Arsenal Preview. My Dad and his car.

My inspirationally youthful 93 year old Dad has just bought a new car.  So what? You may well ask.  And as predictable as ever Grumpster will say ‘ok then, so what’?

wiganfans_2847091aEnd of Citeh game celebrations.  “We beat Man Citeh with a Jordi goal”

It’s a funny old game, innit? We can play Man City off the Etihad park one week and beat Leeds in a scrap another. We can be winning against Leicester and Yeovil until the 88th minute and then let them equalise.  And then we have to play Arsenal at the home of English Football – the DW Stadium, London.  The DW Stadium London, is named after a certain little pie eating town in the north-west, a football team with no significant supporters and an insignificant old codger who apparently once broke his leg.  The Dave Wembley Stadium, PO Box 1966.   The box number is clearly in honour of the World Cup win in 1966, but rumour has it that Mr Whelan has applied to change the PO Box number to 2013 in memory of another rather spectacular victory in which no goals were disputed.

DSC01779 whelan

“We beat Man Citeh with a Watson goal”  And a crackin’ good goal it was to – placed and timed to perfection.

wembley board

Wigan has always been renowned all over the world for their friendliness, and being disliked by the British media.  Despite that, we still beat them fair and square despite the world telling us that Citeh never want to win against us.


So, we are on that familiar journey down the M6 and probably not the West Coast Line because the FA, in their wisdom and their need to get football to the ‘grass roots’ has scheduled the game so that it finishes after the last train to Wigan departs and children should be in bed.

Already Uwe is planning another tactical master class.  The secret is to confuse the Arsenal scouts by playing appallingly against Leeds; substituting the stars of the day so the game ended in an unconvincing win; playing Coylesque-Pulislike hoof ball at Bolton to secure an undeserved draw; and playing a team of game winning reserves against Millbrawl.  Even I am not going to reveal what will happen against Arsenal at the London DW – but I know.  Roberto used the same strategy pre FA Cup Final …. even though you’d prefer to forget it – do you remember the Swansea at home game?  That was all part of the plan.

UW playeruwe rosler


Ahhhh, I was going to tell you about my Dad’s car.  It’s astonishing really because even though he knows little about football he did record the FA Cup Final for me.

Unlike Arsenal, Wigan has a hard core of players who are familiar with the overwhelming, daunting and threatening DW London atmosphere.  We also know we haven’t got a dog in hells chance of winning, just like we didn’t against Citeh.  Every one told us ‘we’d get stuffed’.  So we are going for nothing more than a good good time, just as we always have.

“We beat Man Citeh with a Perchie goal”.

Ali, as usual, pre kick off will face east and pray.  Boyceeeee will show total confidence in his defensive friends and little confidence in his strikers and will decide to play as a striking full back.  Jordi will control the mid field like Brenda controls the ticket office, with those inch perfect passes of tickets across the counter.  In defence Ivan will be linking up his Kylie Minogue like class act with deft passes to McCarthur’s gazelle like weaving and blistering runs; Callum will just dance, he will ‘Strictly Dance’.  Sir Ben will be there and may even take the penalty.  As you can see we don’t yet have a full team, but I am sworn to secrecy from reliable insider knowledge not to divulge what the others will be up to.  All I can say is that it will be remarkable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNJcd1pTaL0    (click for youtube .. I haven’t a clue how to put it in here yet.  Same with the next one).

Arsenal will dodge; duck, dive and Carloza will fall over in the penalty area in an attempt to get one.  Arsene will flap his arms with greater vigour than that of a swan trying to take off, his droopy anguished mouth will need the support of a scaffolding tower and the furrows in his forehead will be deep enough to plant potatoes.  The ref may or may not send the right person off as McClean hurdles through a crowded defence to slot in a certain goal and is tripped.  Oh, I forgot we’re Wigan.  No one will be sent off and the goal will be disallowed.  And if it looks like we may win there will be 4 minutes (standard) extra time added, as always.  Arsne will be frustrated by “unconverted across goal balls”, a “poorer attitude” than Maria Millers’ towards her MPs expenses scandal and as “little personality” from his team as Andy Murray on an animated day, despite being ‘personality of the year’.  (All quotes from Arsne’s post match interview after the Everton drubbing).


Benet will be on hand to clarify any refereeing ‘incidents’ and Les Bradds Lad will be trying to tame Boyceeunderated, but with little chance!!

The rest of us fans will, as is normal, be on the edge of our seats, biting our finger nails and holding on tight to avoid those frequent moments of near incontinence created by Wigan’s desire to entertain and be seen to be exciting.  We will all have followed our pre match superstitions and routines.  I have found that watching football can bring on dehydration so I shall be visiting Bree Louise for some stunning beer.  Black Pearl will be the first, in honour of Boyceeee.  The Naked Lady is very flowery and hoppy or should that be happy.  Barnett’s ‘Black Force One’ will ensure that what has to happen in defence – happens. For the celebrations of Jordi’s goal  I’m having a ‘Jubalale’.  Because we are, I’ll buy everyone a pint of ‘Hoptomistic’, and then I will be helped to the curry house around the corner and the rest, as they say ‘is history’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80EoQarNn6UmqdefaultCOPC74RL“OMG, OMG, OMG!!!!!”.  We can do it again!!

Oh, my dad’s car.  I’d almost forgotten.  He said to me …. ‘I’ve got a personalised number plate’, which of course I didn’t believe because he’s not so pretentious, not that those that have them are pretentious.  “It’s easy to remember for a 93 year old, look SCO8 WFV”.  I pondered, just as I am sure you and Inspector Koo are doing.

