The amazing efforts to save Wigan Athletic
When the Wigan Athletic Supporters Club last week set a fundraising target of £500,000 in five days to ‘Save the Club’, it was obviously never going to happen.
Nope, four days was more than enough to hit the half a million mark – thanks to a truly incredible effort from Latics supporters, players, past players...and plenty of non-Wiganers too.
Take Zach, the ‘utility man at North Ferriby FC’, who was so taken by the cause that he pledged all his tips from working at their game on Saturday.
More than £50 into the pot, leading to Wiganers showering him with gratitude, Zach becoming an honorary ‘Tic’... and even buying a replica shirt from the club shop to show his new colours.
Or Liverpool supporter Alex Rigby, who pledged £5,000 on behalf of a Latics fan no longer with us.
“Brilliant effort by this club’s supporters to safeguard the club’s future,” he messaged. “Dad, I know you’re up there watching... I’ll donate on your behalf.”
Closer to home, how about five-year-old Ollie Cooper, who biked it from his home in Standish to the DW Stadium in the hope of raising £50.
The total raised is already through the £1,000 mark.
Indeed, Ollie arrived at the DW just as another group were completing their own challenge, 100 laps around the stadium – a whopping 40 miles in total.
An effort which has already raised four times the initial target of £500.
How about another young hero, Nathan Bullock, whose efforts would have brought tears to even a glass eye.
“Hi,” he messaged the Supporters Club. “I have given all my pocket money I have saved from cleaning mum’s car, my Christmas money and the money I saved to buy FIFA21. My dad, Chris has given the rest.
“Hopefully, we can fight on and stay as a club that would mean a lot and the world for me. I love Wigan Athletic more than anything. We can do this UP THE TICS.”
A copy of the game is already on its way to Nathan courtesy of the makers, along with the thanks of a football club and community that dared to ‘Believe’.
Which nicely brings us on to Roberto Martinez, who coined the club motto – and whose message to the fans over the weekend sparked a huge spike in fundraising.
“Since the first time I arrived at Wigan Athletic in 1995, the club has held such a special place in my heart,” the Spaniard acknowledged.
“It has been a part of my family, and like all supporters I have been shocked at the struggles this year.
“But I have so many memories of what we can achieve in times of adversity.
"From great escapes to our FA Cup win in 2013, I know the spirit of our amazing club and I know what amazing things we can achieve when we come together.
“The SAVE OUR CLUB campaign is yet another example of what the Wigan public can do. I am proud to have pledged to support the campaign.
“Please share the message and together I know that we can help Wigan Athletic survive, and create even more memories in the years to come. Believe more than ever. Sin Miedo. Roberto.”
Martinez also pledged £5,000 – one of dozens of donations from players and managers, past and present, who recognise their debt to a club that helped them on their own personal journey.
In no particular order...Joe Gelhardt, Joe Williams, Chey Dunkley, James McClean, Callum McManaman, Sam Morsy, Kal Naismith, Kieran Dowell, Joel Robles, Cedric Kipre, Jordan Flores, Antonee Robinson, Tom Pearce, Leon Balogun, Jamal Lowe, Gregor Rioch, Jonas Olsson, Daniel Gyollai, Roger Espinoza, Jack Sanders, David Sharpe, Bill Kenyon, Dujon Sterling, Christian Walton, Scott Smith, Gary Roberts, Lee Evans, Stephen Warnock, Kevin Sharp, Barry Knowles, Olly Crankshaw, Charlie Jolley, Yanic Wildschut, Joe Piggott, Kyle Joseph, Emeka Obi, Bobby Jones, Patrick Webber, MacKenzie O’Neill, Chris Merrie, Thelo Aasgaard, Luke Robinson, Callum Lang, Owen Evans, Gavin Massey, Alfie Devine, Jensen Weir.
Not forgetting Reece James, whose social media plea for support was shared by several Chelsea and England colleagues including Mason Mount, meaning exposure to millions of people, many of whom were quick to get involved.
Last but certainly not least, step forward Jamie Jones, the Latics goalkeeper who gave away his League One title-winning medal which raised more than £5,000 for the appeal.
Won by a fan who immediately handed the memento back to Jones, who earned it on the field, and showed by his gesture he’s also a champion off the field.
Special efforts from special people in aid of a special football club that’s done so much for so many, but which now unfortunately needs that support to be paid back.
To hopefully ensure another 88 years of memories can be enjoyed by our children and grandchildren.
It’s a response that’s bowled over – but not surprised – a Supporters Club that was quick to set a second target... to try to ensure an even more central part in the future of the club, however that will take shape.
“Never underestimate the supporters of Wigan Athletic,” read a statement.
“Little more than four days after launching the SAVE OUR CLUB campaign, you’ve already reached £500,000.
“Now, thanks to your inspiring response, we believe that we could push our campaign even further.
“With every extra pound raised our voice can only get stronger.
“For that reason our campaign will continue with the hopeful aim of reaching £750,000 by Friday 4th September.
“If our second target can be reached, then who knows how far we could go!
“Over the past week we are so pleased to have played a part in galvanising our fellow fans at a time when many of us were at our lowest point.
“We are so proud of the way in which Wigan Athletic supporters – and football supporters across the country – have come together to turn our situation around and ensure that a club in the heart of its community CAN NOT DIE.
“We absolutely believe our club will be stronger when our supporters work together to safeguard its future. So please let’s continue to pledge, continue to share, continue to spread the word, and be assured that your Supporters Club will continue to give everything we can to harness your passion and secure the best possible position for Latics fans… and the best possible future for Wigan Athletic.
“Once again THANK YOU so much for your support, and thank you for your help to SAVE OUR CLUB.
“WE are Wigan.”
Indeed we are – through thick and through thin.