite some great last-ditch defending, Latics looked knackered throughout extra-time and in the 5th minute of added time in extra-time (!!!) City broke through the Latics backline which led to goalkeeper, Kelland Absalom, bringing down Lukas Nmecha for a penalty. Nmecha made it 2-1 from the spot and despite having a number of clear-cut chances in the second period (their decision-making wasn’t very good as they constantly elected to pass rather than shoot) it was only in the last minute of extra time that City wrapped it up, albeit with a finely-worked goal through Issac Buckley.

The young Latics team can take great credit from how they performed on the night, especially against Manchester City, who currently lead the top tier – Latics are in the third tier, as we strive to improve our facilities, which will enable us to move up the youth leagues. Latics are currently top of the Football League Youth Alliance (North-West) and are still in the Lancashire FA Cup, so hopefully some silverware will be on its way to the youth lads very soon!

Friday, 29 January 2016

Smashing The (Transfer) Window

We want to smash it” said recently-installed Latics chairman David Sharpe at a fans forum event in the summer. His enthusiasm has since been misread by many as ‘arrogance’ – what he actually said was ‘we WANT to smash the division and get 100 pointsnotwe WILL smash the division and get 100 points’. That’s an important difference. Personally, that's exactly what I wanted to hear after a terrible season full of changes and poor performances. Currently, we’re in 4th place in League One, just 5 points off an automatic promotion place, with 18 games to go. We’ve not exactly smashed anything yet, but we’ve certainly shown signs of doing so, with our swashbuckling style of football led by our young officers on the good ship Wigan Athletic, which by the way, was sinking without trace 12 months ago.

We underlined our ambitions yesterdays by announcing the signings of Sam Morsy and Ryan Colclough from fellow League One clubs Chesterfield and Crewe. Both are highly-rated, both are under 25 and both reportedly converted by clubs in The Championship – the exact profile of player the club should be signing. We are rebuilding the squad with mostly young, hungry players who are on their way up – not players who are on their way down. It’s an exciting time to be a Latics supporter, as evidenced by the away followings this season, which have dwarfed that of our followings in the Premier League. The price of tickets, the shorter distances, new grounds to visit and of course, the competitiveness of the games have all contributed to those followings; the supporters are enjoying their days out, which is what supporting a club should ultimately be about. The transfer policy of the club this season has made it that extra exciting!

Signing these players has mostly been made possible by the fact the club are receiving parachute payments from the Premier League, which has riled some fellow League One supporters. Let’s get this right here – the gulf in television money between the Premier League and the rest isn’t the fault of Wigan Athletic; we earned those parachute payments by staying in that league for 8 years. The payments (which are spread over a four-year period) are designed to make up for the shortfall in television money following relegation from the Premier League to pay the wages of players acquired whilst you were there. Latics have been intelligent about this – we’ve traded and cashed in on two separate squads since relegation (even sacrificing a second relegation), meaning that in reality, we’ve got a wage budget of a Championship club, playing in League One, rather than a Premier League budget, which we couldn't afford to pay with the parachute payments anyway. This foresight has given the club extra room in the transfer market and freed up funds to bring in the two players mentioned, as well as Yanic Wildschut and Reece Wabara this transfer window alone. Young, exciting players who could help the club to The Championship and beyond, or be an asset for the club to trade on in the future. It’s great business, from a forward-thinking club and I’m very proud of them for being so.

Meanwhile, down Horwich way, Bolton Wanderers have ran out of money in their final year of parachute payments, as they occupy bottom spot in The Championship and are looking likely to be in League One next season. I don’t know enough about their finances to make an in-depth comment, I just don’t understand how the club have lost all of that money (over £100m) when they too, have had a turnover of their squad in the last 4 years. They are an example of how having parachute payments DOESN’T mean an unfair playing field for the rest (in fact, if you look closely, those with parachute payments rarely win promotion back to the Premier League from The Championship). It makes me think how fortunate I am being a Wigan Athletic supporter (despite Bolton being a league higher – the long term is more important than the short term) which in itself is a fallacy, thinking myself ‘lucky’ for supporting a club who is able to responsibly run its finances. There’s a lot of myth about money in football and people do tend to look at short term success and equate it with throwing money at it in order to garner a short-term fix when a sit down and think, then eventually investing in the right areas is the right way to go to sustain success in the long term.

Port Vale are next up at the DW Stadium tomorrow, with new signings Morsy (a former Vale player) and Colclough (grew up around the corner from Vale Park) expected to feature and hopefully contribute to 3 points in our bid to reach those automatic promotion places. And you know what? I’m more excited at the prospect than a match against a Man Utd or an Arsenal.

