Latics guest column - Dave Whelan (part II)

Dave Whelan
Dave Whelan

I have to say it’s been great to watch on and see the great job my grandson, David, has done since succeeding me as Wigan Athletic chairman.

He is a very intelligent young lad, and I’ve got to let him do his own thing.

I’ve told him to do what he thinks is right, and if he ever wants any advice, to please ask, and if I can give it then I will.

You can interfere...and I haven’t done that. I have left him alone.

He has struggled a bit at times, because it was new to him.

But I think he has got what it takes to be the chairman of a football club, and run it very, very well.

We’ve had a tough time this year, and we were sorry to lose the manager.

But the football club is what counts, we are representing the town, and we want a successful team.

It didn’t work out with Gary (Caldwell) as manager, and that was a real shame.

Gary was such a nice lad and he was a great player, but managing is very, very different to playing.

It’s amazing how football works.

You’ve not got to have been a great player to be a great manager, and vice versa – it’s very rare that happens.

We all felt sorry for Gary, but the football club has to come first. We had no option but to change managers, and we’re just hoping the new lad is able to do the job.

And I must say he has come over remarkably well.

Warren Joyce is from a place, Manchester United, where he was so highly rated.

Sir Alex Ferguson praised him so much, and said he knows football inside out.

Up to now, what Sir Alex said is coming true, and I’m expecting big things to come from him as manager.

The number one ambition of everyone here is to get back in to the Premier League.

We will always have that to work towards, and I know David is mad, mad keen to get this club back in the Premier League, where we feel we belong.

We had some great seasons in there, and we were so, so unlucky to be relegated in 2013.

If you look at the amount of injuries we had that season – six or seven first-team players for the last six games – it was very tough.

Even in the FA Cup final, we were without five first-team players, and we still managed to beat Manchester City.

Unthinkable, and remarkable.

Unfortunately we lost here to Swansea the Tuesday before the final, and we lost at Arsenal the Tuesday after, and we were down. But the ambition is still there, and we must get back up there.

While the FA Cup was obviously great at the time, it didn’t help us in our fight to stay in the Premier League.

We had to play extra games, extra chances to get injured, and we had to play at Arsenal three days after Wembley – which I thought was most unfair.

We won the cup, and the lads weren’t allowed to celebrate.

How the manager kept them quiet, I don’t know, because I was certainly celebrating!

I am retired from running this football club, of course, to allow my grandson to do it. But I still work every day.

Okay, I only do six or seven hours a day now, instead of 10 or 12 like I used to.

But I still do the Monday to Friday working week, and hopefully watch the football on a Saturday.

I’m still living a full life, and I have to thank Jesus for giving me such good health.

You need good healthy to enjoy yourself when you get older.

You need good health to be able to stay active, and touch wood I’ve been very lucky to have good health all my life.

I can’t imagine retiring completely.

I know a lot of people, when they retire, they get bored, they have nothing to do.

A lot of people have it in their head that they would like to retire. The thing is, when they’ve retired for a month, they’ve had enough.

There’s nothing like working alongside people, doing a good day’s work.

I love it, I enjoy it, and I’d find it very difficult if I couldn’t work.

Looking back on my time at Wigan Athletic, people ask would I do it all over again – and the answer is absolutely yes.

The ground itself cost me something up to £50million to build.

It’s probably cost, I don’t know, £40-50million to get the football club into the Premier League.

And I think it was money very well spent.

Everything I’ve got in life, I owe to football – from when I first signed for Blackburn Rovers, and I was working for 17 and 6 a week, working 48 hours a week.

At Blackburn, I was suddenly getting £5 a week, at the age of 17 – a big difference!

I was unlucky to break my leg in the 1960 FA Cup final, because the following season, the maximum wage of £20 was abolished, and everyone could be paid what clubs wanted to pay them.

Everybody suddenly got a rise of around 50 per cent, but I didn’t of course, because I had a broken leg and I was out of the game for two years.

But that’s football. You play football knowing you will get injured sooner or later.

You’ve got to get back up as soon as you can...and that’s exactly what I did.