Wigan Athletic vs Shrewsbury Town, Sky Bet League One, 21/11/15, DW Stadium
Any regular readers of this blog may be wondering what happened to last week’s blog, and there is a reason for why there was no blog last week, and I’ll explain that now. (If you are just here for the write up of Wigan vs Shrewsbury, you might want to skip ahead, I won’t be upset, much…)
This last week, starting last Saturday, has possibly been one of the worst that I have had for a while. I’m probably being melodramatic, but it’s been tough. Last Saturday (14/11/15) I woke up to the news that Bala Town vs Carmarthen had been called off due to a waterlogged pitch, meaning that I would need to look elsewhere for football. But in all honesty I couldn’t be bothered, as I’d just begun to develop an abscess on the right side of my jaw, so with my right cheek looking like a hamster’s, I decided to spend Saturday playing Football Manager and feeling sorry for myself. The abscess was worse on the Sunday, and that put an end to my idea of going to watch Bangor City vs Airbus UK. On Monday, there had been no improvement and I was beginning to dread a visit to the Dentist, I struggled through work but was sent home early, as I wasn’t able to do my job properly (my job involves using phones, and I could hardly speak). However on Monday night, the damned thing burst, and it began to go down. It had pretty much gone by Friday morning, and I was beginning to think positively.
I had booked the day off of work, and my family and I headed up to Chorley where we were going to be stopping for the weekend in the Premier Inn, (Premier Inn Chorley South, I recommend this place). But on leaving the Flat Iron car-park in Chorley, to drive down to the hotel, I noticed a warning light on the dashboard, and got out of the car to investigate. Finding nothing wrong, I got back in, and carried on driving. It was then that I noticed that the car was overheating, and I managed to limp it down a side street. Once we had walked to the hotel, I then headed back to the car, to discover that the coolant had leaked, and there was none left. I filled the coolant back up, but the engine warning light stayed on, so I gingerly drove the car down to the hotel, where it has sat ever since. That then put an end to my idea of going to watch Atherton Colleries vs Chadderton, so I treated myself to a bath at the hotel. So that ends my moan about this being a rubbish week. But what can I do? Moan, panic, worry? That’s going to achieve nothing, you just have to get on with things, and that’s what I’ll do. As Monty Python said, “Always look on the bright side of life.”
Back to the football side of this blog, I’m having to try and take the blue and amber tinted glasses off, and write this from a non-biased point of view, however that may be difficult, and if I am being biased, I do apologise. After the week I had had, I was looking forward to my visit to Wigan, my parents would be joining me for this match, as they travel up and down the country, when they can, to watch the Shrewsbury, and this was a game that they were also looking forward to. This was to be my first Shrewsbury league match of the season, and some people may say “Well why don’t you get to more?” It’s a case of not being able to afford it. Going to home matches sees costs growing, as after paying for a ticket, programme, food, petrol and parking, I’m not left with much out of £50 if anything at all. Considering that my normal expenditure at football is around £20, you can see why I say I can’t afford it. Honestly I wish I could follow Shrewsbury up and down the country, home and away, as although I love watching Chorley, and going to random grounds around Wales and the North, nothing will ever beat the love I have for Shrewsbury Town. Anyway before I end up becoming completely soppy, and turning this blog into some kind of romantic shrine to Shrewsbury Town, I’ll get on with the history of the two sides.
