Talking football: Latics supporters deserve fan-fare

Gary Caldwell

Gary Caldwell

1119 – the average number of fans Wigan Athletic have taken to their away games this season (including an horrendous Tuesday night trek to Norwich, which probably accounted for the ‘19’).

Considering the amount of stick Latics fans receive on a regular basis from people who really should know better, it’s worth putting that figure into context.

It’s more than the average of promotion-chasing Brentford (990), one-county club Ipswich (961) and north-west rivals Blackburn (800) and Preston (793), as well as Reading (793), capital-city-club Cardiff (779), Burton (763), QPR (689) and Fulham (527).

So the next time you hear the Latics support referred to, lazily, as ‘tinpot’, there are some hard facts to counter with.

Speaking of attendances, the highest crowd for the midweek Checkatrade Trophy – Freight Rover in old money – was the 2698 that watched Swindon take on Oxford, the lowest ever for a A420 derby.

The crowds at the other end of the spectrum almost beggar belief.

Just 457 at Barnet, 486 at Stevenage, 609 at Grimsby, 686 at Morecambe, 693 at Cambridge and 791 at Colchester.

The common factor in all those games?

A Premier League or Championship Under

-23 team was providing the opposition.

Brilliantly, the total sum of Leicester’s squad numbers (709) against Grimsby was higher than the attendance (609).

The fans have clearly spoken.

Hopefully this time they will be heard.

There was a time that international breaks would see a number of Wigan Athletic players jetting around the globe.

This time round, with new dad Will Grigg making himself unavailable for Northern Ireland, only Welshman Shaun MacDonald is flying the flag.

The Welsh squad will certainly miss the influential Aaron Ramsey, as he fights his way back to full fitness. But his absence has helped MacDonald force his way back into the reckoning after missing the Euros in the summer.

And it’s no more than the recruit from Bournemouth has deserved, having established himself – in the words of Gary Caldwell – as a ‘vital’ member of the Latics side.

Alex Gilbey has been a revelation at Wigan Athletic since his summer signing from Colchester.

And it’s a real shame Latics could be without the 21-year-old until the New Year after he was forced to undergo ankle surgery.

Gary Caldwell had been hoping exploratory surgery would confirm the problem could be managed without the need for a further op. Sadly that wasn’t the case and, although the surgery has been hailed as a ‘success’, he’ll be missed in the engine room judging by his early-season appearances.

As one door closes, another one opens, however, and the return from injury of David Perkins – last season’s Player of the Year – at least underlines the strength in depth at the DW Stadium.

It probably slipped under the national radar, but fair play to Burton Albion for posting a profit of £162,372 for last season – when they won promotion, along with Wigan Athletic, to the Championship.

Far too often we hear about clubs posting losses of truly astronomical proportions and then, thanks to a wealthy benefactor, continuing to go about their business as if nothing’s happened.

Latics themselves paid a high price for trying to do things ‘the right way’ in 2012-13, suffering relegation from the Premier League despite posting an operating profit.

There may be tough times ahead with parachute payments up at the end of this season, but at least the structure in place will mean Wiganers should always have a club to follow.

Which may not be the case for fans up and down the country in the years to come.

What a week to be a Welsh football manager...

First, Newport parted company with Warren Feeney.

Then, Swansea decided to sever ties with Francesco Guidolin.

Finally, Cardiff elected to dispense with the services of Paul Trollope

Hopefully none of my colleagues were trying to contact Wrexham boss Gary Mills, who probably had his phone switched off all week...

Quote of the week has to go to Harry Redknapp, who was unhappy at being involved in the Daily Telegraph’s undercover sting:

“The worst part is when the bill came, the other four scumbags got up and left me with it.”

Triffic stuff!