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[Archived] Rovers 1 Wigan 1

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Monday 3rd April KO 20:00 hours

Nah then, you younger readers may need to bear with me while I have a ramble. I’ve got me pipe and slippers on so sit down with a cuppa and pin your ears back. Have a Werthers Original from that pack, and later on you can trim me corns.

The relegation and promotion battle is a pretty slow process. Three go up and three go down, the clubs ooze through the divisions slowly like slugs through the garden shed floor so in reality nothing changes too fast.

Look at clubs like Sunderland or Crystal Palace. Up and down like a fiddler’s elbow. But generally, they just about find their level.

There are few oddities to this rule. The best one was way back in the 1960s when Northampton Town managed, between 1961 and 1969, to get promoted from division 4 all the way up to division 1 and then get themselves relegated all the way back down again.

Some will also remember Wimbledon going the same route. The club rose up from obscurity to win an FA Cup final, but they are now propping up League One as Milton Keynes Dons

So, onto a brief history of Wigan Athletic FC, a club which has seemingly bucked this trend.

For the sake of clarity in the following:

The Premiership = division 1

The Championship = division 2

Division 1 = division 3

Division 2 = division 4

Up to the mid 1970’s there was no automatic promotion between the old division 4 and the lower leagues. It was organised by a poll from a Football League committee which, if memory serves me correct, kept Hartlepool in the fourth division despite them finishing bottom for season after season. Basically a self-serving, old-boys club which hardly ever sent anyone down, because they could be on the receiving end the next season.

The system was eventually automated in 1977 & Wigan were promoted from the Northern Premier League to the 4th division with Southport going the other way. The club then alternated between divisions 3 and 4 for 20 years. In 1996/1997 they won Division 4 and were promoted to division 3 and got beaten in three play-offs (hey, we can empathise with that.)

At the end of the 2002/2003 season the club got promoted from division 3, after coming top and amassing an incredible 100 points, and just two years later they came second to Sunderland and were promoted to Division 1.

It’s quite a remarkable story. Four years ago the club had never been higher than the third division, yet on 31st October 2005 Wigan were 2nd in division 1.

The transformation is mainly down to two people.

Number one is Dave Whelan who took over the club in 1995. Whelan made his money from the JJB sports goods empire and, in an Uncle Jack-like move, ploughed some of his money into Wigan AFC.

It enabled the club to move to a brand new stadium, leaving behind the Springfield Park site that various Wigan clubs had occupied since 1897, to the JJB Stadium in Robin Park. They should have kept the old name though.

Number two is the current manager Paul Jewel who took over when the club was at the bottom of the division 2. An ex Bradford City & Sheffield Wednesday manager, Jewel is that rare beast in that he is a manager that no-one dislikes. He has the honesty & integrity to admit that his side is outplayed when it is, and avoids becoming a moaning rhino when his team loses. Not only that but he gets by without spending silly amounts of money on useless players.

Now, down to previous meetings between the teams……pretty thin on the ground actually. Wigan have never played a league match at Ewood, so this will be their (and our) first time. They did however play us in the FA Cup on 4th January 1998 when we beat them 4-2 courtesy of an own goal, a couple from Kevin Gallacher and one from Tim Sherwood.

We also played them at the JJB on 17th December 2002 in the Worthington Cup and won 2-0 with goals Andy Cole.

More recently we beat Wigan in the league at the JJB on New Years Eve 3-0. Pederson scored one and Bellamy scored one but everything was outclassed by Stephen Reid’s 25 yard screamer which won MOTD’s goal of the month.

Rovers don’t seem to have any ex Wigan players in the squad but the reverse is full of them. Stephan Henchoz joined them via Liverpool and recent direct transfers include John Filan, Alan Mahon* & David Thompson.

*Late edit, now flushed his career down the pan by moving to the Dingledome.

Perhaps the most significant connection is the aforementioned Dave Whelan. He was a Rovers’ player who joined us in 1953 from Wigan Boys Club and left to join Crewe in 1963, after putting in 87 appearances. In 1960 he played in the F A Cup Final which we lost to Wolves. Apart from him breaking a leg in the match, the game was marred by Derek Dougan putting in a transfer request to Wolves on the eve of the match and some shenanigans over black market tickets. The story is told here on the official Rovers’ site here

And if you really want, you can buy it all on DVD from here

It’s probably narrated by Mr Cholmondeley-Warner and will feature lots of men in flat caps waving rattles.