Wigan Athletic were formed in 1932, following the winding up of Wigan Borough the previous year. Wigan Athletic was the fifth attempt to create a stable football club in the town following the demise of Wigan County, Wigan United, Wigan Town and Wigan Borough. Springfield Park, the former home of Wigan Borough, was purchased by the club for £2,850. Despite their initial application being turned down, Wigan Athletic were elected into the Cheshire County League following the resignation of Manchester Central. The club had also made the first of many attempts to be admitted into the Football League, but failed to receive a single vote. On 27 August 1932, Wigan Athletic played their first ever league game against Port Vale Reserves. Wigan Athletic won their first silverware in 1934 as they won the Cheshire League. More silverware was to follow, as the club won the league for the second time in 1935, before winning the league again, and the Lancashire Junior Cup in 1935. The biggest change in Wigan’s history was to come in February 1995, when local millionaire and the owner of JJB Sports, Dave Whelan purchased the club. His business connections in Spain soon attracted three Spaniards, who became known as “The Three Amigos”, to the club- Jesus Seba, Isidro Diaz and Roberto Martinez. In the 2004-2005 season, Dave Whelan’s aim of getting Wigan to the Premier League was realised as Wigan finished second in the league, and secured promotion to the Promised Land. Wigan consolidated their place in the Premier League in their first season, and began to look to kick on. Roberto Martinez rejoined the club in 2009 as manager, leaving behind Swansea City. From this point on it became almost tradition for Wigan to fall into the relegation zone, before going on to save themselves at the last moment. In 2013 Wigan lifted the FA Cup after beating Manchester City in the final, before finally succumbing to the inevitable and they were relegated to the Championship. Martinez left for Everton, and was replaced by Owen Coyle. Coyle didn’t last long and was sacked on the 2nd of December 2013, with the club having won seven games out of twenty three, and Uwe Rosler replaced him. Interestingly, having won the FA Cup, Wigan were playing in the Europa League for the first time in their history, despite being a Championship club, their European dreams were ended with a defeat to Maribor. In November 2014, Rosler lost his job, with Wigan in the relegation zone. He was replaced by Malky Mackay and in the controversy that followed, Dave Whelan resigned as chairman, but remained as owner, handing the chairmanship to his grandson David Sharpe, in March 2015. A month later, in April 2015, Mackay was sacked, and Gary Caldwell was bought in to replace him, however Caldwell was unable to stop the Latics from falling into League One.
Shrewsbury Town were formed in 1886, and were elected to the Football League in 1950, where they remained until 2003, when they were relegated to the Conference, following a season in which they would beat Everton 2-1 in the FA Cup Third Round, but the club never found their form in the league, and under Kevin Ratcliffe’s management, they ended their 53 year stay in the Football League. In the club’s early history they were founder members of the Shropshire & District League in 1890-1891, before moving to the Birmingham & District League in 1895. Shrewsbury’s time in the Birmingham League was mostly spent around mid-table with the club winning the league in 1923. The club then moved to the Midlands Champions League in 1937, and the club enjoyed one of it’s most successful season with the club winning a league and cup treble, as the club were league champions, scoring 111 goals in the process, and in addition they won the Welsh Cup and the Shropshire Senior Cup. Following the Second World War, the club were admitted to the Division Three (North) of the Football League in time for the 1950-1951 season. In 1958, possibly the best player in Shrewsbury’s history arrived in the form of Arthur Rowley, in his time with the club Rowley broke Dixie Dean’s goal-scoring record. Rowley retired in 1965 and remained as manager until 1968. In the 70’s Town would welcome another great manager in the form of Graham Turner, who guided Salop to the Third Division Championship in 1979, his first season in charge, which took the club to the Second Division for the first time. The club stayed in the Second Division for 10 years, during this time Turner left for Aston Villa in 1984. During this time in the Second Division, Shrewsbury would face, and beat, a number of big name clubs, including Fulham, Newcastle, Blackburn Rovers, West Ham and Chelsea. In 1989 Shrewsbury were relegated back to the Third Division, and three years later in 1992, Shrewsbury went back down to the Fourth Division, and they returned back to the Third Division (then known as Division Two, now known as League One), but they were to rise no further, and ended up being relegated back to Division Three (League Two) in 1997. Kevin Ratcliffe was appointed manager in 1999, with the club battling relegation. Ratcliffe ultimately saved the club with a “Great Escape” occurring against Exeter City on the final day of the season. Ratcliffe then began to build, with the club missing out on the playoffs in 2002. However it was all to go wrong in the 2002-2003 season with the club being relegated from the Football League, despite a win over Everton in the FA Cup Third Round. The club soon bounced back from the Conference, as Jimmy Quinn led the side through the play-offs, and back into the league. Shrewsbury Town would go on to play at Wembley in 2007, and 2009, with the club losing on both occasions in the Play Off Finals. Graham Turner returned in 2010, and was able to guide the club back to League One in 2012, and he delivered safety in the following season, but was unable to build on this and in 2014 the club returned to League Two, with Turner leaving and current manager Micky Mellon joining. Town won promotion at the first time of asking, as Mellon led us back to League One, where we are today.
