“Friday night game? Wooh yeah, extended weekend!”
But when King Wozzer emerged from that three-day break, one glimpse of the Daily Fail shot a large wad of chewing gum straight down his oesphagus and right through his colon.
It wouldn’t be so weird for *all* your nearest rivals to win – if you were chasing promotion. But this is the fag end of the table, that part of town where Mr. Coyle* sits swigging glucose drink from a grimy bottle in a brown paper bag. (*Not actually Owen?)
“Nobody wins here, mate! Try spendin’ some o’ that Yanic money, yaaaaagh,” came the drunken cry from a nearby park bench.
Joycey feigned contentment, despite having spent the whole of Monday night attempting to flush that gum through his system. But his unusual choice of legwear – trousers, for the record – betrayed the fact his sweat-moistened shorts were still at the dry cleaners. Nerves + gum + 1,000 litres of water = well, you get the picture.
But fret not, dear reader, for those ‘lucky’ shorts were back in prime condition for yesterday’s ‘Yanic derby’. (Hey, that’s two mentions of the bloke in the opening passage – do I get my free book of Dutch stereotypes now?)
The first half was bookended by pastry drama. Pre-match, many fought bitterly for the final remaining free pasty sample courtesy a certain non-local bakery.
And at the break, yet more complained bitterly that the pantry’s beer and pies had been exhausted by 8.35pm. We certainly won’t be seeing that particular catering company at the DeeDub again for at least… oh, a month or so?
Outside the concourse, a fractious atmosphere was building. The East Stand had already cycled through their extensive repertoire of anti-Yanic rhetoric – I doubt the guy ever received so much attention while actually playing for Wigan Athletic.
It didn’t help that the referee had suddenly decided to award some free kicks. From one set piece, Alex Pritchard pinpointed Nelson Oliveira’s head with such precision that not even the extendable arms of a 14 foot 8 Jakob Haugaard could prevent that much-warranted Norwich opener.
The half time whistle brought more on-field squabbling, probably over why the Canaries weren’t further ahead. Back in the 25th minute, Pinto had rocked the crossbar with the most breathtaking of opportunistic long range efforts, only to see Russell Martin’s follow-up header immediately cancelled by the offside flag.
But having witnessed their side survive the pits of hell, the home faithful were now ready to propel Latics into a 2-1 lead.
The moment Will Grigg replaced a struggling Jimmy Weir, armchair managers Wigan-wide ascended to a state of sweet, sweet catatonia – Wigan Athletic were playing four-four-Joycin’-two. And you know what? Those armchair managers were kinda right all along!
OK, I’m man enough to admit you were right. Now put the teletext back on, will you?
Mickey Jacobs lofted his corner into a gentle breeze, which carried the ball onto the grateful head of a back post-dwelling Sir Omar Bogle. From here, equalisation was a mere formality – chalk this one up to superb positioning and a particularly strong arm (or three).
This terribly satisfying debut goal tipped the East Stand into raucousness, as their intense hatred for one man instantly transformed into a deep love for eleven.
As the much-maligned Panicked Wildshots tripped Callum Connolly a couple of yards from the South Stand penalty area, Bogle began preparing himself for his free kick. In the two minutes it took for Shaun MacDonald to recover from a boot to the head, Bogmaster II systematically psyched out John T Gordon Ruddy with a series of exaggerated deep breaths and glances at the Canaries keeper’s left hand post.
…And you guessed it, the ball was eventually slotted just inside his right hand post. Instant superstardom for Omar B, instant gratification for the sizeable 4-4-2 fan club… of which I am now a member, I must admit.
But there’s always a (missed) catch.
Without wishing to spoil your fun, it must be admitted that a certain goalie was still in a hesitant mood. As Jakob Haugaard totally missed Pritchard’s cross, the testosterone-powered Mitchell Dijks could cushion home his free gift of a goal with great delight. He mightn’t have received a complimentary pre-match pastry, but this more than made up for that.
Norwich initially chased a third, with the counter-attacking Cameron Jerome breaking free to lay up sub Josh Murphy. But taking a lead from the smashtastic Danny Burn, Haugaard certainly did not hesitate to biff this one away.
Then, the winning goal… in my feverish dreams. What actually happened: Buxton’s 6-yard poke goalwards was saved by the almighty super being consisting of Ruddy’s hands and at least seven pairs of limbs. But in my head, the Buxman wheeled away to celebrate probably the hardest-fought victory of Latics’ season so far.
That never actually happened, though – unlike Minitrue or a Singaporean fake news farm, I do not have the power to rewrite the past. And as a result, I don’t think Joycey will be picking up the Daily Fail tomorrow. For one thing, £2 for 24 pages is an absolute ripoff!