IT was fitting that Shaun Wane received the single loudest applause when the Challenge Cup was passed down the line on Saturday.
Remember, he went into an appearance at Wembley answering questions about a crisis at the club!
But he’s proved he’s the right man for the job, taking Wigan to top spot last season and Cup glory this.
And he’s done it while overseeing good players lured to the NRL and by enthusiastically promoting homegrown talent (11 club-trained players appeared on Saturday).
Tactically, he got their Cup performance spot on. Kept it tight, kicked well. And don’t let anyone tell you it wasn’t a classic; in those conditions, the backs were never going to be allowed to showcase their skills, and at the end of the day, who cares?
Hull FC know what it’s like to be involved in a classic and lose.
Ask Lee Crooks, and he’d swap his ‘85 defeat for a dour victory any day if he could.
Wigan won, Wane won, and it was a fabulous achievement. They deserve all the praise they get.
Hull weren’t the only ones left feeling short-changed at Wembley.
Journalists and broadcasters were caught unaware when they were kicked out of the ‘mixed zone’ two hours after the full-time whistle, because the stadium stewards had to go home!
Sam had spoken to the BBC on the pitch – he looked annoyed at being asked about his future when he’d just won the Challenge Cup – but, because of a spontaneous trip to see family members shortly after full-time, he and a few others took longer than usual to shower and change.
Which would have been fine, had the scribes not been marched out by men in bright yellow tops! Had I known about the curfew, I’d have interviewed Sam earlier in the dressing room. But I didn’t, so I didn’t. Which is why, you’ll the only quote I managed to catch, was this: “Tetley’s? Is there no lager?”
By a quirk in the fixtures, Warriors face Hull FC on Friday in Super League.
Good job the final wasn’t a draw, or a replay would have been squeezed in, too! Which makes you wonder, isn’t it a bit daft that every round of the Challenge Cup goes to extra time, apart from the final?
I’ve written about the incredible sporting achievements of this town.
How wonderful that Warriors received a standing ovation from so many of the Latics fans on Sunday.
Yes, there are a minority of fans – rugby and football – who don’t like the other. And social media and message boards effectively gives microphones to monkeys, allowing them to have their voices heard no matter how ridiculous or spiteful their views.
But I’ve long said that the majority of people in this town wish their stable-mates the best, even if they’ve no interest in the sport. Shaun Wane summed it up best when he said: “If someone was representing Wigan at tiddlywinks, I’d want them to do well.”
How heartening to see so many share that sentiment.