But I digress, Wigan’s away games read won 8 lost 5 drawn 2. Roberts, Camara & Johansson will the men to watch as they have scored 28 goals between them this season. At the time of writing they are on 46 points in 8th place

It should be an entertaining game.

And to finish: Some fascinating facts about Wigan

Heinz baked beans, along with soups and pasta, are canned at their 55 acre site in Wigan. It churns out 1.34 billion cans of food a year. Joined end to end these cans would possibly go to the moon and back. Then again they might not.

Marks & Spencers started out in Wigan in 1894 when Michael Marks met Thomas Spencer. Their first shop lasted for three years before they expanded elsewhere.

Wallace & Gromit live in Wigan proof

Wigan was once the centre of the Lancashire coalfield - in the late 1800s there were 1,000 pit shafts within five miles of the town centre - Wigan no longer has any collieries. The last pit, Bickershaw, closed in 1992. And we know which vindictive witch put the boot into that one

George Formby was born in Wigan.

Uncle Joe's Mint Balls, have been manufacture in Wigan since 1898. They keep you “All Aglow!” minty balls

Wiganers are sometimes known as ‘Pie Eaters’ but, contrary to popular belief, this has nothing to do with their love of pies. It dates back to a miners’ strike in the 1920’s when Wigan miners were forced back to work before the strike was over. As a result, they were said to have ‘eaten humble pie’ - hence the expression ‘pie eaters

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Edited by colin
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Very entertaining Colin. Wigan got elected to the league in place of Southport having set a record for the number of applications made.

Another "Cup Final". If Hughes sets the Rovers lads up the right way, we should win either 2-0 or 2-1.

Attendance around the 20,000 mark.

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We thrashed Wigan away earlier in the season, so my immediate thought is that we'll do it again at Fortress Ewood. However, we played a knackered Latics side that day, whereas on Monday the they'll be fresh (as fresh as you can be at this point in the season). Most of their game is based upon working hard to close you down, disciplined defending and hitting you on the break with two quick forwards i.e Rovers' worst nightmare when the onus is on us to win wink.gif. Could be a trick one.

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To what extent will the fact that this game is on tv affect the attendance??


Well, to be fair, it will probably deter me from making a 300 mile pilgrimage on a wet Monday night... I'll just shout louder at the telly in the pub.

I think Wigan have shot their bolt for the season now, and this will be the game that finally nails their european ambitions back on the back burner for next season.

3-0 Rovers

Come on!


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We should double the prices of pies in the Darwen end as petty retribution biggrin.gif


And lets open one of the tiny betting kiosks as the only food outlet, and not sell any beer, and constantly run out of pies.

Honestly, I'm not bitter.............. mad.gif

Anyway, a scrappy 3-2 win to the rovers, Bellamy x2 and Gray.

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Excellent preview Colin. Just one slight criticism; you forgot to tell us how far all the beans in the tins would stretch if laid end to end.

OK, I know. You were leaving that one for me to work out! rolleyes.gif

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well good preview colin mate thumbs-up.gif

after the 3-0 pasting we gave them on new years eve at their place and how much we have on the line fighting for 4th place, it will be tense but with hughsey at the helm and our supreme home form we should run out easy victors!!!

3-0 rovers tinykit.gifrover.gif

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Win the midfield battle, Kavanagh tries to do a Tugay, but surrenders possion to much and cant really pass. If we can control this area and not give their front men easy chances or get caught on the break we will walk it. Hope God. Denis Irwin was talking about Camera last year on Irish televison and remarked that he cant shot from his time at Wolves. Lots of pace. Reminds me of Cisse. Anyway 2-0 win for Rovers Bellemy back on the score sheet as an ex-Rover centre half is torn appart. I'd also loke to see Bentley given another go on the right.

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At this stage of the season, all that matters is the three points and I'd settle for a dull 1-0 Rovers victory right now if I had the choice. Wigan have been excellent this season and have done well away from home. I'm sure they'd like to get back at us, after we thrashed them 3-1 earlier in the season. The fact that it is a local derby makes the game even more important for the players and the fans. We didn't play well againt Sunderland and Wigan lost to West Ham in the last minute, so both teams will be looking to improve. Being at home and having such a good record at Ewood, I think we'll win this one.

Rovers 3- Bellamy, Reid, Pedersen

Wigan 1- Roberts

Also, just to confirm, the game is on Sky Sports?

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