Date set for Dave Whelan statue unveiling

Dave Whelan
Dave Whelan

A 7ft bronze statue of Dave Whelan will be unveiled at the DW Stadium on his 80th birthday later this month, Wigan Athletic has announced.

An open invitation has been extended to all residents and supporters with a host of special guests yet to be announced.

No one has seen the finished sculpture yet so we’re all really excited to see it in place outside the stadium

David Sharpe

The statue, designed by renowned sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn, will be unveiled by the former Latics chairman himself.

Current chairman, Mr Whelan’s grandson David Sharpe, said his family will see the statue for the first time on the day.

He said: “No one has seen the finished sculpture yet so we’re all really excited to see it in place outside the stadium.

“We feel it will be a great tribute to him and the legacy which he has created for the town of Wigan and it would be fantastic to see as many supporters as possible down on the day to share what’s going to be a really special moment.”

The bronze likeness will be a one-and-a-half times life sized statue of Mr Whelan parading the FA Cup at Wembley on May 11, 2013.

It will stand on top of a three foot sandstone plinth outside the DW Stadium with foundation works already underway, the club added.

Sculptor and film prop maker Sean Hedges-Quinn is no stranger to being tasked with creating statues of big names from the world of football having been commissioned to form likenesses of England managers Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsey plus Bolton and England legend Nat Lofthouse.

Plans to immortalise Mr Whelan outside the stadium he played such a key role to create were announced last year along with the club naming him as Life President.

He stepped down as chairman in 2015, handing over the reins to his grandson.

Mr Sharpe said at the time: “My grandfather transformed the club forever and I know that every Wigan Athletic supporter appreciates the things he has done for us and will support both of these ideas.

“What my grandfather achieved at Wigan Athletic is beyond the dreams of anyone connected with the club and I feel it is fitting to honour those achievements, firstly with the title of Life President and secondly with a statue which we are planning to erect outside the main entrance of the DW Stadium.”

Mr Whelan, 79, purchased Wigan Athletic in 1995 with the side languishing at the bottom of the old fourth division.

He oversaw the club’s rise to eight years of Premiership football, the historic FA Cup win in 2013 and the move from Springfield Park to the new £30m, and since renamed, JJB Stadium.

Mr Whelan’s 80th birthday and the day of the unveiling is on Thursday November 24.

Earlier this year he donated more than £30,000 for Wigan to have a statue for rugby league legend Billy Boston, which was unveiled outside the Life Centre in September.

The grand unveiling is a free event open to the general public. Supporters are urged to arrive by 1.30pm, with speeches and a live brass band before the actual unveiling by Mr Whelan himself takes place around 2pm.