Talking sport: Another eventful year for Wigan Athletic and Warriors
Even by Wigan standards, 2021 has been another utterly eventful sporting year.
It seems a lifetime ago now, but this time last year we were still waiting for the EFL to make a decision on the Spanish group bidding to take control of Latics.
And while many fans were critical at the time of the governing body for not waving it through, in hindsight it was one of the best things that ever happened.
A week into the new year, the bid collapsed, and details emerged that suggested the group perhaps weren’t the godsend they purported to be.
Fast-forward a couple of months – and the emergence of Phoenix 2021 Limited – and we suddenly had a bright light at the end of a horribly long, dark tunnel.
On the field, Leam Richardson somehow steered a squad made up of free transfers, free agents, loans and teenagers to the greatest of great escapes
Having been rightly hailed a Latics legend at the end of the season, he somehow did the impossible and went even further up in our estimations...by literally saving the life of Charlie Wyke following the striker’s collapse at Christopher Park.
Many fans will watch the second half of the campaign from the ‘Leam Richardson Stand’, after new chairman Talal Al Hammad decreed the South Stand be renamed in honour of his manager.
Ah yes, Talal Al Hammad, someone who 12 months ago could have walked down Standishgate without anyone batting an eyelid. But whose arrival in Wigan over the summer caused a reaction not since the days of the Pied Piper of Hamlin.
Talal couldn’t have done any more to appear the polar opposite of his predecessor Stanley Choi, who still wouldn’t be able to pick out Wigan on a map for all the casino chips in Hong Kong.
And the Wigan public – who did their bit to keep their club going during its darkest days – have welcomed him in as a bona fide adopted Wiganer.
The message from Bahrain on taking over was simple: To under-promise, and over-deliver.
Not exactly ‘Premiership in 10 years’ but, after what’s happened in the last 18 months, just what we wanted to hear.
And as we hit the halfway mark of the campaign, it’s very much ‘so far, so good’ – on and off the field.
We’re also witnessing the dawn of a new era across Robin Park at the Warriors, with local boy Matty Peet having the honour of leading his hometown club into its 150th year.
The three years since Shaun Wane left as a Super League champion have been both frustrating and disappointing – despite the best efforts, in difficult circumstances, of a club legend in Adrian Lam.
But the return of Wane – in a Leadership role to guide Peet– is a huge statement of intent...that ‘nearly good enough’ will never be good enough at this club.
Finally, on behalf of everyone at Wigan Today Towers and our sister titles, I wish you and yours a fantastic 2022.
One thing’s for certain – in this great town of ours, it absolutely won’t be dull...
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