The 12th Man Column: God bless you, Bobby
I was lucky enough to witness first hand Bobby Campbell's time as a Wigan Athletic player, he may have only been with us for two seasons but what an impression he made on the club and supporters.
We signed Bobby in September 1986 from Bradford City, as a player for the Bantams Campbell was one of those opponents that you’d love to hate, but at the same time respect and fear.
He was extremely physical, a real barnstorming centre forward that scored goals aplenty. To say his signing was greeted with excitement from me would be an understatement.
I remember an interview with him when he first joined, either in the Post or Observer. He was asked why he’d chosen the Latics over Blackpool who were also in for him at the same time as we were.
His reply was that the Latics supporters gave him most stick when he was an opponent and he liked the passion in the Wigan Athletic fans.
There are a vast array of stories of his escapades on and off the field, mostly humorous, though some are very touching.
He liked a pint and smoked, he was a player the supporters could relate to, he played with his heart on his sleeve and usually the opposition centre half in his back pocket.
During his first season with the club he finished top scorer, player of the year and spearheaded our attack as we reached the FA cup quarter-finals for the first time in our history, plus the inaugural play-offs when we were very unfortunate to lose to Swindon Town.
Bobby Campbell passed away on Tuesday, just eight weeks after his 60th birthday, but he will live on in the hearts and minds of all those who had the pleasure to cross his path.
God bless Bobby.
The mischief-makers have been out in force during the international break creating speculation and unrest around Latics new manager Warren Joyce and the Euxton training camp.
Tales of training ground bust-ups and changes to the coaching staff cannot have helped morale at a time when the new manager was looking to build team spirit and get a positive response from his players after the poor display against Reading.
Latics defender Dan Burn was the subject of an unverified report about a training ground bust-up. The 6ft 7in centre-back was singled out as the scapegoat for the home defeat to Reading by a certain national journalist who suggested the player could be on his way out of the club following a disagreement with Warren Joyce.
The former Fulham defender was reportedly upset after being blamed by Joyce for all three goals in the Reading defeat but it seems unlikely that the manager would blame Burn for all three goals. Of course, the problem with this story is that it was reported by The Sun!
The other unverified report was started by the same journalist and was soon picked up by other newspapers and spread via the Internet and social media. The story was that former Manchester United player Paul Scholes was about to be offered a coaching role with Latics along with United coaches Jimmy Ryan and Paul McGuinness. This would, in turn, lead to the departure of Latics stalwarts Graham Barrow, Joe Parkinson and Peter Atherton.
Scholes hasn’t coached since retiring from the game and doesn’t hold a UEFA Pro Licence coaching badge but this hasn’t stopped the speculation that he might be joining Joyce. Such was the level of interest in Scholes coming to Latics that some fans even suggested that the 42-year-old could still get a game at Wigan.
These types of rumours inevitably have a detrimental effect on the players and coaches at the club and will certainly not have helped the preparations for the game at Barnsley. The Tykes had a good start to the season but are now on a poor run of form, winning only once, losing five and drawing three of their last nine matches. Latics also need to get back to winning ways quickly and a victory at Oakwell could move them out of the bottom three.
It is to be hoped Latics’ plans will not have been too adversely affected by the rumours and speculation and they can get the first win under Warren Joyce tomorrow.
Changes on horizon?
During an international break, you tend to see clubs keeping their ongoings close to their respective chests.
However, if newspaper rumours are anything to go by this international break seems to be anything but a quiet one for Wigan Athletic.
There’s been strong speculation that new manager Warren Joyce has been stamping his authority on the squad, after he witnessed the lowest of the low during the 3-0 home defeat to Reading.
The first piece of news that caught my eye was that Joyce is reportedly – according to one national tabloid – considering bringing in his own backroom staff made up of ex-Manchester United coaches Paul McGuinness and Jimmy Ryan, as well as United legend Paul Scholes on a part-time contract.
I don’t know whether there’s any truth in those rumours, but they definitely excite me.
I’ve been calling for Joyce to bring in his own coaching team since day one, as it will undoubtedly help him earn the respect of the players so he can change their attitude and mentality.
The other story was that Dan Burn’s future at the club could be under scrutiny after an ‘altercation’ with his new boss.
Now, I’m not singling out Burn because that would be unfair.
He isn’t the only player who has under-performed more than once this season.
Having said that, harsh words were needed after the Reading performance.
Some players had to be reminded they were professionals because they were clearly sulking about Gary Caldwell’s departure.
So all of the above could, in fact, be complete lies, but if they aren’t we’re certainly heading in the right direction in my opinion.
Here’s hoping that we come out fighting following the international break and we get a positive result at Barnsley.
A happy hunting ground
So it’s back over the Pennines tomorrow afternoon and a return to Oakwell which has been a happy hunting ground of late for the Latics. Possibly the high point of Owen Coyle’s short tenure came at Barnsley as the relegated FA Cup winners came away from Oakwell with a 4-0 win.
Last season’s match at Barnsley could arguably have been considered a turning point in our season, going into the game Gary Caldwell’s side had failed to win in four games with a damaging defeat to Blackpool in the previous game leaving any thoughts of promotion right at the back of the mind.
Goals from Andy Kellett and Yanic Wildschut saw Latics take all three points and the win over Barnsley was the catalyst for an unbeaten run of 19 games that saw us reach the top of the league and become favourites for promotion. Can this weekend’s match with Barnsley act as a similar catalyst?
Warren Joyce has now had a full two weeks with his team and will hopefully be better prepared to deal with what Barnsley throw at us. There have been positive sounds coming out of training from the senior players over the last week and an acceptance from Stephen Warnock that they let Gary Caldwell down. Whether you agree with that or not hopefully the club can now move forward under Warren Joyce’s tutelage and start to move up the Championship league table.
Joyce can’t expect to be judged on the Reading defeat with so little time with the squad beforehand so hopefully we’ll get more of an insight into how his Wigan Athletic side will line up over the coming months after Saturday’s game.
Interesting sounds came out of the press last week with rumours circulating that Paul Scholes would be named as part of Warren Joyce’s coaching staff.
As of yet those rumours haven’t come to fruition and with a comfortable job with BT Sport and a lack of coaching badges it remains to be seen whether someone like Scholes would even consider taking a job with Latics.
It will come as no surprise that Wigan Athletic were named the cheapest club in the Championship in this year’s BBC Price of Football survey. The most expensive season ticket at Latics cost less than the next cheapest in the league which shows just what good value it is to watch Latics and how lucky we are to have an ownership structure who recognise the need to keep football affordable.
If we can get the on pitch side of things right we can still be in for a decent season.