“It’s obvious: SCorer 08 Wigan For Victory”, he said.  He even knew that Sir Ben is number 08!

photo 3

And that is the almost total and absolute truth, especially the last paragraph.


If any one thinks it would be wonderful if the Palestinians could have as much fun as we are lucky enough to have, then please consider signing the attached petition.









You’ve Got To Feel Sorry For ALI!!

You’ve got to feel sorry for Ali …….

…… Even if he does ‘hate Bolton’.  How we know that, I don’t know, and I would have thought that after 4 years he might have got over it.  Even with counselling.  But it’s a great song.

Why do I feel sorry for Ali, well for 2 reasons.  Ali, my wife, just doesn’t get why I get so ‘into’ and excited by Wigan Athletic.  She just can’t understand why, as she perceives it, I can’t get as passionate about other things.  I don’t know why I get so excited with little old Wigan, and I’m sure I do get very excited about other things.  I have a Wigan flag above the bed and a picture of her on my diary.

I feel sorry for Ali because sometimes, except for the second half at Cardiff, he seems so lonely.  Most of the action is happening at the other end.  Then when we score he has no one to celebrate with.  But boy oh boy, that doesn’t stop him celebrating.  His leaps, slides, air punches and general exuberance are often more joyous than those at the other end.  Next time Ali is playing and we score watch him go bonkers.  It’s often the most entertaining part of the game.

But what is it about Wigan that has me so engrossed, or as Ali says ‘obsessed’.  I still remember exactly where I was when we were 3 up in 3 minutes against Everton.  I came very close to crashing the car.  I know exactly how I felt when we beat Arsenal 2 – 1.  Two goals in such quick succession, I assumed that I was listening to a replay of the commentary on the radio.  I remember feeling so hacked off that I didn’t go with my mate to the Manure game, on the basis that there was no point as ‘we’d get stuffed’.  I remember going to the 4 – 0 at half time game against Newcastle and saying to her ‘now you get it don’t you?’ as she turned to me at the 4th goal and said ‘I can’t believe this, there are grown men crying’.  I remember my frustration at that back pass by Figs to Robles against Spurs and I never want to remember the Swansea at home game where we were given it and still we lost.  It’s the elation and the desperation ….the highs and the lows.  My mate and I call it ‘The FGF’ – Feel Good Factor and over an appropriately named beer we give it a FGF rating.

And of course I remember that odd day in May 2013 at 17.03.11

But I still don’t get why everyone hates us so much.  The BBC pundits rarely have good word for us.  Mark Lawrenson would swallow his vomit before he predicted a win.  The referees allowed goal after rotten goal, sent Connor Sammon off after 5 minutes at Old Trafford, allowed Carloza to claim a wrong penalty, didn’t worry about Kone’s foot being stamped on, THAT Blackburn ‘corner’ which was as fair as parents with a joint income of £300000 getting child benefit – as if they need it – that’s another even smarter apartment on the Algarve –  and so it went on.  All we ever heard was ‘it all balances out’.  On that basis we wouldn’t have had a call against us for the last 5 matches.

But why do I do it?  Because I feel sorry for Ali.  Without Wigan I could be a morose old git.  It’s the Wigan ‘friends’ I meet on an occasional basis at the DW or when I go ‘away’.  It’s the elation when Ali dives the wrong way but saves with his trailing foot.  It’s the sense of relief when Boyceeee puts in a defensive block which is more important than a goal and is then voted by the FA to be the BEST block ever.  It’s the atmosphere which swings from desperation to elation when Sir Ben scores.  It’s the excitement of David (apparently with a broken leg) beating goliath.  It’s vibrant, it’s colourful and it’s fun!!  It’s fun: I love the ‘Uwe Rosler doesn’t wear shorts’ song.  I’m sorry Mcmamamamum to the Muppets song never took off and I’m happy that we haven’t got around to the second verse of ‘Uw – we’, the first verse and rhythm are too difficult for me.

I felt so sorry for Ali that she didn’t come on the Empty Seats European Tour to Bruges, that she came to Maribor.  The I didn’t feel sorry for her.  But I felt sorry for Ali, ‘cos the ref wrecked the match and he wasn’t there.

I feel sorry for Ali because she seems to miss out on so much of what I think is good fun, but she could come with me if she didn’t prefer yoga.  I feel sorry for Ali because he didn’t play in the Cup Final or at Etihad, but he had a blinder of a game against Crystal Palace and Cardiff.

I think I’ve changed my mind … I don’t feel sorry for Ali at all.  She chooses not to come with me, and he enjoys his lonesome celebrations.

Look at this and it say’s it all really:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZZC_OjAKJKk

And by the way ………

In our bid to bring the excitement of the kind of things we all love so much about our weekly ventures to watch Wigan, if you feel strongly enough you may be keen to sign the attached AVAAZ petition.  Pinning my colours to the mast, which you may or may not agree with, I think it is wrong that  Israel, which isn’t in Europe is playing in Euro 2016, that it contravenes all the ‘Respect’ and ‘Kick it Out’ campaign principles, is an apartheid state and yet is allowed to come and join us.  It’s as wrong as people taking the mick out of Lord Whelan for having apparently broken his leg!  Does anyone think it right that 2 lads returning from football training are purposefully shot in the feet.  That’s their game over.  If you feel signing this is as important as Wigan winning the FA Cup again – it’d be great if you did it and then forwarded the link to all your like minded friends and put the link on your Face Book page and Twitter account.


You Can’t Trust a Midwife. Match report – Nottingham Forest v Wigan

You Can’t Trust a Midwife ……..

