June 19, 2024
Sand pit Wigan

Now go and relax by Wigan beach, you've earned it.

Sand pit Wigan
Now go and relax by Wigan Beach, you’ve earned it.

“Can they put the seal on it? Jarrett’s cross… Ellington. It would be so appropriate… it is very appropriate. Nathan Ellington scores, and Wigan Athletic are on their way to the Premiership!” — Excitable Sky Sports commentator

On a warm spring evening such as this, I simply couldn’t last a full paragraph without mentioning the match that took place against the very same opponents almost nine years ago to the month. In fact there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t re-live that day through the YouTube video they’ll probably have removed for copyright infringement before it all happens again. The only reason I haven’t spoken about it recently is the FA Cup. Which we won, by the way. Just thought I’d let you know.

Fortunately there was no chance of extra time and penalties today, which was just as well because I couldn’t manage another day like Saturday, at least not for another month or so. But we’ll be okay as long as Rosler isn’t replaced by Steve Bruce for the playoffs, because we’ll have expert spot-kicker Stuart Barlow for any emergency extra time penalties. Wait a minute, what year is this again? Is it 2000, 2001 or 2005? Ack, at some point all those events merged into one.

I would call a halt to the reminiscence but I just remembered that’s what this website’s all about. And while we’re on the subject, does anyone even remember Jesus Seba these days? Please don’t answer that question – I know you do really. He was, of course, a Wiganer.

Back to the fut- erm, present

Ice cream vendor
Ali Al Habsi guards his ice cream at the DW beach. (c)Joao Carlos Medau

I will admit my mind began to drift towards DW (and JJB) spectacles past as the opening half an hour provided a stark reminder of the FA Championship’s ‘grim’ reality. Note the obvious inverted commas, because it was only boring compared to this division’s usual breakneck gasp-a-minute thrillfest.

Only the occasional lukewarm lemon and barley water effort caused Alex McCarthy to even raise an eyebrow from his Summer Holiday Special Edition of the Beano Magazine, and the England U21 international could reach for another scoop of ice cream as Callum McManaman’s strike flew comfortably wide.

But the Reading keeper’s sunbathing session would be cruelly disturbed when Jordi Gomez verily tore his comic book clean in half. Taking one touch to steady himself, the Spaniard almost punched a hole in the netting with a 20-yard left foot Geoff Hurst special to conjure yet more memories of 2005. Hey, and speaking of hat-trick heroes

After a brief break by the water cooler, the increasingly business-like hosts worked hard at increasing their margins. McManaman rose from a ten-minute stint at the electronic typewriter with a redrafted version of James Perch’s through ball, but it was Martyn Waghorn that shook hands on the deal to double Wigan’s money with a short range sidefoot. Hey, this Waghorn bloke really is the new Grant Holt!

Big trouble brewin’

Espinoza sticker
Espinoza learns that someone has pinched his lucky socks. That he was wearing. (c)Panini

Orange-flavoured half time ice lollies only served to supercharge the Latics engine, and that fizzy soft drink zing was exactly the fuel Macca needed. The wannabe England international dropped his shoulder to beat one man before floating a strike off the underside of the bar and over the line for a satisfying goal. Just reward for a dangerous 50 minutes from a water pistol-wielding Callum ‘The Menace’ McManaman.

The returning Roger ‘Messiah‘ Espinoza survived a proper Championship clash with Hope Akpan to continue the rampage right up until his 82nd minute substitution. The magnificent Shaun Maloney also managed over 70 minutes of match form recovery ahead of the four, nay six, ‘cup finals’ to Wembley.

Though Latics endeavoured to increase their advantage, the game was starting to drift further than my mind in those opening 30 minutes. The reeling Royals offered the odd token effort, but Hal Robson-Kanu and Michael Hector’s efforts were repelled with some comfort. The visitors’ first corner, which came in the penultimate minute of normal time, was of little consequence – this contest was decided with under an hour played. In fact, the result was settled over 45 minutes before kickoff, if the pre-match scoreboard was to be believed.

It was the perfect antidote to 120+ minutes of toil, and we got a suntan to boot! By the way, that’s not to be confused with a Wigan tan, which is something else altogether. Please don’t phone in and tell me all about it.

Hey, many more performances like this and a quick weekend by the seaside might be in order. What, our match with Blackpool is at home? Ah well, I guess that man-made sandpit in The Galleries shall suffice. Grab the shovels, Roger.

Second opinion

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