Talking football: Wigan Athletic history repeats itself!

Scouse starlet bursts on to the scene with a cracking goal at Hull, to the delight of the Latics fans behind the goal.
Joe GelhardtJoe Gelhardt
Joe Gelhardt

The scenes of unbridled joy as he’s instantly mobbed.

World at his feet...what a moment...huge feel-good factor engulfs the club.

For Callum McManaman in 2011, read Joe Gelhardt in 2019.

Two moments that will live long in the memory for those of us lucky to have been there for either/both.

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It was fantastic listening to the chants of ‘he’s one of our own’ from the Latics fans – a song which was also applicable to McManaman.

While neither hail from the town, their graduation through the Academy means they’re both adopted Wiganers.

And there’s no greater story in sport – perhaps in life – than local boy makes good.

The response to Gelhardt’s golden goal on Saturday has been huge, with Colin Murray and Phil Parkinson announcing him to Quest TV viewers as ‘the next Wayne Rooney’, no less.

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No pressure then lads! But you can see where the likeness comes from, given their similar physique, style of play and accent.

Clearly it would be wise not to get too carried away with the hype, and place too much pressure and expectation on a lad who only turned 17 in May, and who still lives at his home with his parents and little brother, Daniel.

But equally, it would be wrong not to enjoy this week’s wave of positivity, wrong not to bask in the glory of a real success story for the football club.

So much time, effort (and, yes, money) has gone into the Latics Academy, which is now reaping huge rewards.

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After such a long wait for players to come through to first team stardom – before McManaman, it was Leighton Baines...before Baines, it was...(answers on a postcard!)....

I remember watching a teenage Sam Tomkins scoring five tries on his Warriors debut, and coach Brian Noble doing his best to douse all the excitement with cold water.

“Let’s not put him in the universe team just yet,” he told the assembled press.

And, yep, no-one’s going to be putting Joe Gelhardt in the universe team just yet.

But he’s surely at least worth a place on the bench...

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It was great to see the Latics Development Squad pick up another win on Monday afternoon against Charlton Athletic at Euxton.

Yes, there were six ‘first-teamers’ getting match minutes, but the two players who impress me most were winger Olly Crankshaw and striker Joe Piggott.

Two more products of the Academy – under the watchful eye of Gregor Rioch (below) – and two more teenagers who’ll surely be knocking on the door in years to come.

Joe Gelhardt has been getting most of the headlines recently, but Jensen Weir will surely be following him into the first-team set-up this season.

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As an aside, it was also great to see most of the Latics first team, taking a break from training, coming over to support the next generation on the sidelines.

Confirmation that the whole club remains as one despite a difficult start to the campaign.

It’s just over three years since Wigan Athletic lifted the League One title in glorious sunshine at the DW. Must seem like a lifetime ago for Gary Caldwell.

Just five months after leading Latics back into the Championship, Caldwell was relieved of his duties at the DW Stadium.

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A couple of months later, he took over at Chesterfield, who were relegated to League Two at the end of the 2017-18 season.

After paying the ultimate price for a slow start to the following campaign, Caldwell decided to return to Scotland to take over at Partick Thistle.

Having steered them to safety on the final day of last term, Caldwell was yesterday sacked just five games into this season.

Still only 37, the former Scotland skipper may have to wait for his next chance in management – if indeed he wants one.