My parents and I left Chorley at around 1.30pm, and pulled into the visiting supporter’s car park at around 2pm. Our first port of call was to be the PowerLeague bar situated inside the “Soccerdome”, where I bought a pint of Becks, a half of Stella and a coffee all for £6.40. In the PowerLeague bar we sat and watched the final ten minutes of the Bristol City vs Hull City match, before heading down to the DW Stadium. Before entering the ground we picked up a copy of the very good Wigan programme for £3.
The DW Stadium was opened in 1999, and was known as the JJB Stadium when it first opened. It is shared by Wigan Athletic and Wigan Warriors Rugby Club. The ground can hold 25,138 spectators with the record attendance coming against Manchester United in 2008, with the attendance at 25,133. The ground is mostly symmetrical, with the North and South Stands, behind the goals, matching each other, and the East and West Stand, along the touchlines, almost matching. The stands are rather steep, which means that the spectators are close to the pitch, despite the fact that the stands are a fair distance from the pitch perimeter. Leg room in the stands is good, and as a 6 foot 2 inch tall man, I was glad of this. We elected to sit (stand) at the back of the North Stand, and my only complaint would be that the framework obstructed the view of the other stands, and therefore the scoreboard, however I could see the pitch fine, which is all that matters. The concourses were rather bland concrete affairs, and luckily Town had only bought 812 with them, as it was getting pretty cramped on the concourse.
Wigan were to start the half the brighter of the two sides, as they began to apply early pressure to the Shrewsbury back four, and were simply unable to take their chances. In the 4th minute Max Power had a perfect chance to open the scoring as the ball was played back to him on the edge of the area, but he could only shoot over.
Michael Jacobs of Wigan was forced off in the 14th minute, as he suffered an injury and Will Grigg came on to replace him. Jacobs took his time to walk around the perimeter of the pitch, and I hope that he hasn’t suffered a serious injury.
In the 29th minute Darren Deadman, the referee, did something that I haven’t seen for a while, and that was to award a yellow card for simulation. Chris McCann was the man booked for diving, and I’m sure Tom Daley would have been proud of the dive.
Jermaine Grandison was booked on the 33rd minute as he pulled back Yanic Wildschut, rather needlessly. It was a poor booking to pick up, and I’m sure Grandison will be disappointed with himself.
In the 36th minute, Wigan finally got the goal that their play deserved as Alex Revell headed the ball into the far left corner following a good cross from Yanic Wildschut on the left hand side. I believe that Junior Brown could have done better to shut the cross down, as he was muscled off of the ball too easily.
Larnell Cole had a perfect chance to pull Shrewsbury back into the game but his half-volley from 25 yards out was punched around the post by Jussi Jaaskelainen in the 43rd minute.
After four minutes of extra time, the Darren Deadman signalled for half time, and Wigan went into the break with the lead that their superiority deserved.
Half Time: Wigan 1-0 Shrewsbury (Revell 36)
I decided not to head to the concourse at half time, as I decided that I couldn’t be bothered fighting through the crowds to get some food. Plus I had already been down to the concourse, around ten minutes into the first half, and had asked for a Meat & Potato Pie, only to be told that they weren’t ready. That’s right, I couldn’t get a pie in Wigan. I’ll leave you with that one. So I made do with a bag of crisps and a bottle of Coke Zero, which I paid £3.20 for.
The second half kicked off and now Shrewsbury would be attacking towards the away fans, all 812 of us, and I began to hope that the players would reward the fans for their support.
Shrewsbury made an early sub in the 51st minute, with Junior Brown coming off to be replaced by Scott Vernon. Brown hadn’t had the best of games, and I still feel that he should have done better to close down Wildschut before he was able to deliver the cross for the first goal. Shrewsbury had now moved from a 451 formation to a 442.
Dave Perkin’s picked up a yellow card in the 58th minute for tripping Scott Vernon inside the Wigan half. Also in the 58th minute, Ian Black was replaced by Liam Lawrence, in Shrewsbury’s second substitution.
