CHARLES GRAHAM - Town should be proud of its show of support

WHAT a proud day to be a Wigan Athletic supporter.

And what a privilege to be involved in the local newspaper at the very moment that the local team gets to the FA Cup Final for the first time in this world-famous tournament’s long history.

The thousands who made the pilgrimage to London were rewarded for their hope and loyalty with a terrific performance from Roberto Martinez’s men who seem to make history every time they go out on the pitch.

And after these FA Cup heroics I am sure that the number of supporters it attracts both locally and far beyond will grow further.

Not that it should really be needed, but that would be another in the eye for those in the national press and on TV who still continue to make barbed remarks about Wigan really being a rugby town and drawing the smallest crowds in the Premier League.

Well Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, and I was pleased to see the likes of Kenny Dalglish throwing his weight behind the club and its fans.

He reminded folk this week that Latics were only accepted into the professional ranks less than 40 years ago, that the town of Wigan itself only has a population of 81,000 and that being surrounded by so many large and well-established North West clubs, many local folk will have already pinned their loyalties to another mast before realising what was materialising on their own doorsteps.

So it is our young people, who do not have these historical allegiences, from which the club’s growing fan base will come but it won’t all happen at once. Neither is there any sensible reason why youngsters shouldn’t grow up appreciating the wonders of both football and rugby league equally.

By the way, I was also pleased to see another national news commentator pointing out that some of those critics of Wigan’s supposedly small fan base were from “big clubs” who hadn’t respected the FA Cup enough to put out their first team and would now be completing the season without the chance of a trophy.

Wigan, however, did show the cup that respect and can still live the dream. I can’t wait for May 11.