'One of the best experiences of my life': Wigan Today staff share their memories of covering Latics' FA Cup win

Wigan Athletic’s trip to Wembley for the FA Cup final is a day that still shines bright for many fans – but also for the journalists who covered the momentous occasion.
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We sent a team of writers and photographers to London to report on every part of the day for the Wigan Observer, Wigan Post and Wigan Today.

They worked tirelessly to make sure Latics fans – both at the final and watching at home in Wigan – did not miss any piece of the action.

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It was a mammoth task and a day that the whole team still remembers fondly 10 years later.

Nick Fairhurst, Janet Wilson, James Illingworth, Greg Farrimond and Michelle Adamson at WembleyNick Fairhurst, Janet Wilson, James Illingworth, Greg Farrimond and Michelle Adamson at Wembley
Nick Fairhurst, Janet Wilson, James Illingworth, Greg Farrimond and Michelle Adamson at Wembley

Here, staff members past and present share their memories of Latics’ trip to Wembley.

Janet Wilson (former editor)

As we walked up Wembley Way on that momentous day in May 2013, my husband and I bumped into a sports journalist who worked on a well-known paper.

I asked what he thought the score would be and he laughed and said he thought Latics would do well to keep City to single figures.

Dave WhelanDave Whelan
Dave Whelan

“Just enjoy the occasion,” he said.

Oh how we did!

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So many happy memories but the most overriding was one of absolute joy which lasted for many days after the final.

I’m not sure as a town we’ll ever see such scenes again but none of us will ever forget that day.

The club’s victory made headlines across the world, Ben Watson became a household name.

Life has been tough for Latics fans since then, but to borrow a quote from Casablanca: “We’ll always have Wembley."

Charles Graham (current editor)

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Of the many regrets of my life, failing to accept an invitation to see Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup final must go down as one of the biggest.

Instead I watched at home and, when Wigan scored in the 91st minute, ran into the street whooping at the top of my voice. Most unbecoming.

While jubilation at the goal and subsequent victory were uppermost in my thoughts, I also cast my mind back 48 hours.

My young son and I were attending Wigan Youth Zone’s opening and, after the grand tour, Dave Whelan came to sit with us for pie and peas.

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We talked about his club’s prospects and he was cautiously optimistic.

Reflecting on recent form which had seen Latics repeatedly squander early leads, I said: “The last thing they should do is score early. Far better to keep it goalless and then strike in the last minute."

Needless to say I texted him a reminder of that rare prophecy after the final whistle.

Phil Wilkinson (former sports editor)

When it comes to punching well above its weight in sport, Wigan has plenty of previous.

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And never was this more evident than when Latics won the FA Cup Final in 2013.

"Believe” the catchphrase of the year and yet Wigan Athletic pulled off the unbelievable.

Of course, nothing is ever dull with Latics, and just days later – on the Tuesday night – they had a league game at Arsenal which they had to win to avoid relegation.

At first, everyone at the Wigan Observer thought this would present a problem; the Observer was published Tuesday afternoon.

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But in reality, it became a blessing; while other titles quickly moved on from the FA Cup triumph and switched their focus to their league campaign, the Observer had the chance to give the FA Cup win the saturation coverage it absolutely deserved.

It was an honour to document one of the most unforgettable days in the incredible history of our crazy town!

Greg Farrimond (former reporter)

In many ways, the whole day of the final was a blur.

I remember being a little gutted I had to work for the game; this was a once in a lifetime experience and I'd wanted to spend it with family and friends.

But how wrong I was... plus I did manage a sneaky beer or four pre-game as I visited The Torch (the pub Wiganers made their own in 2013-14) to “write my colour piece”.

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Proper, old-fashioned journalism my great mate Richard Bean would describe that. Not that he’d know what an FA Cup final is, being a Port Vale fan.

What followed was incredible and the magic began when Joseph Kendrick was carried out as mascot by the formidable Emmerson Boyce.

I honestly can't remember much of the game, I was a wreck while typing away but the jubilation of the goal going in was something else, as were the scenes in the tunnel after the game.

I'll forever feel truly privileged to have experienced that.

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Wigan town's greatest day. With the current goings on it feels like so long ago but if we all live to 100, the memories of that goal and those celebrations will be as vivid as ever.

James Illingworth (former reporter)

One of the best experiences of my life.

There are a few moments that I can picture vividly; sitting at breakfast in the hotel with a nervous Greg Farrimond, thinking: “We’ve got another eight hours until kick-off here, how’s he going to cope?"

Darting between fans on Wembley Way, interviewing and soaking up the atmosphere is another highlight.

I don’t think any of us watched the first 10 minutes without dabbing our eyes after Emmerson Boyce emerged from the tunnel with Joseph Kendrick.

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A few moments in the game stick out. The Robles save from Tevez, McManaman marauding.

If I have one regret, it’s that I can’t picture the Watson header. I don’t think I saw it. I remember the ball leaving Maloney’s foot. Then a swift elbow from a colleague (probably Farrimond’s, possibly Kendrick’s) caught me in the face.

Then I can just remember noise. Bouncing around, chaos. The press box an extension of the Latics end.

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