My friend, a midwife, and we all know ‘You Can Trust a Midwife’, is going to sue the NHS. She has done astonishingly well at predicting 3 of Wigan’s wins this season although she did flounder a bit with Brighton and Cardiff. She predicted Nottingham Forest would win 2 -1.

From ‘HeWhoWasn’tThere’ Saturdays game at Nottingham was as good as you’ll see Wigan play, unless you chose to recall a certain insignificant day in May 2013. 11th I think it was.

I had to work, saving lives and I didn’t save any so it was all a waste of time and I should’ve gone.

ST 123g4d567 texted me to say I ‘missed nothing, didn’t see much ‘cos the sun was in my eyes most of the game’. Sounds dreadful, but I still wish I’d gone.

Orrellatic couldn’t go and at 3 -1 I was asked ‘How dare we not go’. Wigan is doing a lot of winning when I don’t go, so I’m taking the credit for this win. Blame me!

OldManFullBackBoyceeeeee who likes to lurk in the wrong penalty box just loves to score; so he did. That gave him plenty of time to lope like a lolloping giraffe back to his own penalty box, which he managed just before the restart. FGF+.

Since Ella was born McCarthur has got his mind back on the job in hand and found out how nice it is to be in the right place at the right time to pick up a well placed deflection and to get that feel good factor (FGF++) to score again, so he did, with a thumper.

The WAG has decided it is time to make his name at Wigan and is making sure he is always included on the team coach, except this WAG is scoring in the right places and we’re getting the FGF(+++). No shopping for heals for this WAG.

Meanwhile Alan Pardew decided to celebrate another goal by head butting 1 of the opponents. My oh my there are some strange people about. Any fan that would have butted another fan – not even a player – would be banned from the ground for 3 years and charged with assault. Alan is fined a penny, after he says sorry. Funny ol’world innit?

But not Jordi, he decides 3 isn’t enough …..JordiScoresWhenHeWants failed with a humdinger from 30 metres early on; but he wanted to score, so he tried again and boyoboy did he score a cracker. Goal of the season from open play; more bend than Peyronie’s disease; top left corner from 30 yards and the ball travelling with swerve and dips, but sadly his positioning of the ball was 2.53 inches too far right, otherwise it would have been perfect. More training Uwe, please. All we are asking for is perfection, not a big ask. (FGF++++). The ball had more spin on it than my top.

As always the “fickle small group of Wigan fans, which has no substantial fan base” sang loud enough to silence the choirs of the Welsh valleys. Uwe came across to thank the 1000 or so followers and all I could do is feel sorry I wasn’t there but enjoy a glass of ‘Flying Rocket’ Real Ale, dedicated to Jordi, knowing my absence was the cause of the victory. FGF. Sorry folks, I’m going to Citeh!!

Why is the midwife suing the NHS? Because she has recently had radiotherapy and since then her predictions have floundered and she thinks the NHS has taken away her special powers!! Can we still ‘Trust a Midwife’? Blame the NHS. It’s getting blamed for most things these days, why not the midwife’s poor form as well?

I was constantly being reminded how good it was and I should have been there. Then they said the midwife was rubbish …….How harsh some friends can be, eh!??

But next time I’m listening to the ever wise words of WhorYa, putting my money on PSG (PSychic Grumps) and following the insider knowledge of Inspector Koo. JockLatic is beginning to sound as if he has a clue as well..

From ‘HeWhoWasn’tThere’ Match Report. Brighton V Wigan

HeWhoWasn’tThere .. Match Report .. Brighton v Wigan

After I called into Bree Louise and had a curry in Drummond street before the FA cup semi final and we won that match I always follow the same superstitious ritual every time I go to London. Ita’s not because I like beer or south Indian curries, I hate them (yeah right). Titanic and Ebony were our winning beers, so I always have them if they are on and then anything else that is appropriate. Dirty Tackle was good but the Plum Porter is the best.

I would have loved to have carried onwards to Brighton, but having been to Iceland to see the lights and then Cardiff to see our gallant march on to Wembley again (soon it’ll get tiresome), I was not given and exit visa for another weekend away. She who must be obeyed!!

The stream that Bucharest had told us would work, wasna’t flowing. The BBC and the txt updates from Orrelllatic were more reliable although I was a bit worried about his mental state when I txtd and asked how much extra time ‘Mc25McMinutes’ was the reply. Even the Championship refs hate us. By the way … where does extra time come from? It just seems as if every time Wigan look as if we might win or they might score … suddenly there is 4 minutes from nowhere added.

Anyway, from reviewer ‘Hewhowasn’there’, the game got off to a promising start. There was a big crowd out in glorious sunshine. Ali who hates Bolton was at his best again, making some fine saves. Uwe, in who we trust, has told the boys to ‘shoot when you get a sight of goal. You never know, it may go in and we may be lucky with a deflection’. So after 20 minutes McCarthur took a thumping shot and the 700 McWigan fans went delirious. Yup, in Who We Trust … it had gone in. The days of passing 743 times until it was in the 6 yard box and then another 23 passes before a shot are nearly over.

Half time came with the standard 2 minutes extra time. As at Cardiff, the travelling fans were letting Lord Whelan and Sir McBen know that they were in town.

Second half to follow …

Brighton started the 2nd half with added determination with ClassActMcRamis controlling the defence and calming the anxieties.

McMaynard had a shot and then we got a corner from which Mcann thumped a McBoyce like header from 20 yards in to the top left corner. The sun was out, McWigan were 2 up and 1 place off the play offs. Things were looking good. Then to liven things up Brighton were gifted a goal. McJordi and McEspi were on defending wave after wave of attack. McAli again imagined he was against Bolton and played a blinder. Of course 10 minutes was extended by 5 just incase the ref could contrive a goal for Brighton.

