I wasn’t in a great mood yesterday afternoon.
“What? No, go away. I’m still watching the cricket… or at least, footage of men in macs draining a sodden outfield. Blasted northern weather. Sigh, suppose I’d better just accept that the football season, with its relatively tame, sledge-free 90-minute test matches, has begun once again.”
Of course, once I donned my evergreen (well, everblue and white) Wigan Athletic 2005-06 official replica team scarf, all thoughts of ‘that other sport’ were quickly swept away. Washed out, like my lucky sun-damaged 1998-99 season team squad poster, which I daren’t remove from its position on my wall lest Latics’ string of successful seasons be cruelly interrupted. And besides, I think that’s a load bearing poster – my house might crumble brick by brick should I attempt to separate the blue tack from its plaster.
Cue double-page spreads of ‘it can only be the start of the Football League season’ and fervent mashing of my remote control’s teletext button to check who’s injured this week. Nobody, according to BBC Ceefax. But then, it doesn’t say much other than ‘loading page’ in this post-analogue age. Harrumph… next you’ll be telling me they’ve decided to remove the goalkeeper ‘4-step’ rule.
Good Morning Wigan
As 22 men put boot to pristine DW turf, I could just imagine a pair of Smashie and Nicey-type radio hosts extending a lengthy ‘welcommme baaaack’ in their stereotypically nasal tones. I thought about blaming the editor’s choice of closing tune for this week‘s Progress With Unity Podcast, but quickly dismissed the notion when I remembered that my brain plays host to a 24-hour breakfast radio show. Unfortunately it isn’t talk radio, but that’s a story for another blog post.
I can only assume Latics were taking a while to get comfortable in their crunchy new black shorts, as it was Reading that first broke my Harry Enfield daydream. Proud member of the Wide Awake Club Scott Carson cared not for such inconveniences, as evidenced by his ‘acrobatic’ repelling of Edwards’ 9th-minute effort. And just to rebalance the karma quotient, Carsenal’s extra-wide goalpost blocked the visitors’ next attempt. Nick Blackman, a man denied, pulled a funny face to a non-existent television camera.
By the power of imagination, we can now skip forward past some filler football to just before the half hour mark. The eternally hyped Callum McManaman was evoking memories of that one successful FA Cup campaign by trampling a fair few blades of grass –and indeed Reading players– camped on the right flank, and soon, he was to top the Wigan Athletic 2014/15 season goalscoring charts (sponsored by Ceefax) with a goal of his very own. His fondness for the odd chip proved profitable, Federici left helpless by a mini-deflection only detectable by magnifying glass.
This one moment of excitement would elevate this otherwise bitty, disjointed first half to ‘slightly above average’ status. Well, whaddaya expect for a season opener? FA Cup Final heroics?
Only Maloney (dum dum dum doobie doo-wah)
“And if you remain very quiet, you can just about hear the mating call of the lesser-spotted Shaunus Maloneyum: the swish of leg through air culminating in the squeak of leathery boot on ball.”
…So ran my inner monologue to an audience of one as the appearance of Scotland’s number one raised the Hokey Cokey choruses to new heights.
Martyn Waghorn’s departure saw a strengthening of the midfield area, which Latics were quickly losing. You see, The Royals had gained so much momentum that when the equaliser came, the ball was blown over the line by a passing housefly on the search for a discarded chip packet. The scorer? Well, you can’t say it hadn’t been, erm, Cummings… maybe.
Carseman’s super-thick post soon made another spectacular save, with Mr Blackman the disgruntled party once again. He screamed at a non-existent television microphone.
But Reading’s dominance was soon total, for Sean ‘Van’ Morrison had gathered pretty much all the Low-Hanging Fruit. Wait, that *was* a Van Morrison song, wasn’t it? Agh, think I’d better stick to the Cereal Quest references from now on. Anyway, his keepy-uppy skills defeated Carsington for 2-1 Readingland just as the Latics fuel tank spluttered to a near-fatal halt. Pah, shouldn’t have bought that gas-guzzler from eBay.
It took a further 17 minutes for the work experience kid to retrieve some four star from Robin Park ASDA, but he returned just in time to get that old banger chugging again. James McArthur grabbed the wheel and rammed the pedal with so much force that Federici could not (didn’t want to?) stop him – or maybe he thought the final whistle had blown? I, for one, was certain that stoppage time had expired. But nope, Scotland’s number… two(?) netted within 120 seconds of packing up time to save at least some post-match Twitter tooth gnashing. Mostly from me.
The DW Stadium DJ missed a great opportunity to summarise Wigan’s game in his choice of post-match record. As spectators formed an orderly queue at the exits, the track that filled the air was The Verve’s ‘Sonnet’ – it really should have been ‘Lucky Man’.
Oh yeah, we’re back for another season of stupid analogies!
While we’re on the subject of beginnings, what of those five new guys? @EmyrHuws1 seems to have impressed many, but Oriol Riera wins the JWAW newcomer award, if only because he reminds me of those creamy chocolate/vanilla biscuits. He shall receive half a packet of said snackfood as prize, but only if he claims it in the comments within the next ten minutes. Otherwise I’m having them for supper.