The 12th Man column...These players epitomise everything that is right about our club
Wigan Athletic fans give their opinions on the players showing their support for teammate Charlie Wyke, and look ahead to another FA Cup game.
It’s truly amazing, no matter what the season, what the situation is, over a near 20 year period now Wigan Athletic have managed to produce squad after squad of lads who just get us.
They get that we’re not the biggest club, and that shock horror we don’t have the same level of support as some of those clubs from the big cities.
But they find something at Wigan, something that makes them fight like lions for the cause.
Something that brings them back time after time again. I can’t put my finger on it, maybe it’s because we are that bit smaller the players feel a lot more connected to the side.
From Izzy Diaz and Roberto Martinez, Andy Liddell and Graeme Jones, to Jason Roberts and Emmerson Boyce, Max Power and Will Grigg there’s players and indeed full teams at every stage of the last two and a bit decades who just get us.
That could be the promotion sides under Paul Jewell, the Premier League survivals under Steve Bruce and then the aforementioned Roberto Martinez or it could well be the league one winning sides in 2016 and 2018.
It’s very rare for us to deviate away from this connection between player and supporter, indeed in that period it feels like it’s only happened in those godforsaken seasons of Malky Mackay and Warren Joyce.
Even then there were players who came out of those disasters with credit.
Perhaps it’s the adversity that we’ve been through in those 20 years.
Adversity breeds togetherness and this Wigan Athletic side has it by the bucketload.
So what I’m saying in an extremely roundabout kind of way is that these lads get it.
These lads born out of the phoenix rising from the ashes of a nearly broken football club.
Despite barely having two months together at the start of the season these lads epitome everything that is right about our football club.
This was no more evident than on Saturday.
In a week where the lads’ friend and team mate collapsed in front of them when I imagine football was the last thing on their mind travelled across the country, first to Cambridge to fight back for a valuable point.
That really should have been all three before travelling to top of the table rivals Plymouth and winning in such dramatic fashion.
It takes character and it takes heart to manage to do that in a week like last week.
Throw in progress in the Pizza Cup and a first competitive goal for Stephen Humphreys and it’s another successful week for Leam and the management team.
The lads may come from all around but they get us, they get our football club and we’re eternally grateful for it.
The Latics community didn’t need another reason to rally around one another, but we were given one, and the response has been one of the brightest yet.
Before all else, let us wish Charlie Wyke a full recovery from his recent medical emergency and express gratitude that he is in a stable condition.
The human body is a marvel, but the unpredictable nature of its many systems and organs can be a gift and a curse.
The outpouring of love and support that the local football community offered to Charlie was nothing short of spectacular.
There are many things in life that are far more important than football.
Health and wellbeing for all should come at the top of this list regardless of whether somebody is a friend or foe on the pitch.
Since last Thursday, the club has done quite a bit to publically honour its ‘number 9’.
Charlie has fought tirelessly on the pitch for Latics and must surely be proud of how his team has delivered victories in its last two away fixtures.
A seemingly endless road-trip, a top six opponent, and the fatigue of an emotion-filled week were not enough to keep Latics from scoring an impeccable 90th minute winner at Plymouth.
The winning goal and ensuing celebration between the fans and players captured everything that makes Wigan Athletic one-of-a-kind.
Leam Richardson’s professional playing and coaching career has spanned nearly 25 years. He described last week as one of the ‘hardest and toughest’ that he has experienced during that timespan.
One can dictate a manager’s success by wins, draws, and losses, but no one can measure the intangibles that our gaffer brings to Wigan Athletic.
His leadership in the face of adversity is every bit as remarkable as it is invaluable.
The positive energy from Saturday’s performance travelled over 300 miles north to Accrington on Tuesday and saw the Latics reserves outplay Stanley’s first team in the rain to achieve victory in the Papa John’s Trophy.
We are now three victories from a trip to Wembley and the appetite for pizza will only get stronger with each upcoming cup fixture.
Our nine-day ‘Tour de England’ concludes on Sunday with a trip to Colchester for our second round FA Cup tie.
A win would build on our strong playing form and give us a chance at our first ‘scalp’ of the competition in the third round.
A loss would provide some relief for our much congested fixture list.
A replay should be avoided
at all costs. We celebrated our annual Thanksgiving holiday in the US last week and the NYC-based Latics contingent was thankful
to enjoy the company of several Wiganers for the Plymouth match last weekend.
The occasion marked the first time in nearly two years that we were able to host international guests at a watch party.
The interactions only further confirmed that Wiganers are some of the best people out there.
Our club has given us many reasons to be thankful and I’m optimistic that there will be many more blessings to come this season.
Caddy from the 5:
The domestic treble is still on as Latics swept aside Accrington on penalties this week in the ‘Azderz Pizzas Are Better Than Papa Johns’ Trophy.
A very timely goal from Stephen Humphrys, giving Leam a nod for the weekend, and more heroics from Jamie Jones in goal.
I won’t be jumping on the bandwagon just yet, but of course I’ve booked the hotel, train and time off for the final, where I’ll be telling everyone I’ve been to every round to collect my Superfan points (I’ve not been to any games TBH).
Last Saturday saw the ‘Tics go joint top of the league with Bolton, sorry Rotherham, after a great win at Plymouth that was greatly received by their fans.
In fact, they came in to our end to congratulate us, that was good of them I thought!
It’s been said a thousand times this season, but the team spirit is there for all to see.
I don’t see any egos at all, just a great bunch of lads doing anything they can to help each other.
The running to the sideline to get Charlie Wyke’s shirt and hold it up sums ‘em all up, and the late, late winner from next season’s Balon d’Or winner Callum Lang just rounding off a great day for the 700 fans that made the longest of trips down south.
I’m not gonna dwell on Charlie Wyke, but just hope he first and foremost gets his health back, and hopefully we see him in a ‘Tics shirt again whenever he’s ready.
Well it’s Superfan time again this Sunday, when the ‘Tics hope to keep the treble dream still going as they head down south again for a 12.30pm kick-off at Colchester in the FA Cup (which we’ve won in colour, Bolton fans).
An absolutely baffling time to play it when it’s not even on the telly, the fans really don’t get thought of enough in these decisions at all.
Good luck to all those that are going, I’m sure you’ll let us all know you’re there!
Last word is on Thelo Aasgaard – if you don’t think this lad will lift the World Cup for England (I don’t care if he’s Norwegian, Jack Charlton swizzed it for Ireland enough times) we can never be friends.
He’s an absolute diamond and will go all the way.
Right, I’m off finding a boozer for the game Sunday with ‘Bow on and telling everyone Monday I went the game.
UP THE TICS!
To see the team respond to the traumatic events on the training ground with four points out of six shows the character in the team squad and management.
All we can do now is send Charlie Wyke our best wishes and hope he makes a good recovery.
Whether that includes playing football doesn’t matter, as long he’s around for his family.
Football-wise, we just need to keep our heads down and carry on churning results and performances out.
Cambridge was good,
But Plymouth was better.
Accy was great,
And certainly wetter
And then it’s the Shrews.
Talk of a struggle
Is yesterday’s news.
Then onto Cookie,
The battle supreme,
But who’s gonna win?
Of course. Yep, it’s Leam.
Class on the pitch
And off it as well
Promotion looking likely?
Only time ‘ll tell.
The fight in the lads
To honour Charlie Wyke
It’s fills us wi’ pride,
Well, what’s not to like?
The future is blue,
The future is bright,
Cos Talal’s at the wheel,
And the Tics are alright.