‘FOOTBALL. Bloody hell.’
Forgive me for borrowing the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, but it best summed up Wigan’s last few days.
One week, Latics fans are pulling their hair out. The next, they’re celebrating one of the most iconic moments in the club’s 80-year existence.
Victory at Everton on Saturday added another glorious chapter into the Wigan Athletic history book, confirming the club’s first ever appearance at the new Wembley and a first ever FA Cup semi-final place.
The draw isn’t easy. Whoever wins in the replay between Millwall and Blackburn will be a tough test – but much easier than the alternative of Man City, Chelsea or Man United.
The last 20 years has seen one of the greatest footballing fairy-tales unfold in this town.
And having reached the Premier League, survived for eight years in the top-flight and made a League Cup final,
Latics now get to play at Wembley for a chance to reach an FA Cup final and claim a guaranteed spot in Europe... while staving off the threat of relegation.
THE unpredictability of sport was hammered home by my colleague Greg Farrimond on Sunday night.
In the office, finishing off the front page of our sister title the Wigan Evening Post, I picked out a picture of Paul Scharner celebrating and typed the headline ‘Wemb-glee’ (get it?).
After showing it to Greg, he shook his head and replied: “If I’d said two months ago, after we’d drawn 1-1 with Bournemouth, that the front page would be about Paul Scharner being back at Wigan and helping them to Wembley, everyone would have thought I was crazy.”
SHAUN Wane reckons Pat Richards is one of Wigan’s top three Australian signings of the last three decades.
Which begs the obvious question, who is one and two?
Comparing players from different eras is tricky, but the biggest problem lies in weighing up a player’s impact against his longevity.
John Ferguson, for example, was a phenomenal winger. But he only played 25 games for the club – little more than a tenth of what Richards, an outstanding winger in his own right, has amassed over more than seven years.
It’s tricky to do.
Thankfully, common-sense ensures that most fans hold Brett Kenny and Brett Dallas in different regard to Mark Bell and Mark Reber, but trying to pick a top three is tough.
So for what it’s worth, my top five – in no particular order and not including PNG-born Queenslander Adrian Lam, one of my all-time favourite players – is: Dallas, Kenny, Ferguson, Trent Barrett and Richards.
Honourable mentions to Gene Miles and Steve Renouf.
THE Australian cricket team has dropped four players after they failed to contribute to a team presentation.
Let’s hope no-one shows them how to operate PowerPoint before the Ashes starts in the summer!