A PROUD Standish family is to renew the honours of leading out Latics ... 50 years on!
John Culshaw, 60, this weekend, was the club’s mascot at Springfield Park for four seasons up to the early 1970s with the then Northern Premier League club on the cusp of being elected to the Football League’s fourth division for the first time in its history.
And this Sunday, his nine-year-old grandson, Connor Culshaw, will lead out Wigan against Chelsea for the start of their eighth season in the Barclays Premier League.
John, a season ticket holder at the DW Stadium, and chairman of Standish St Wilfrid’s Open Age team, admits he won’t know “who will be the prouder - him or me?” when Connor walks out onto the pitch clutching the hand of Captain Gary Caldwell.
And he is delighted that, as the match has been moved because of TV coverage, it won’t clash with his own amateur football commitments and he will be able to sit in the stands to witness Connor’s big day.
John, a warehouseman who lives in Collingwood Street, was born into the lore of Wigan Athletic.
His late mum Lillian, of Freckleton Street, was such a passionate fan that she travelled the length and breadth of the non-league nation - usually by train helped by his late step-father railway man’s travel pass - to support her heroes.
John passed his love of the club onto his daughter, fellow season ticket holder Louise – and that has clearly now rubbed off on her son, Connor. In his day, a mascot was chosen for the season and he would have continued, save for the fact that he was eventually “poached” to play for Wigan Schoolboys – at the age of 13 – managed at the time late Latics legend Jack Sudworth.
John even had his own changing room at the former Springfield Park ... a little box room under the main stand where they kept the balls and goal nets.
He said: “I have showed Connor the pictures of when I was the regular mascot, but we didn’t know if he would ever be able to do it because it is the luck of being drawn out of a hat.
“When I started as a mascot at Latics I was there for every match, home and away but now they change them every week.
“Johnny Ball was the manager at the time and he was great with me, although the last season I did as mascot, was when Allan Brown was player manager.
“It all started because my mother always used to go and watch Wigan Athletic, taking me along as well, home and away.
“Connor is just as keen as I ever was and he has had a season ticket himself for the last three year.
“He can’t wait to do it ... and we can’t wait to see him run out onto the pitch with the players.
“I would talk to the players, run down the tunnel with them, stand in the centre circle while they tossed the coin to decide the ends, then it would be a matter of getting changed again and watch the game.
“I loved every minute of it and I hope Connor ends up with such great memories.”