But it wasn’t to be. McWigan won. McWaghorn looks good.  McAli decided it would look cool to play the game out in slow motion, at times ….. very slow motion, but there is only a limited amount of time you can think about a goal kick!!

And every one was exhausted; worn out by expending so much emotional energy.

All the stats were against us … but there is only 1 stat that counts!!

We’re all in it together, and the Ebony Plum Porter at Bree Louise tasted especially good.

I wish I’d been there!!


Thanks Jordi – Match report, Wigan v Charlton. Sat 1 Feb


The forecast was for drizzle, rain, heavy rain and more rain. I even thought about phoning Norma to ask if the game was going to be postponed. Norma knows everything! Another game in hand could be good.

All but 1 of the chippies in the vicinity of the station have closed down, such are the hard times of austerity (but they can find enough money to waste on HS2; glad someone has got a perspective on priorities, eh?) we live in at present, but the one I found was good, and went well with ‘Cockle Warmer’ from the Swan. And boy did we need our coats, duvet jackets, insulated trousers and cockle warmer to warm our cockles. It was a day when keeping warm was first priority in a now typical Saturday deluge, but this time without the lightening, avoiding hypothermia in the arctic blast was of secondary importance and football seemed least important until the 88th minute.

Stuart held us up in the concourse as he finished his beer, so we missed kick off but got to our seats to see the first goal go in, NOT ours, after 3 minutes. We nearly beat a hasty retreat to the Swan. A sloppy bit of defending helped by a good through pass on a quick counter attack left Ali with no chance. Stuart clearly knew something we didn’t and was keeping an important perspective on his day out.

From there on Charlton did what they had to do. Defended with 10 men. Every time we had an attack they just filled the box up. There was no way through either with Callum’s dancing, McClean’s running at the defence, neat passing and over runs with Jean B. As you can see from the stats we certainly attacked.

Wigan Athletic   Charlton Athletic
68%                   32%
28                       5
On target
7                        2
14                      3
7                         14
Having said that, they did get some good ‘quick break attacks’, with Ali coming into his best again with a couple of good saves, and then 1 off the bar. Phew!!

Another one of our attacks / numerous goal mouth scrambles eventually got to Callum who unleashed a definite, but the bloody cross bar was in the way again. I shall be writing to Uwe to ask if we can get rid of them. They are nothing but a nuisance.

McClean danced and jinxed and charged and ran and wove and stepped over his way through everyone on every occasion heading impressively for goal. Then I remembered a bottle of beer I saw in Sainsbury’s called ‘Tangle Foot’. It’s good beer though!

Maynard is either scared of heading a ball, can’t jump high or is even less fit than I am. His ambling around the park makes me look like Ben Johnson when he wasn’t on drugs.

Boyceee came up for every corner, left defence open for a quick break, but darn well nearly scored on 1 trip south. Anyway why bother with defence when you are going to score, and Boyceeeee knows he’s going to score at every corner. I love his confidence!! Watson’s first corner landed on the Morecambe Town pitch, but after that he worked out the trajectory, wind direction, wind speed and perspective. Once it was all worked out Barnett was 2 inches off target.

Maynard did have a goal disallowed which was apparently an own goal any way but he was supposedly offside. As the guy behind me said, the reffing isn’t biased, it’s just crap! (I then said that we all know that in the Prem its crap AND biased)!

Stuart said we were shite for 88 minutes, which I think is a bit harsh, or maybe the excitement and delirium of the last 2 minutes clouded what preceded it and changed the perspective.

Macamanumunmaummmnun was getting back to his dancing best, and his acceleration from 0 – 60 is quicker than that of Balotelli’s Ferrari. When Callum decides to play …. don’t blink.

As inspirational as ever, Uwe made 3 substitutions. Jordi and Mcscreeeeechen came on and made an instant impact. McSchreech got the ball and screamed off down the right side and suddenly it all looked a lot more promising, even if that first dash screeched to a halt. Maynard went off and MAF came on. Mcscreeech screamed off again and passed it to MAF. The reports said he deftly slotted it into the bottom right corner in the 88th minute. From my perspective it looked like a floundering mis-kick that did a bit more than dribble in. But it went in. Jordi was controlling midfield and sending through his trade mark inch perfect passes. The poor Charlton keeper was tiring, he’d worked hardest of anyone on the pitch, with some fine saves. Then we attacked again, some great work from Jean, and a free kick in the first minute of extra time. Sir Ben and Jordi discussed who was going to take it. Jordi reminded Sir Ben that the game was being played in Wigan and not Charlton so it need more skill than hoof. Ben agreed. Jordi teed the ball up, polished his shoes on just one side to get the right spin, eyed the precise square centimetre of goal mouth it was going to squirm into, measured the wind speed and direction and programmed in to the ball ‘right curving banana’, three steps and KICK …… it had the curve of a boomerang on it (but it didn’t come back), and around the wall it went missing the post by a nanometre, and the poor exhausted goalie missing it after being hidden from it all by the wall. A stunner, and to quote GRUMPSTER “a reet sally wanger” or to translate “more bend than Ronaldo and so better”. We all sang “Jordi Gomez scores when he wants, he scores when he wants”, and thank fully we now all love him. (Remember Reading at home and Everton FA Cup). I actually felt, momentarily, sorry for their keeper from Standard Liege … he’d worked blinkin’ hard, had 28 shots and more hammering towards him, several pinball like bounces of the ball around the penalty area and he’d let 1 goal in by then. He nearly got to that wicked curver. At least he’d been able to keep warm but I’m surprised Ali at the other end wasn’t frozen, I was, and doing a lot more than Ali had to do! Actually I think the only person who could have got close to that shot would have been our very own ALI!
And if you don’t believe me, look at this

For a moment I was disappointed that Sir Ben wasn’t going to take the kick. From exactly the same spot, at exactly the same time, 2 seasons ago, against Hull he scored a corker that curved over the wall and not around it. That day there was no wind and the sun was out, so the conditions just weren’t right for him. Any way 2 seconds later I changed my mind, and I’m glad I did.

