Talking sport: Discussing Wigan Athletic, Wigan Warriors, UFC and Emily Borthwick

Twice a year, we find ourselves asking the same question: Why on earth do football clubs leave it so late before conducting transfer business?

Once again, Latics fans (and one local reporter) were burning the midnight oil to see what deals Leam, Mal and Talal could push through before the cut-off.

The clock striking 11pm is no longer a factor any more, with ‘deal sheets’ now allowed to be processed into the early hours.

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And sure enough, we were on our way to midnight when Ireland midfielder Jamie McGrath’s switch from St Mirren was confirmed.

Leam Richardson

With fellow midfielders Glen Rea and Graeme Shinnie, and forward Josh Magennis also joining – and Curtis Tilt and Tom Pearce being retained – it looks to be a very solid window indeed.

The only departure, Jordan Jones, had struggled to nail down a first-team spot since arriving last summer

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That Latics also managed to pocket the best of £2million – through sell-ons for Dan Burn and Kieffer Moore – will be one in the eye for those who lazily claim they are ‘buying the league’.

It may only be pre-season, but winning is a great habit to get into.

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And whisper it quietly, but Matty Peet’s Warriors are looking all right as they approach the big Super League kick-off next weekend.

While the win at Newcastle Thunder was little more than a contested training session, the victory at Warrington last weekend was a far greater indicator of where Wigan are – and where they’ll need to be very soon.

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As the new signings continue to bed in – with star man Bevan French still to return – Peet will be pleased with what he’s seen so far.

And just as impressive – if not more so – has been the off-field progress made in the last few months.

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The club’s recent media day was, by all accounts, as good as any ever served up by a Super League club. And it wasn’t just the free hot dinner that impressed my colleagues.

The way they were given access-all-areas to the club’s Robin Park HQ – listening in on team meetings and debriefings – underlined the commitment to the new regime to be as open as possible to media and, in turn, the fans who read the coverage.

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Which can only be a very good thing. Fair play.

What’s better than the sight of a Wiganer on the bill (top, no less!) of next month’s UFC Supercard at London’s O2 Arena?

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That’s right, two Wiganers on the bill!

And with Mike Grundy also tipped to make an appearance on the promotion’s first return to the UK since 2019, what a fantastic feat it would be to have a hat-trick of frontline fighters flying the flag for our town.

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Final word goes to Emily Borthwick, who kicked off 2022 with a high jump indoor personal best in Germany.

Having gone through the unspeakable tragedy of losing her younger brother, Connor, last November, Emily pledged to ‘make him proud’.

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She’s doing a fine job so far.

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