Let’s smash it!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Jeff Stelling Isn't A Football Supporter

As part of my ongoing book series, chronicling the 92 clubs of the English professional leagues* I found myself at the West Brom vs. Bristol City FA Cup tie on the 9th January, which finished 2-2 with a last minute equaliser for the home side. A great cup tie, something that would made a good watch for any neutral. Before the start of the match however, I was browsing Twitter and those who I follow were moaning about Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff Stelling. It wasn’t long before I found out that Stelling had made a derogatory remark about Wigan supporters for saying that they preferred the FA Cup win in 2013 to a place in the Premier League. “Their next away game is at Crewe” sings ringleader Stelling, as his panel of monkeys guffawed at the remark, pointing out our fall from grace; not playing the Premier League's big guns each week.

Firstly – we’ve got to look at the bigger picture here. Stelling is very much a cheerleader for Sky television. A company who is constantly telling us that the Premier League (which they extensively cover) is the ‘best league in the world’. The FA Cup, which isn’t covered by Sky, is shunned away and only covered by Sky as an afterthought – so it shouldn’t really be a surprise that Stelling’s agenda is to make the Premier League look more attractive than it actually is. They’re basically a magazine airbrushing an old, knackered model whose only positive is that they've got a few bob to spend on trying to garner a good reputation.

The thing is though Jeff, the Premier League isn’t the best league in the world. And going to Crewe – is a far better away trip for Wigan Athletic in every aspect than one to a Manchester United or an Arsenal. If you were a proper football supporter, then you’ll understand that. Your remit is to promote your employer's product to people who don't go to football matches, not to tell us how supporting a club who finishes 17th in the league is better than supporting a club who have won a trophy. The oldest trophy in association football. The cost is a huge factor - a ticket for Manchester United and Arsenal will cost £50+ for Crewe – it's £20. We aren't treated like cattle to be milked when we turn up to a town or city with our money; these places actually try to make your day enjoyable for your money. Just to underline what I'm saying, just days after tickets for the match went on sale we’ve sold our allocation and at the time of writing, have received even more tickets, which will mean we’ll be taking 2,000+ to Crewe – something which happened on rare occasions in the Premier League. It’s great when you go to the grounds of the country's biggest clubs for the first time, I’ll admit, but once the novelty has worn off and you have to go back, time and time again, you see it for the extortionate scam that following football can truly be. It’s interesting if you take into account that Stelling professes to support League Two’s Hartlepool United – but if he indeed does hold the attitude we’ve discussed, I doubt that he truly is a supporter.

At the West Brom match and with his side 2-1 down and seemingly on their way out of the competition to Championship opposition, a bloke near me (and I make no apology for the language, as it’s exactly what he said) - imagine this in a black country accent, like Noddy Holder or summat - bellows “47 years of age and I’ve never seen us in a bastard cup final...useless wankers” – I wonder what his opinion will be on sacrificing an FA Cup win for relegation? Will he take a year or two in the Championship for an FA Cup win? Course he would. The fact we got relegated from the Premier League had very little to do with the FA Cup (we had rotated our side even for the 6th Round at Everton) but more to do with injuries and making mistakes against a Swansea reserve side in a crucial league match a few days before the cup final. Our relegation from The Championship had nothing to do with the FA Cup either – more to do with bad decisions in hiring players and staff. But Sky, in the face of real competition from the likes of BT Sport, are more desperate than ever to push their products, so any decent opinion from their employees is muffled as the 'Premier League is the best league in the world' jingle is played over and over again, like an annoying ice cream van. With Stelling as the vendor. Don't fall into the trap of believing these people know about football - they're just on to push a dishonest agenda.

I suppose we’re lucky as Latics supporters to be in the strongest position we've been for quite a while now (ridiculous as that sounds seeing as we’re currently 5th in League One) because apart from having more local away trips at decent prices, we have a squad of young, hungry players who care about the club, want to help it to succeed and are ran and managed by young, hungry people who are Wigan Athletic Supporters. And yes – I do include Scotsman Gary Caldwell in that. Why WOULDN’T anyone with a passing interest in Wigan Athletic not be attracted by that? This is something we rarely had in the Premier League, many supporters even didn’t bother going because of the affordably and even perceived bias from the powers-that-be towards the bigger clubs, but we feel the club is ours again, we feel more attached, in what is a more competitive league. We even have two Wiganers in the squad for goodness sake! Yes, of course I want my club to be back in the Premier League again, as it constitutes long-term success and the financial implications alone would secure the future of the club for years to come, but it isn’t (and shouldn’t be) the be-all-and-end-all for clubs and supporters.

But you don’t get it, do you Jeff? Because you’re not a football supporter.

*See, even I have an agenda. But at least I’m honest about it. Buy my book, it’s great.