From the restart Charlton still attacked, which meant that our only way to ensure survival was for Ali to do perfectly legitimate time wasting. The Sultan of Oman had just tweeted him, and he needed to reply. Don’t you just hate time wasting when the opposition do it? It’s wrong!!

All credit to the 328 Charlton travellers who sang and sang and sang, and at the last gasp the roof fell in on them. It’s an awful feeling, and as Wigan supporters, apart from 1 famous day in May 2013, we know that feeling well.

All those that left early missed a cracking finish and somehow I’d warmed up or had forgotten I was cold and the rain had stopped. For some reason there were 14000 people with a smile on their faces and that is a great sight to see. Thanks Uwe, Ali, LordDave, Mcschreach, Macacacacamamanum, Jamessquared, Sir Ben, JORDI, MAF, Perchie, Jean, Leon and Boyceeeeeeeee. Next time bring on Espi as well.

If you think this is all rubbish, have a look at this and prove me wrong. http://youtu.be/n_vQzshG08M

Wigan’s European Tour – Bruges and Maribor minus Kazan.

The European Tour Minus Kazan.

In about August I completely randomly decided to go to both Bruges and Maribor.  By an astonishing quirk of fate and an amazing coincidence, when I got to both those towns ……… Wigan Athletic happened to be playing football.


Even the P & 0 cross channel ferries had painted their funnels Blue and White for Wigan’s first foray into Europe.???????????????????????????????  The omens were good, the sea state calm and the skies blue.  All Tom Toms and Garvin sat navs were set at 51.2167° N, 3.2333° E.  Soon we’d be in Bruges.

In the main square the Blue and White Army were slowly, bus by bus, plane by plane, train by train, arriving to sample the local ale.  ???????????????????????????????15 flags and banners were draped around the metal railings and the choir was warming their vocal chords.  The melodies and rifts of the sublime and subtle songs that the Wigan lyricists had come up with needed even more practice.

The police were present but unconcerned about the recent immigrants to Bruges. I rather liked that they had ‘Politie’ on their backs or was it just bad spelling and it should have been Politee.bruges WAFCIn fact it looked as if they rather enjoyed the harmonies of the choir.  The Belgium beer, over 123 of them, had to be sampled.  An isolated passing shower (or beer) was quickly followed by a low flying patio chair.  It was midnight and it gave the staff a good excuse to close down as quickly as we were expecting to see our first goal, in 12 hours time.

It was odd, in the context of football to bump into people in Bruges, and so completely out of any other context.  At the top of the Belfry I turned to look at the other view and there was Stuart, last seen at WBA.  I sauntered out of the Picasso museum and I have the unexpected pleasure of a hug from Lorraine.

At 5.00pm we meet in the ‘square’ to be loosely kettled to the stadium, a mere 6 kms away and an hour and quarter walk in the drizzle.  Somehow it didn’t seem to matter and spirits weren’t dampened.  Locals looked from their apartment windows in bemusement but smiling and waving.  It’s all very happy and relaxed.  Still the choir keeps singing.

And still the rain came down.  We arrived at the grey concrete ground.  ???????????????????????????????It’s unspectacular and unstylish, but we were glad to have the hint of where to sit.???????????????????????????????

Ranks of busses from the North West were parked up.  Programmes have sold out and only alcohol free beer is served.  We are searched in a cursory way as if we are about to take a flight to Bruges.  Inside the tempo rises, the choir carries on, and then a mighty roar goes up as the Lords Army comes out.  Lord Whelan with a beaming smile comes to our end and by clapping above his head thanks us all for our efforts.  A nice touch.

It was a good game, but disappointing not to get at least one of those close shots on goal going in. It’s not often preying hawks miss their catch.  We traipsed back in the rain, disappointed but optimistic that things would be ok!!  As we arrived back in the city centre, the rain stopped and the clouds cleared.  ???????????????????????????????There had been a lot of singing and some re-lubrication was essential.

Our waiter was very complimentary of the Wigan supporter’s behaviour.  “You drank plenty of beer; you sang and made a noise but no trouble at all.  Not like the others (a certain N.E. club) who were like animals”.

We’d had a good time.  We said good-bye to new friends expecting to see them in either Kazan or Maribor.

I was tempted to go to Kazan, but darned work gets in the way.  Work, ugh!

For every route there is to get to Maribor, someone from Wigan took it: via London, Manchester, Munich, Frankfurt, Graz, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Venice, Paris, Vienna, Klagenfurt, Budapest and probably even the Serengeti.  Some of these routes started at 8.00 am in Wetherspoons, and why not?  Despite fog only at Heathrow, being delayed 5 hours and 170 flights from London being cancelled we arrived in Zagreb to be welcomed by Joanna who had organised a seamless coach transfer.  Croatian Airlines primed us with good wine and delicious green olive tapenade named, I kid you not, Uwe, (actually it was named Uje, but they spelt it wrong).  DSC02312Sandra, Joanna’s Slovenian helper  introduced us to the quirks of Slovenia including the arrival and confusion of the introduction of roundabouts.

