Joseph's Goal Walk to Fleetwood brings football family together
'Stand up, if you love Wigan,' went up the chant in the away end at Fleetwood as Latics closed in on promotion to the Championship.
And around 100 fans groaned inside at having to get to their feet.
Because after walking the 32 miles from Wigan’s training ground at Euxton to Highbury Stadium, Fleetwood, the last thing the Joseph’s Goal fundraisers wanted to do was move their weary bodies any more than they had to!
The 4-0 victory for Latics, which secured promotion back to the Championship, was the least these battered and bruised (and blistered) heroes deserved for the efforts.
Starting off in Euxton at 0830 on Friday - when they were waved off by Latics boss Paul Cook, with a £25 donation from his pocket - the walkers embarked on a 20-mile trek to their overnight hotel in Blackpool.
Including Latics chairman David Sharpe, chief executive Jonathan Jackson, FA Cup-winning skipper Emmerson Boyce and Paralympic legend David Clarke, the group chatted and intermingled either side of numerous ‘liquid’ stops in local establishments before arriving at their first destination at teatime.
At 0800 on Saturday, they were joined by Fleetwood Town CEO Steve Curwood, who was their guide in steering them past Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road Stadium, up the famous ‘Golden Mile’, and through Fleetwood to their final destination at Highbury Stadium in time for kick-off.
The sun was beating down on both days, which seemed a godsend at first...but by day two and the long stretch up Blackpool promenade, the only ones celebrating were the local suncream sellers.
Thankfully, the hospitality on arrival at Fleetwood was every bit as warm and welcoming as it had been on departure at Wigan - a real example of the football family coming together for a very worthy cause.
A worthy cause that has benefited to the tune of over £30,000 - and still coming in - which will go towards research into the rare genetic disorder, NKH.
The applause from both sets of fans when little Joseph and his family - and various members of the walk - spoke volumes about how much warmth and affection there is for Wigan’s FA Cup final lucky mascot.
Truly astonishing stuff, and proof again that there is no club - or fanbase - quite like Wigan Athletic.