July 15, 2024


Spring cleaning over, Latics’ transfer window washing machine is rolled back into storage. (c)Library

Electricians and plumbers the length and breadth of Wigan Borough can finally rest easy, for Latics’ overworked transfer window washing machine has now been shoved to the back of the garage for a well-earned rest. In the past few months, 24 pairs of blue and white socks have been fed into its welcoming mouth only to be spat out in a variety of colours representing various clubs on all seven continents. Yes, even Antarctica – Marc-Antoine Fortune is falling over for the Ross Ice Shelf Pirates now. (Yeah, I know he’s at Cov really.)

More recent newcomers have been forced to ‘borrow’ their socks from a large cupboard buried deep within the DW catacombs, which can be accessed via a secret passage in the shower room. It is a long and arduous task to retrieve them, but one must do so in order to be deemed worthy of wearing them at 3.00pm of a Saturday.

Such initiation rites are wholly necessary – with the Latics squad now totalling 406, competition is fiercer than the unspeakable beasts that dwell beneath the DW… and for once, we’re not talking about Grant Holt.

The Chesterfield Quest

The Robin Park Marshbeast rests beneath the West Stand. Do not speak or
The Robin Park Marshbeast rests beneath the West Stand. Do not move a muscle or he shall awake…

Owing to Will Grigg’s international duties, winner-by-default Haris Vuckic (pronounced ‘Arry Fudge-Kitsch) faced a new quest: slaying The Chesterfield Spireites. A Spireite is much like a dragon, only with a chest the size of a field… if the Viz Guide to Mythical Beasts is to be believed. Which it probably isn’t, because there is no mention of the living brick wall that is Holtmonster of Legend.

…Okay, I’ll stop hyping his return now.

First into the dungeon, however, was the stocky defence. Richard O’Donnell fended off one blind side vampire bat attack – namely an Ian Evatt header – for Donervon Daniels to dispatch with great relish. Shortly after, selfsame Montserratian benefited from ref Mark Brown’s questionable application of the advantage ‘law’ – do you award a free kick where the offence started, or a penalty where it ended? Brown opted for the former, sparing Latics a stint in the tomato-pelting stocks.

Perhaps buoyed by this stroke of good fortune, the visitors confidently indulged in a few hack ‘n’ slash attempts of their own. Following a swift Vuckic sighter, Craig Davies launched a moderately salacious chip… into keeper Tommy Lee’s fist. Undeterred, the former Chesterfield striker also charged up a booming free kick… right into the stomach of an unfortunate wall man. Auxiliary striker Daniels performed a Ceefax-style swoop to dink the ball home when nobody was looking, but this, too, was ultimately prizeless.

Suddenly, in first half stoppage time, extreme action! Vuckic crosses, Jacobs shoots, Lee saves… Chesterfield break, Novak hits wide. A whole half’s activity condensed into one particularly strong sugar cube that not even the most sweet-toothed of race horses could stomach. Hence, no goals at half time. But just you wait…

Half time teaser: “Pro whacked stayed here, mmm?”

The hosts set in motion their Trojan horse, excising one block from Leon Barnett and one unintended facial clearance from an unnamed member of the Chesterfield ranks. It really was rather painful, especially since his own ‘team-mate’ delivered the blow.

As if to administer immediate medical aid, Dan Gardner served up one bootlace banana ball that sent O’Donnell sprawling like a startled tarantula. A brief glimpse behind revealed that this time, the ball had indeed settled sweetly inside his netting. He daren’t look forward again, since that aforementioned Trojan horse was on its way…

Trojan horse
“Calds, we’re never gonna fit all 402 of our squad members in ‘ere!” “Tell ’em to walk it, then…”

But oddly enough, Leon Barnett was now driving the wooden war machine. It was he that headed past O’Donnell – yes, his own goalkeeper – before performing a not-very-precise three point turn, chewing up acres of Proact Stadium turf in the process. The initial reward was an 82nd minute goal for… err, second auxiliary striker Barnett, but the longer term reward was much greater.

Chris McCann, who had earlier replaced Sir Arry Vuckic, resolved to even up the penalty count in a trice. With that formidable Trojan horse now trampling Chesterfield defenders, it was a simple task for Craig Davies to convert the spot kick… and amazingly, ultimate victory was just beyond the horizon.

Their confidence decimated, the Spireites were powerless to prevent second sub Jordy Hiwula poking home third sub Andy Kellett’s cross with but seconds of normal time remaining. It was a goal manufactured and sent to market in transfer deadline week, the culmination of thirty minutes’ seemingly random, but very effective, sword swinging.

Ah, all that sparring with the Holtmaster has prepared them well, it would seem!

Second opinion

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