As you read this message in the year 2036, much of Blackpool vs. Wigan ’16 has passed into the annals of Latics lore. Scarcely has a single game of kickball received quite as much build-up – from the minute this fixture was announced to the moment match ref Stuart Attwell finally tootled on his tin whistle, talk of Bloomfield Road on 30 April was incessant.
And I expect it’s been much the same since, with (admittedly failed) film scripts written and (admittedly shoddy) statues erected in the memory of this portentous occasion. Songs have been sung and folk tales formulated. Documentaries have been screened and promotional pamphlets produced.
But Father Time, as is his wont, has distorted the truth. Thus, dear resident of the future, it is my duty as a time traveller from the year 2016 to overwrite the Chinese whispers that have since passed into factuality. It’s time for an episode of Mythbusting, Latics style.
Bagsy being the one with the moustache!
MYTH: Gary Caldwell claimed Wigan were ‘bigger than the Beatles’ when their allocation of 3,200 tickets sold out within 3½ hours.
TRUTH: Not quite, though he did say they were bigger than Jesus… Was a Wiganer, the small time internet weblog. And he was right – I suspect they could easily have flogged twice as many three times as fast. You hear that, Paul McCarthy? Your sculptures suck!
MYTH: Blackpool FC stated that all Latics fans would be breathalysed upon entry to Bloomfield Road.
TRUTH: There *was* a Tweet that seemed to suggest this, but I think it came from the same source that alleged Yanic Wildschut failed his medical at Wigan. Or maybe the one that suggested Sharpy’s bulldog was favourite to become the next Bolton manager?
MYTH: The match was in danger of abandonment after heavy snowfall the morning of the game.
TRUTH: While it is true that there were wintry showers on Thursday and Friday, the game began beneath warm spring seaside sunshine. And while rain briefly fell during the first half, it was nothing to stop the travelling supporters’ eternal beach ball bounce party.
It takes two to Tangerine
MYTH: Latics completely dominated the game from start to finish.
TRUTH: Simply not a fact – Blackpool were much the better side for the first 45 minutes. Beating even marathon man David ‘Bannister’ Perkins (gasp!) in midfield footraces, the Tangerines created two chances more juicy than a typical portion of Blackpool fish ‘n’ chips.
When Jack Redshaw latched on to a heavily deflected Liam Smith shot, he looked up and realised he was just 8 yards from goal. But a large figure was bearing down upon him like one of those infamous Finnish mountain bears that I certainly didn’t make up just now. Jussi J mightn’t be able to boot goal kicks as far as he used to, but he can still win those 5-metre footraces… as long as they aren’t against Perkins, of course.
As the hosts’ stranglehold increased, the kind-hearted Sam Morsy was even reduced to hugging Blackpool attackers in a bid to prevent them entering his penalty area. And though he (somehow) escaped a booking, he could not avoid being hauled off by his replacement, Mr Yanic Impact-Sub Wildschut. Love will not only tear you apart, but consign you to the subs’ bench, it would seem.
But just as Perkins was legging it back to cover for his now absent sweeper, Redshaw cut in once more. The goal was open, but the angle was slightly difficult and the ball flew into an orange seat.
The Big One
MYTH: Chris McCann’s boots were made of magic.
TRUTH: I’m inclined to believe this one’s true, as C-Mac was instrumental in all four of his side’s goals.
One hour played. Controlling the ball just outside Blackpool’s 18-yard box, McCann swung a leg in the seemingly forlorn hope that a defender’s gracious backside might assist him. And on that 25-foot Beamback television, his strike looked spectacular as the ball nearly burst through Colin Doyle’s flimsy goal netting. Just don’t tell anyone that Tom Aldred’s posterior inadvertently sent it swerving inexorably into the top corner, okay?
For his next trick, McCann would assume possession 35 yards from goal before carrying the ball to the brink of the penalty area. Here, Wildschut was waiting to place the ball just out of Doyle’s reach and convert assist number one for the Big Mac-Man. 2-0 Latics.
‘Christmas’ McCann’s role in the third goal was roughly the same, except this time, Yanic briefly deliberated before smashing that goal netting much as Latics have smashed League One this season. Even Morsy applauded in agreement that his substitution was, on this afternoon, justified.
And though Will Grigg took credit for Wigan’s fourth, Our Chris foreheaded the ball across goal for him to poach. If McCann’s boots are magical, then Wet Willie Grigg’s are surely golden.
MYTH: Despite pre-match fears of pitch invasions, there was not a single sign of such a thing.
TRUTH: Oh, but there was a pitch invasion! Shortly after the third goal, a solitary Blackpool fan in a grey tracksuit jogged serenely across the pitch from one stand to another. It was enough to halt proceedings… but only momentarily, and the match finished on 90 minutes as scheduled.
Your farmers market’s terrified
MYTH: As the game ended, a guy smashed raw eggs on his face and filmed the whole thing.
TRUTH: Don’t be silly! He did that beforehand, of course. Happy Championship, dear readers!