The choir from Bruges were on tour and had finally arrived in Maribor.  The flags were out, all except ‘Empty seats on Tour’.  The square was a lake of Blue and White, and the choir was in good voice.  The ‘Shaun Maloney’ was watched with delight by two 75 year old Mariborians who smiled and laughed.  The pensioners left, turning on a twirl, kicked a leg in the air, laughed and cheered ‘Bravo Bravo’.

The carbon fibre Kevlar covered robo-cop police were not as amused, but there was nothing that was going to amuse them.???????????????????????????????

Slovenian beer was ok, but it was the hot red wine that really touched the places others don’t.  Maribor was cold but a walk to the top of the cable car, some hot wine, a walk around and then missing the down car meant that more hot wine was needed as reward on arrival at the hotel.

With full body armour the police looked as if they were preparing or an invasion of NUFC, Milwall supporters and Colonel Gadafi’s henchmen on a bad day.  A helicopter hovered above using its infra-red cameras.  We pointed at it and chanted ‘Whelan, Whelan, Whelan’.  They didn’t even find that mildly amusing!!

Unlike the Bruges police where our kettling was over about 2 kms, robocops had us snuggled in tightly on the road, and woe betide you if you ventured onto the pavement.  Their ranks were broken when a wonderful Wiganner smiled, walked across the pavement and wrapped his Wigan scarf around a small child who was sitting on a bench watching the whole rigmarole go before her.  She smiled, and then she beamed.  It was a glorious moment.  Her Mum waved.

Excitement flourished as we heard that Jean B, Roger Roger, Jordi were all playing.  We were likely to see real football again.  We entered the ground and were searched as if we were boarding a flight to Baghdad.  The irony is that when Maribor scored their fans set off a flare.  (When we scored …… we didn’t.)

The team played like a team.  Roger trod on every blade of grass.  Jordi was as solid in the attacking midfield role as a Slovenian robo-cop.  Captain McCarthur controlled the crew.  Mcmamamanauamaumn danced around the ball as if he should be with the Royal Ballet and there was a belief that Carson will be ‘England’s number 1’, soon.  Boycee came on and despite being too old played in defence and then in attack, covering his territory like an ageing cheetah in the Serengeti.

The choir was ready to win ‘Clash of the Choirs’.  ‘Uwe doesn’t wear shorts’; ‘Uwe’s Grandad’, ‘Jordi scores when he wants’, ‘U-We’ (stolen from ‘ooo-ahhh’) and of course ‘Boyceeee’ were all sung so they could be heard in the DW.  And it was all wrecked by the Ref.

The game ended and we had to remain in the stadium whilst the Mariborians all went home for cocoa.  The highly protected police assumed we were going to pull the whole stadium down; forty of them lined half of the goal line – that’s about 1 every yard, hiding behind riot shields and wearing full face helmets.  DSC02271We squeezed through the narrow exit from the terraces and had to funnel down the slope to go through a gap the width of a single door.  We’re just lucky there wasn’t an emergency evacuation.

Back to the town, disappointed with the result and ‘gutted’ with the ref.  The pie nd peas, and vegetarian curry in The Living room was delicious, but the mood was subdued.

The European Tour has been a cheerful and fun time.  It gave memories that we’ll live with for ever.  Happy and fed up.  Above all it showed Wiganners in their best possible light.  Fun, cheerful, quick witted and as the hotel receptionist, the owner of the Living Room and a cafe waiter all said ”you have been fun, no trouble”.

What a shame it has come to a premature end.

But even the local Zagrebians were supporting us.



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It was good of you all to send your good wishes to us all and the Wigan boys for our combined visit to Wemberleee.

It was a fantastic day out. It was a real highlight of my outdoor entertainment history. Of course everything is different but it was up there with Glastonbury for fun and friendliness, even though I’ve never been. It was up there with the solo ascent of Annapurna west face I did in one of my dreams. In terms of achievement it was up there with the solo circumnavigation of Mana Island, an island in the Cook Straight in New Zealand in a dangerous southerly with 8 foot waves in our sea kayak; you know how dangerous the Cook Straight can be, don’t you? I’ve heard it referred to as ‘the most dangerous stretch of water in the world’.

And in terms of a football supporter it was the pinnacle of delight.

It was a climax of achievement after seasons of a mix of success and failure, usually the latter but it almost always involved survival, just! Football is a bit like the Mongrel Mob and gang culture. There is so much wrong with it. In fact pretty much everything is wrong with it except that it brings a lot of joy and happiness to a lot of people. I’m sure the reffing is biased. Match fixing maybe rife.  It over pays a stack of ‘up yer arse primadonnas’. It has no morals. It puts a strain on marriages. And if I had any morals to stand by, I’d have nothing to do with it. But millions of us I enjoy it. And I suppose there are some people in gangs who just love fighting and living without morals.

Football, as far as the Wigan players are concerned relies on some very good team work and some intricate and magical dancing with a ball at their feet. This is referred to as skill, and would make a member of the Royal ballet look club footed, with plantar fasciitis. Some (2) of the Wigan players are delightfully aesthetically brilliant at this.

We were on our way to Wembley!


From the fans perspective, whether your team wins or not has nothing to do with what happens on the pitch. It is all to do with BELIEVEING and many superstitions. I always wear the same underpants and don’t wash them through the season. This may sound gross, but it is OK. They just come out of their hermetically sealed package in the basement on match days. Because I shower before and after each game it’s ok. It really is. I won’t tell you here that almost every Wigan game can lead to incontinence, occasionally double, either from desperation, or elation, or relief – sometimes all 3 happening in the same game. I think I’ll start next season with a new pair.

