The last time I queued for Wigan Athletic season tickets, the line stretched almost halfway around the ground to the bridge over the River Dougie.
That year, we turned up an hour and a half early to ensure our perfect seats in the South Stand, and were not really surprised to find about 25 people had beat us to it – the guys at the very front had in fact been camping out since the night before. Hah, wouldn’t it have been funny if they went to all that trouble just for a ticket in the corner of the West Stand?
As for us, we had brought our fishing chairs as we knew we would be there for a good couple of hours. The wait didn’t really drag that much, partly due to the fact we’d brought a newspaper but also the general early morning camaraderie and buzz that increased as the 9 o’ clock opening time drew nearer.
That was Wigan’s first season in the Prem, and officials had reallocated away seating from the East to the smaller North Stand, meaning a whole load of fresh, halfway line seats were now up for grabs.
This season the club are expecting a decrease in season ticket uptake – in some ways a bad thing, but at least it ensured a couple of good-ish seats in the West. They don’t know what they’re missing…
But it did make for a much more sedate affair when unrenewed season tickets went on general sale this Monday morning. 9AM came, and all but a handful of diehards stood proud (probably tired and a day’s holiday leave worse off) as the morning sun cast a long shadow over the ticket office.
At 8.30, the barrier slowly opened, and a club official emerged, enthusiastically announcing to the select group of uglies that braved the rush hour traffic (that’s us) that they would get priority over phone orders. At least our early morning excursion had not been in vain, for we would have first pick of the best seats. There would have been a few whoops from the (small) crowd had they not been so tired.
The shutters went back down, though, and we would have to wait until nine for the office to open. I have to say that the last few minutes dragged, but a few more people arrived to bag themselves a decent spot for 2009/10.
We got ours pretty much bang on 9AM without any hassle or even the need to provide proof of identity, which is a good job because I hadn’t brought any. Well, except for my provisional driving license, but the picture on that is such an abomination I only use it in the direst of emergencies.
This morning, with much anticipation, I made a point of waiting for the postman to arrive just to see if he had brought my ticket yet. Unfortunately he hadn’t, and it’ll be another couple of weeks at least before that precious Wigan Athletic-branded envelope hits my novelty doormat. Fingers crossed, Royal Mail don’t stuff up and I have it in my claw-like grip before Wolves.
By that, I mean I hope the dogs don’t eat it before it arrives.