Ahead of our vital clash with Wigan on this Good Friday, we spoke to Jake, an avid Latins fan.
How long have you supported Wigan Athletic and why did you choose them as your team?
I have been following Wigan athletic home and away games for the past 10 years. I was originally born In Liverpool and followed them for my early years but since moving to Wigan and going to a few a games I instantly fell in love with them as every game was a challenge. Cheap season tickets and watching top footballers in the premier league was amazing. Wigan seem to be a team that will always surprise you and that’s why I follow them.
What’s your favourite moment as a fan. Season, game or anything other occasion.
I have to say the FA cup final against Man City in 2013 was just a day I’ll never forget. It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. I can remember exactly what happened... the tannoy announced there was 3 minutes of added time, as that happened Shaun Maloney whipped in a corner and up stepped what Wigan fans called God... Ben Watson with a header into the top corner. That feeling will live with every Wigan fan for the rest of our lives. I don’t see us ever doing that again, we were told we could never do it and that Man City were to strong. Little Wigan proved everyone wrong.
Tell us about a player that you were proud to have on the back of a shirt, if you didn’t is there one you wished you would have.
I have got to say “Will Grigg”, a lot of older Wigan fans would tell you the likes of Jason Roberts and all of the amazing players we had who took us to the premier league. The reason I say Will Grigg is because of the memories he gave us.
That being his song “Will Grigg is on fire” or the countless goals he scored to take us back into the championship. He was an amazing bloke who was down to earth and gave everything for the team. Every Wigan fan would tell you how upsetting it was to see him leave in January to Sunderland. Football teams need players like Will Grigg who can talk to the fans and be a real team player
What’s your most memorable match playing Leeds?
Well this is a tough one as I don’t have many great memories of playing Leeds as they seem to be so strong and never give up. My favourite game is one where both teams were struggling back in the 2014/2015 season.
Wigan were fighting to stay up as well as Leeds. I didn’t see us going to Ellend Road and picking up a crucial win. I was wrong, we managed to get a 2-0 win which was an amazing game to be at as we thought that could kick start our season... we were relegated that year
Are you happy with your dealings in this summer and winter transfer windows?
I am not happy with our summer and winter signings, we were going through a ownership change from the Whelen family to a Hong Kong based company. This meant we made hardly any transfers that have made any impact this year. We managed to get a few loan deals in the summer which have done alright.
Robinson our left back has loads of pace but is now not using it as much as he is scared to get caught out in defence. We re signed Lee evens from Sheffield united, who was meant to make the midfield stable but it seems to have backfired and he is pretty inconsistent but has loads of potential. In the January window we signed Leon Clarke, if he comes onto the pitch do not worry because he will not score. He does not fit with the Wigan play style one bit and will not be with us for much longer. If Wigan want to progress we need to spend money but sadly it seems we don’t have any.
What’s your realistic aim for the rest of the season and your hopes for the next one?
Well for Wigan athletic we need to stay up. We have turned into a yo-yo team from the championship to league 1. I seriously feel this season could have been different. After the first month we were 3rd in the league but our horrific away form has put us in the danger zone AGAIN. We have won only one away game all year against Stoke.
If we go down again I feel like fans will struggle next year to be motivated. Next year if we stay up (big if) we want to become a solid championship team. We need to have a few years in the championship and then try and push for the playoffs which I think could happen. We can’t keep getting relegated and then promoted because it means we keep changing managers and players. As a small town we know how difficult this could be.
Your thoughts on the EFL Championship this season?
I have said it time and time again. The championship is the best league to be in. You never know what’s going to happen (unless you are Wigan away because that’s a Guaranteed loss). You know how much it means to stay in the championship and just the feeling of being close to promotion to the premier league gives every fan excitement. This year especially is really exciting as we have a race for promotion and a battle to survive. I feel like this has been the most exciting year for the championship for a while. I hope it continues to keep the excitement and thrills.
Who are your three to be promoted this season? Two automatic places and playoff winners
Well this might anger a few Leeds fans but I’m saying Norwich will finish top and Sheffield united will get second. I really think Leeds, Sheffield united and Norwich all deserve that sweet promotion. The playoffs is where it gets tough and I sense that Leeds may miss out on a place in the premier league as I predict Bristol City to clinch promotion. I might change my opinion after our game against Leeds but for now I’m sticking with my 3 choices... sorry Leeds.
Can you name three for relegation this year?
Well Wigan will definitely stay up, I said that gritting my teeth together. This year it really is coming down to we might stay up because 3 teams are worse than us. For that reason I predict Ipswich (basically down), Bolton who for them being our rivals I do feel sorry for them as they are going through a lot of issues off the pitch. Now here’s the tough one, I predict Rotherham will go down due to not having the fire power. Rotherham have done exceptionally well as everyone gave them no hope. Sadly for Rotherham I think they will run out of steam.
Who’s your danger man?
The danger man at Wigan athletic is Reece James. He is our only successful signing this year, sadly it is only a loan player from Chelsea so we can’t keep him. He will be a future England captain and will have a great career ahead of him. He’s got the best touch I have ever seen, he can score from 30 yards out, he can dribble at full pace with the ball. He wins player of the month at Wigan nearly every month (which isn’t hard). Hopefully he plays in center mid where he can be deadly if you leave him open. I forget to say he has only just turned 19 so he is out of this world for his age.
Can you tell us about a rising star in the youth ranks?
Well at Wigan athletic we have a great youth system. We have one of the best youth systems in England which makes fantastic talent. Sadly for Wigan athletic we never get to see this talent as the big teams pick them up and take them away and offer ridiculous amounts of money. We have one player called Joe Gelhardt who is only 16 years old. He plays for the under 18s at Wigan. He is meant to be one of the brightest talents in England. Teams all around the world have their eyes on him. Unfortunately he may never get to the first team at Wigan as I believe he will leave for a premier league team before we get the chance to play him.
Prediction and scorers for the game?
I’m going to keep my prediction short and sweet and predict a 1-0 win to Wigan with Joe Garner getting the goal. We really need a win so if you could be kind to let that happen, Wigan fans would be extremely grateful, thank you.
We’d like to thank Jake for his answers and wish him and the Latics the best of luck for the rest of the season.
By Keith Ingham