You may remember that near Euston Station is a pub called Bree Louise. I have no idea where the name comes from but ‘Bree’ just seems superfluous to requirements. So the first port of call was a visit to Louise, and I like to think she enjoys my company just as much as I like hers, oh, and the beer. I got lost in Louise’s bosom of beer, and it was delightful.

Evidenced based research has proven that it is possible to suffer extreme dehydration whilst watching the game. As a medic will tell you pre-hydration is a perfectly valid therapy. Putting it simply, it is not worth taking the risk. As you know, I am a loner and a bit of social cripple. Louise is tolerant of that. However, on cup final Saturday she had invited a stack of pale blue ManCiteh supporters. I was outnumbered again, but I was actually amongst a lot of fun and jovial company. Their mickey taking was hilariously relentless and they enjoyed taking photos of me in front of various different pies Louise had conjured up for the day. Wigan is more renowned for its pies than its football!! (However, NOW Wigan is more renowned for its football than its pies).

And now for something completely different!! We left wishing each other good luck, them lot saying we’d need a stack of it; and shaking hands. I left saying that getting to Wemberleeee was our cup, we wouldn’t win, there was no chance of that, but I was going to enjoy myself. All I wanted them to do was allow us one goal in the swathe that they were going to pepper like an AK 47 past us. It was going to be a rugby score.

The problem with beer is that it inadvertently develops an appetite, so a curry was required. I actually mean ‘required’. It worked the previous visit for the semi, so it was sure going to work this time and I know that if I hadn’t had the curry, and we’d have lost I would have felt personally responsible for it. I couldn’t carry that burden. It was a blinkin good south Indian curry. Up in Wigan I always have a pint at the Swan and mushy peas and chips from Ray’s chippy. The latter are of dubious quality but we have won on some occasions when I’ve partaken – so it must work.

I kept humming the Stevie Wonder song ‘There is no superstition’ and then thinking how wrong he was. Now I know the guy is a buffoon. There is superstition, and because of me, we won.

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With a sense of excited anticipation and fearful of humiliation we displayed a false confidence as we took the Waterloo line to Wembley central. Others displayed their belief with greater conviction than I could. Wigan is the laughing stock of the Premiership. The mood was good. Nobody wanted to spoil a ‘once in a life time experience’.

My nerve conduction time seemed to be getting less and less, and my brain activity was increasing but with single issues. I was thinking I was shaking. Maybe I was in the early stages of a Parkinsonian tremor. All this for a game of football!!

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I entered the magnificent and mighty Wemberleeee arena, thousands were already there. Each seat had been given a flag. They fluttered in the sunshine like a new species of butterfly. The Wiganus Winnus Wiganus. It was very pretty.

The teams came out and some glamorous opera singing blond deva felt a need to expose cleavage greater than the local builder’s bum and half a left breast whilst she sang the national anthem. I have no idea why we should save the queen for our gracious team, but the word ‘team’ quite nicely replaces the word ‘queen’ in that drone, and in the circumstances seems a lot more appropriate. She couldn’t save us any way. No one else can.

Many people said that Man Citeh, financed to the hilt by Etihad Airways and whose players on the pitch were valued at £216 million didn’t play well. The truth is that Wigan, who are financed by a wealthy ex footballer who turned to retail after he had his leg broken about 40 years ago in an FA Cup final, played very well and didn’t give the self important self appointing VIPs a chance to get into the game. Wigan’s squad is valued at about £66 million. Ever heard the cliché ‘a level playing field’, the only thing that was level was the pitch itself.

The game has been referred to as one of the best cup finals for many years. The Wigan boys danced and ducked and jinxed their way around the park, frustrating Citeh to a point where they had to resort to fouls and trips. Zabeletta was sent off after a desperate tackle on our ManMcmamamanamamaum. We were unlucky not to get a penalty. But we are Wigan, so there was no chance of that. What did the lip readers think he said?

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Up in the terraces we were playing our part. We sang ‘I’m a believer ‘ time and again; we cheered on our Ivory Coast centre forward Aroune Kone, we sang until we were hoarse. The choir, with less training or rehearsal than the Kings Singers sang with all the style and panache of the Vienna Boys Choir. For once, probably because he was on the world stage the ref wasn’t biased. Maloney hit the cross bar, Macmamamamamum had had serious shots on goal, McCarthy dribbled with greater alacrity than our shower, and our goal keeper Robles had only needed to make one serious save, so he made it look spectacular by diving the wrong way and saving with his trailing foot. RogerROGEREspinOZA, my M O M, dashed and darted around the turf as if he was a Thonpson Gazelle in the Serengeti being chased by a Cheetah.  Paul Scharner who used to be an Austrian but is now a Wiganner showed all his yaers of Austrian experience.  Tevez was silenced and so ineffectual he was substituted. We were feeling more buoyant than the titanic, which we feared we would emulate.

What made all this work so well? The players and Manager may have had something to do with it, but I suspect not. It was all the appropriately named beer consumed before kickoff. ‘Black Cat’ who is our Barbadian defender, Emmerson Boyceeeeeeeee; ‘Black Pearl’ for Arouna Kone our attacker; ‘Dream on’ – that’s obvious; ‘We’re in it together’ for solidarity. See, it all worked. Again, more evidenced based research.

Time kicked on and a goal was slowly looking more likely, but it wasn’t happening. Ben Watson who has played 1 full game in 6 months as he has just returned from breaking his leg came on. Shaun Maloney eyed up another inch perfect precision corner kick. It is only the combination of 2 genii who can place a ball in exactly the right square inch of the Wembley airspace onto someone’s moving head without the help of GPS and a United States military tracking system. The skill and accuracy is greater than that of a sidewinder missile being fired by a massive computer system on a 1 metre square coordinate.

