The special ‘Meet the Players’ event held at the club shop last Thursday was only supposed to involve Maynor Figueroa and Hendry Thomas, but most of the Latics first team were also there to do some PR stuff.
I kept hearing the media dudes talking to Graham Lovett about Boyce and The Gaffer, plus I sneaked a peak through the DW corner gates and noticed there were some interviews going on in the West Stand. The usual Thursday afternoon media circus, maybe?
Anyway, it was about half an hour after the stated 1PM that Latics’ Honduran twosome appeared. Presumably they’d been inside the Players Lounge/The West Stand Bar doing some telly work – there was plenty of media presence so I think that’s what was going on.
Just before that, however, some autograph hunters managed to collar about half the first team squad including Hugo Rodallega, Victor Moses, Mo Diame, Richard Kingson and Antonio Amaya outside Rigaletto’s. They were pretty quick to scarper, dashing for their cars before the assembled group –including about twenty five schoolkids (pictured above)– outside the club shop noticed and pounced upon them like a pack of wolves.
After Richard Kingson almost ran us over John Terry style, James McCarthy (on orders from some Latics PR bloke) followed us over to the north end of the West Stand to sign a few kids’ programmes and flags.
Onto the main event, as Figs and, erm, Thommo(?) had arrived. After some photographs and some more signatures, both had a go at ‘recreating’ Maynor’s halfway line goal against Stoke outside the club shop. As it was quite a windy day, they had trouble getting the ball to stay still on the concrete surface, but neither had any problems sticking it into a training goal bout 25 metres away. This was despite Maynor’s attempt to put Hendry off by waving in his face just as he went to strike the ball… no wonder he’s currently in the first team ahead of Paul Scharner.
I don’t believe many of the attempts by the other attendees were quite as successful, but then they weren’t Premier League footballers paid to do that. Nevertheless, it seemed Maynor was quite enjoying it, laughing heartily as one poor kid’s effort was so badly skewed it careered off one of the DW guide railings. I’m sure Figs would have signed his blazer or something to make up for it.
It was time for the guys (and girls) from St. John Fisher to leave, but Maynor stayed to unveil a poster commemorating his Stoke goal. Things were quite cramped inside the club shop, but somehow everyone managed to squeeze in – including Hendry Thomas, who busied himself perusing some of the fine merchandise on sale.
After one or two shots for Premier League World, the two disappeared for some more media work, or perhaps some tea. This wasn’t before I politely asked Hendry to sign my shirt and pestered Maynor to autograph my £2 limited edition mini version of the big poster. The quotation reads:
If I tried it 1,000 times it may only come off once. But I’m always looking up, working on my vision, spotting runs. It’s that kind of preparation and training that helped me. — Maynor Figueroa celebrating his 63 yard goal against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium
So yeah, I’d probably say it was worth taking the afternoon to go and see what events were unfolding at the DW that afternoon.
Oh, and one more thing. I managed to catch Gary Caldwell buying stuff at the club shop, which proves the players certainly do not get any of that stuff for free! Or perhaps he was purchasing something for one of the schoolkids…
Maynor and Hendry at the Club Shop (Meet the Players Pt 1)
McCarthy, Moses, Rodallega and more of Figs and Hendry (Meet the Players Pt 2)