Oh, it was never once in doubt. When Wigan Athletic deservedly hit first place in Football League One, there wasn’t a single team powerful enough to wrestle them from their throne.
The 5-1 defeat of Shrewsbury Town on 2 April might have been Latics’ fourth victory in as many games. But it was only the beginning of a new, thrilling run that would carry them to a richly earned championship… and, of course, promote them to the Football League Championship.
Coventry, visiting the DW Stadium off the back of four winless outings, never once threatened to reverse this trend. From the moment a returning Michael Jacobs opened the scoring on 32 minutes, the hosts’ afternoon was as comfortably warm as the springtime sun tanning shirtless revellers in ES2. One Will Grigg brace later, Wigan’s obscene goal difference tally had stretched beyond snapping point.
Relegation threatened Doncaster served up an altogether different challenge, namely that normally offered by underground boxing syndicates. But Latics endured all this hostility – and an early goal against – to preserve their precious unbeaten run this calendar year. Yanic Wildschut hit twice on the break, and Grigg added some late polish to take him top of the league goal scoring charts.
Next came the highly anticipated title bout with Burton Albion in front of a sold out Pirelli Stadium. Latics’ lead atop the table had grown to such an extent that victory here would confirm automatic promotion.
The out of form Brewers just about kept the pace for 50 minutes, but the latest in a long line of Max Power superstrikes shattered what remained of their ailing resolve. When substitute Haris Vuckic doubled Latics’ lead in stoppage time, the month-long party was officially started.
Hangover resulted in a semi-interesting 0-0 draw with Southend back at Stade DeeDub, but the real entertainment was to come the following week at Bloomfield Road. Over 3,000 travelling Latics fans witnessed a club record 8-1 victory over Blackpool, the scoresheet a veritable who’s who of Wigan Athletic in their ‘smashing’ 2015/16 season. Perkins, Morgan, Grigg, Jacobs – you name ‘em, they were all on there.
Hey, what better way to celebrate confirming the League One title?
Which brings us to this afternoon’s thumping 4-1 victory over Barnsley. I never would have thought Wigan could break the 20,000 spectators barrier at the DW Stadium this season, nor would I have believed Jussi Jaaskelainen was capable of scoring a hat-trick. And when Dave Whelan took the stadium mic and burst into a drunken rendition of Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy, well…
Dan Farrimond, 8 May, 2016 Sports Almanac