(By the way why were the Euro U21s played in Israel but Jordan are not involved, and at skool I was never told that Israel was in Europe). Another thing about football that confuses me.

We were dreading the possibility of extra time, and worst still penalty shoot outs, and on this occasion the term ‘shoot out’ would almost certainly have been relevant to Wigan and anyway, if they had gone in they would have been disallowed.. The reffing is so biased against us that we only had one penalty all season, against Macclesfield!

The now famous corner came across from Maloney, SIR Ben Watson leapt off his recently healed leg, higher than anyone else and with his head pushed the ball diagonally sideways and backwards. Citeh had as much chance as me crying at Mrs Thatcher’s funeral, and in it went.


The under achieving poorly supported Wigan had scored with 3 minutes to go. The place went hysterically wild, with non consensual hugging with strangers going on all over the place. Screams, cheers, punches in the air, tears and more. The spontaneity of the celebration was overwhelming and left the Citeh supporters as stunned as we were, and even more than the mullet.


Wigan, having little grasp of the concept of playing safe struggled to regain possession after kick off and with only seconds of injury time left decided the game wasn’t yet exciting enough so allowed Citeh to head for goal. Don’t you just love Wigan? Fortunately Robles, our goal keeper , realised the folly of this unwarranted excitement first kicked the ball into orbit, and at the next and last goal kick decided that he needed to tweet his Mum, comb his hair, position the ball 4 times and as if that wasn’t enough time wasting he then posed for a photo for his girlfriend. Eventually the ref, quite unfairly, gave him a yellow card. The kick and the game were over.


Wigan have had a bad season. For all but the first 2 months the team had suffered a dreadful run of very significant injuries, mostly to the key defenders. What use is a bike with no wheels, and just as you get the wheels back you get a double puncture, then you repair them and the gears break. Added to that the cup run has meant that Wigan has had the most fixture congested end of season of any club in the league. By the Arsenal game Wigan had played 3 big games in 10 days. Arsenal had not played a game for 10 days. For a club that has a very small and inexperienced squad 4 injuries is significant. For Manure, Gooners, Citeh, Chelski and the Spurs losing 11 players wouldn’t matter. Again we see that the only level playing field in the prem is at the DW when there is no football being played.  But I’m not bitter!!


When Wigan finally got relegated my friend at work said ‘it was going to happen, Wigan are too small for the prem, they don’t want to lose Newcastle or Sunderland’. He’s right. Don’t let anyone try to convince me that bad reffing calls even themselves out in the end, just like telling a child that ‘it will all come good in the end’; so, so reassuring!! It is as true as saying Tony Bliar was right to invade Iraq. Believe it if you want. But you are wrong. If that theory was right we would have won all of our last 5 games on the basis that we wouldn’t have had 1 call against us, and all the opposing teams’ goals were disallowed.


So there you go, Wigan make history. The first team to win the FA cup and be relegated. The only team on that memorable Saturday to score in the 90th minute. The winning goal scored by a recovered cripple. The crowd partied when they lost to Villa despite being relegated. Evidence based research proves that beer helps win matches. Against all odds and the best efforts of the FA, and the refs – Wigan were in the Prem for 8 consecutive years, which is longer than Newcastle, Sunderland, West Brom, Aston Villa, Fulham, and in fact everybody except Manure, Citeh, Everton, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelski and the Spurs. Not bad I reckon.


So, we won the cup, we got relegated and to my wife’s delight the season is over, in her eyes not soon enough and the inter-season break isn’t long enough. There was a hint in her reply when I said, ‘well, the good news for you is the season is over’, to which the emphatic retort with feeling was ‘Yes, but it’s only a month’. She thinks I’m obsessed and maybe I am, but my defence is that it is a lot less harmful than some obsessions she may have (chocolate) and I experience enjoyment. Before the argument starts I blame it on my aspergers.


However, following Wigan has done nothing for my chronic generalised anxiety disorder, which, on a weekly basis becomes ‘acute – on – chronic’. It has also not improved her CFD – chronic Frustration disorder. What to do?

What to do? I’ll have to work out a more substantial coping strategy for next season, especially as some of the games are in Europe, and even though Israel is not in Europe, I won’t be going to Tel Aviv.

So there you go, I hope that describes a bit about my day out to the ‘Church of the Latic Day Saints’ where the devil incarnate dressed in Black (the ref) wasn’t the usual demon we have become accustomed to. The good Lord was in the Royal Box looking down on Jesus and his disciples. We enjoyed a good sing song. A miracle happened. And the sun shone down onto the righteous for a few minutes at the end.  The Church of the Latic day Saints


So again I am delighted the Olympics were held here. A phenomenal amount of money was wasted on now redundant stadia and the infamous torch relay. But what we did get was another cliché to add to the lexicon. After every medal ceremony the athlete would be asked ‘and how does it feel’. The unpredictable reply was ‘it’s a once in a life time experience’. And so was WIGAN WINNING THE FA CUP._67551421_hi017963958

Sadly that’s where it all ended; the rest, as they say is history, and the tired legs just couldn’t perform another miracle 3 days later at the Club bank rolled by another Middle Eastern Airline … Emirates.

But – lest we forget Wigan 1 Man United 0!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What else will I remember about 11 May 2013?  Returning to Louise to enjoy her beautiful beer.  I walked in and was confronted with an ocean of pale blue.  In fear of my life I was about to turn tale and leg it, faster than Beasajour could run down the spine of Patagonia.  There was no need.  Simply for supporting Wigan and beating MCFC to win the FA Cup we got a standing ovation.  Even the policeman at Coventry railways station was more positive than Roberto is when he takes the positives.  Thanks Folks.