Wigan were still the dominant of the two sides, with Max Power coming close in the 66th minute as he had a good chance, but could only volley wide. Wildschut then had another chance to increase the Wigan lead, after he cut inside from the left, but his shot flew over the bar, in the 67th minute.
James Collins had a good chance to pull Shrewsbury level in the 70th minute, as he hit a low volley to the far corner, following a good cross from Grandison, Jaaskelainen got a hand to the ball, but he needn’t have bothered, as Collins was offside. Again.
The 75th and 76th minute each saw a booking, as Vernon was booked in the 75th minute for a poor challenge on Wildschut, and in the 76th minute, Mat Sadler was booked for pulling back Tim Chow.
Wigan made their second change of the game in the 77th minute as Alex Revell came off to be replaced by Craig Davies.
Shrewsbury then made their final sub in the 79th minute, with James Collins coming off to be replaced by Tyrone Barnett. Collins had put in a shift, but unfortunately most of the time he had been offside, and needs to work on timing his runs.
Wigan’s final sub came in the 84th minute as Tim Chow came off to be replaced by Alex Pearce.
Between the 86th to 89th minute, Jason Leutwiler showed why he is such an important part of the team as he pulled off three good saves to deny Wigan. In the 86th minute he made a good low stop to deny Craig Davies, he then followed this up with a superb, one-handed stop to deny Chris McCann’s shot to the top left corner. In the 89th minute Leutwiler made another superb, one handed stop this time to tip over Max Power’s powerful drive.
The fourth official then signalled that five minutes would be added onto the match, but Wigan were happy to defend for this time, and Shrewsbury were unable to find an equalizer.
Final Score: Wigan 1-0 Shrewsbury (Revell 36)
This hadn’t been a fantastic game of football. Wigan deserved the win as they were the better of the two sides, but I was disappointed not to have at least walked away with a point. Wigan will probably go on to win promotion back to the Championship, and I wish them the best of luck, I’ve had a soft spot for Wigan since they were a Premier League team, and I hope that one day they will get back to the Premier League. Shrewsbury Town aren’t going to have an easy season, but I feel we can escape relegation and consolidate our place in League One. If there is a man that will do that, then it is Mickey Mellon, and he needs time, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Both sets of fans were good, but there wasn’t really anything happening on the pitch which would inspire the fans. There was a group of Salop fans at the front of the stand who seemed to be having a good time, and were making plenty of noise. The Shrewsbury fans were also very quick to point out that the DW Stadium seemed to be a bit too big for the number of people inside, but when you consider that Wigan have plummeted from the Premier League to League One, I think the decline in attendances is understandable. I’m not going to pull out the old cliché of Wigan being a rugby town.
The DW Stadium is a brilliant stadium, the view from the stands is excellent, the leg room is fantastic, and the ground is a good one all round. It’s obviously a ground built for bigger and better things, and one day I hope that the DW Stadium is used for Premier League matches, although I’d hate to have to try and use the concourse if there was a sellout crowd, as I can imagine that it would get cramped down there. The facilities around the ground are also good, and there are plenty of places around the ground to have a drink before the match.
I’m not going to say anything about Darren Deadman, as I was raised to say nothing if I had nothing nice to say. I feel that both teams and both sets of fans can feel annoyed with his performance, as he did miss a number of incidents. Then again this is Darren Deadman, he’s not very good.
Oh and if anyone is interested, I sorted my car out. There was a leak somewhere, and the car was losing coolant. After a quick phone call to my Wife’s uncle, he informed us that some Radweld would sort the problem, at least temporarily, and after following his advice, the leaks stopped, the engine management light went off, and we were able to get back to Wrexham.
Attendance: 8,803 (812 Shrewsbury fans)
Hat-tricks seen so far: 2 (I will give a fiver to charity if I see a hat-trick at the next game I attend)
Next week’s plan: Llandudno vs Connah’s Quay, Dafabet Welsh Premier League, 28/11/15
Money spent: £32.60 (Although my parents did pay for my ticket, which was nice of them, so I spent £12.60 altogether)