Leam junior predicted Wigan Athletic title success!

Wigan Athletic's League One title success was never in any doubt.

By Paul Kendrick
Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 3:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 3:45 pm

In fact, it was called two years ago...by young Jeorge Richardson, son of Latics boss Leam, shortly after the club was placed into administration in the summer of 2020.

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"I've got to say this, and my little lad just reminded me, this is a true story," said Richardson senior, shortly after watching skipper Tendayi Darikwa lift the trophy at Shrewsbury on Saturday.

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Leam Richardson and his proud family

"When I came home after we heard we'd gone into administration, it was hard, it was heartbreaking as everything was unfolding.

"Jeorge just looked at me and said: 'Why are you so upset?'

"I told him we'd gone into administration, and half-explained to him what it meant to us.

"Straight away, he replied: 'It doesn't matter, because when you go into League One, they give you a trophy at the end of the season, and you end up back in the Championship anyway...'

"He thinks this happens every year, and when we were going up for the trophy, he looked at me and said: 'I told you!'

"It was so very innocent, but lovely at the same time.

"He thinks this happens every year, and fingers crossed we can carry on!"

While others opined about which side was the best in League One, the Latics group kept their counsel until silverware was in hand.

Despite being in prime position to laud his side's achievement, Richardson remains humble in victory.

"I'd never feel the need to come out and say it," he said. "After 46 games, the league table never lies.

"We've had our own challenges this year, we don't need to be bringing in any more challenges.

"Everything we've had to deal with, we've dealt with professionally and as a collective."

Is there a secret?

"Good people, and hard-working people," he replied. "You get good quality people who are prepared to put the work in, you've got half a chance.

"We've got a fantastic group of players, supported by a fantastic group of staff, and a fantastic ownership network.

"The fans are the reason we do what we do, and I'm so pleased we've been able to reward them for their support over the last couple of years especially.

"They missed their football club last season, and they came close to losing it altogether.

"It was so unjust what happened, and where this club ended up, but they were never going to let it go, or disappear or die.

"Because they knew that days like Saturday were possible, and they knew they'd be able to celebrate this club once again."

Richardson had already been there and worn the promotion t-shirt, having tasted previous success alongside Paul Cook at Chesterfield, Portsmouth and also Latics in 2017-18.

But did this latest success mean more, given the circumstances of the last couple of years?

"You'd never want to say it's better than any of the others," Richardson reflected. "Because I've worked at some great clubs with some great people.

"But with the challenges we came from, and what we had to endure throughout the season, it's so special.

"Everybody knows the challenges we faced, whether they were personal or professional.

"People are quick to forget in football, there's no memory some of the time of what's gone on.

"We started last summer with three players under contract with not much structure in place.

"There's been a lot of people working tirelessly hard to make this happen.

"Football clubs are hard enough places to work, never mind the circumstances which we've had to adapt to.

"However little part some people think they've played, they've all played their part."

After playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday for the best part of nine months, Richardson is ready for some down time.

For one reason in particular!

"I'll be honest, the best thing about the summer - and the biggest plus point at this minute - is I don't have to pick a team for Tuesday," he laughed.

"I hate disappointing lads when I name a team, I'd happily play every single one of them.

"I trust all of them, they've all done so well...sadly as a manager you can only pick 11 at any one time.

"But everything we've achieved, we've done so as a group.

"Nothing is ever won with 11 players...everyone has played their part in what's happened."