Anybody watching the BBC News Channel in the past few days can’t have failed to notice a particularly colourful character at the Eastleigh by-election. Ray Hall of the Beer, Baccy and Crumpets Party outperformed the English Democrats, Church of Militant Elvis and even the Monster Raving Loonies, tallying 235 votes on his way to… wait for it… seventh place overall.
What’s all this political nonsense got to do Wigan, you ask? Well, it’s all fairly obvious when you stop to consider the popularity of a specific pastry dish in the borough. I propose we set up a Pies, Beer and Wigan Athletic Party to overthrow Labour’s seemingly cast-iron stronghold at the next general election!
Sadly my home-made flyers for this potentially significant venture didn’t go down too well with inebriated visitors to the inaugural 2012–13 Meet and Greet™ — most of my cheap photocopies ended up floating down the River Dougie never to be retrieved, only nibbled upon by passing wildfowl. Ah well, my last £100 spiralling down the dunny, thoughts naturally turned to football.
You’ve heard of Hammer Time and Fergie Time, but the next big craze is surely Wigan Time. It’s the point in the season that the beast Winnus Athomus awakens to wreak havoc upon all in its path, including the big bullies down the street. Incidentally, they’re like the noisy neighbours only much scarier and with larger teeth than Janet Street-Porter. (And no, I certainly am not referring to any particular Liverpool player with that statement. Go to the next paragraph, quick!)
Actually, this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better – if it does at all. Latics conceded three goals in a nightmarish first half that saw absolutely nothing, but nothing fall their way. It all started with a 2nd minute Stuart Downing goal and went quickly downhill, Suarez doubling the deficit less than a quarter of an hour later.
Liverpool’s third was a tad more fortunate. Suarez’s free kick took a massive deflection off the Wigan wall and landed perfectly in the one spot a flailing Al Habsi could not reach. But it was no more than the visitors deserved – they had exhibited more quality than their hosts at both ends of the pitch.
Not that Wigan were mere passengers, far from it. The half finished equal in terms of chances, and only Pepe Reina prevented the hosts grabbing a deserved goal or three. He first denied Boyce, then Di Santo and Beausejour in spectacular fashion to preserve his side’s clean sheet and keep the all-powerful Scouse bandwagon rolling unblemished.
While a 3-0 half time scoreline did not necessarily flatter the visitors, it was a tad harsh on the hosts, who seemed to struggle with an uncharacteristically average DW surface. There was an increasing unease among the ranks, which came to a head in an unsavoury bust-up between McArthur and Boyce. Wigan were teetering, and the outlook wasn’t about to improve any time soon.
Out of their misery
Latics were put out of their misery shortly after the restart when Suarez completed his hat-trick in style. The remainder of the half –all 40 minutes of it– played out like an exhibition game as Wigan meekly attempted to salvage goal difference, to no effect. Though Espinoza, Alcaraz and McManaman earned themselves game time ahead of next week’s FA Cup showdown with Everton, none made any impact of note – i.e., getting on the scoresheet.
The game fizzled out, but thankfully without any real injury worries for the home side. Gary Caldwell did have an ice pack applied to his knee shortly after Alcaraz replaced him, but I suspect this was only precautionary and he should be fit for the next Premier League game in a couple of weeks’ time. That is, if Martinez decides to select him.
Here’s hoping we can quickly forget this miserable, demoralising evening at the DW Stadium with a better performance next Saturday. Goodness knows, I’m taking steps to do so even now by cutting this post mercifully short. Good night, and please try to enjoy the remainder of the beer festival.
Countdown image edited from source photo ©2013 Channel 4/ITV Studios. Suarez image by Badudoy at Wikimedia Commons (CC3.0)