Talking Sport - Champions in more ways than one

Phil Wilkinson

Phil Wilkinson

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ATHLETES get a bad press in some quarters.

Depending who you listen to or what paper you read, you could easily think rugby league players are neanderthals, footballers use £50 notes as toilet roll, and both are detached from the real world.

It’s a load of rubbish, of course.

Unfortunately for the vast majority, they are painted with a stereotype fueled by a tiny minority.

And for any evidence of that, you only need to look at the efforts they make for charity.

Owen Farrell’s Joining Jack salute gained the charity national exposure. Sam Tomkins and Pat Richards are spreading the word in the NRL.

And last Saturday, at a dinner for Joseph’s Goal, there were stories of sportsmen going above and beyond for a good cause.

Like Sean O’Loughlin putting on a wristband in the minutes between winning a Challenge Cup Final and lifting the trophy... and later donating his boots.

There were similar examples with Latics, and a touching moment when Emmerson Boyce beat all-comers to buy a top belonging to Wigan’s international blind footballer David Clarke. All spent time chatting to fans and having pictures taken. Great gestures by good people.

ALL of Latics’ squad deserves special praise for the way they have mounted this play-off charge.

To have made the ground they have under Uwe Rosler is absolutely fantastic and something the German deserves huge credit for.

For me though, one man who never fails to surprise people and get better is Boyce.

He has been Mr Consistent for Wigan this year and has played an awful lot of football. Most people tell you that footballers slow down as they hit their mid-thirties but Boyce has done anything but.

At 34 years old he’s been an absolute rock at the back for Wigan all season and has been pivotal to their success in both the league and cup.

One thing that stands out above most though is his overwhelming passion for the club. He loves it.

You often hear how footballers don’t care and are only in it for money.

But Boyce is living, breathing proof that proper clubmen are still around.

THERE really is no pleasing some people.

Last week, daring to attempt some decorating, I heard a group of staff in a DIY shop explain why there was “no way on earth” Wigan could beat Warrington. On Friday morning, I was back in the shop after discovering the hard way that One Coat paint needs more than one coat, and the same fellas were talking about the previous night’s win.

Their moans included: Wigan bombed a couple of chances, it wasn’t a classic game and Warrington were poor.

All three are valid points, of course.

But had they been offered a gutsy 12-4 win at the HJ – a venue they have struggled at – beforehand they would all have taken it.

It seemed once the joy of winning had subsided, it was immediately replaced with pessimism and criticism. You probably know people who do the same. Why can’t they just enjoy it?