Tributes have been paid to one of Latics’ most loyal supporters who has died aged 92.
Noel Dean who passed away at his home in Billinge, was the club’s first ever season ticket holder, when they went on sale in 1971.
Married to Eunice, Noel was a leading member of the Wigan Athletic Supporters Club, and travelled home and away to watch the team throughout the Ted Goodier, Harry Lyon, Northern Premier League eras having attended his first game in September 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II.
He was thrilled when the club reached the Football League and rose all the way to the Premier League and he still occasionally attended games until last season as and when his health permitted.
A former pupil of Wigan Grammar School, highly talented Noel graduated to become chief engineer at the BICC Cable Company in Prescot. He travelled extensively with his job and was a nightmare for his PA as he would continually request flights to be arranged around Latics fixtures.
He would often go straight to the game having just flown in from the Far East or the USA and even gave up the opportunity of a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and a visit to the Taj Mahal in order to watch Latics play. After Latics’ historic FA Cup win in 2013, club officials arranged for the cup to be taken to Noel’s home.
Noel’s sisters-in-law, Mollie Lowe and Lilian Atkinson, were also staunch Wigan Athletic fans as their father, Edwin Lowe, had been involved in the group who founded Wigan Athletic in 1932. Eunice, was also a loyal supporter but sadly passed away in 1982 and they transfered that love for the club onto their daughter Kath.
All three became the proud owners of season tickets numbers one, two and three in 1971, the first time they were introduced – at the grand old price of £13 each. Ironically, Noel missed the opening game that season but he did have a decent excuse as he was in Nigeria.
A highly intelligent man who always embraced technology, Noel was also a keen photographer and short-wave radio enthusiast.
A spokesman for the club said: “Noel symbolised everything that was good about Latics, having witnessed first-hand our unique journey from the Cheshire League to the Premier League, then to becoming FA Cup winners and taking part in the UEFA Europa League.
“Throughout his life, Noel was a welcoming ambassador for Wigan Athletic, greeting both home and away supporters with infinite good humour, dignity and humility.”
His daughter Kathryn said: “My dad was a real gent. He was a very positive man with a lovely sense of humour.”