The making and success of wigan athletic football club was the direct consequence of wigan borough’s failure as a football team in 1931

gifts of wigan athletic football club

The making and success of Wigan Athletic Football Club was the direct consequence of Wigan Borough’s failure as a football team in 1931. When the Great Depression struck in the 1930’s it came as no surprise that Wigan Borough had hit hard times and could no longer support the financial demands in running and operating a Football Club and like several other teams before them who attempted this similar act, closure swiftly engulfed the club. There was no financial gifts or help and when players weren’t been paid they had to seek other employment to feed their families and survive the tough times. So for Wigan Athletic FC to form but also to endure this hard period and succeed where many before had failed deserves credit.

With Springfield Park no longer in use by the now bankrupt Borough’s Club, Wigan Athletic purchased the ground. At this time they played football in the Cheshire County League but it was in the 1934 FA Cup first round when they met and beat Carlisle United 6-1 who incidentally were a Football League side that the club came to the attention of the football community.  This record score for a none league side to dish out a humiliating defeat to a league side remained until 1955.

In 1978 luck fell at their side when they won enough votes to compete in the Football League even though Boston United finished top of the Northern Premier League and were favourites to win the vote. This was partially due to Springfield Park been seen by voting members as a more suitable stadium. Automatic promotion to the Football League wasn’t incorporated until 1987.

They managed to finish just 6 points off promotion in their opening season but it wasn’t until 1981/2 season under the gifts of ex Liverpool player Larry Lloyd and accumulating 91 points that Wigan moved up to Division 3. The club found its self in deeper water and making progress wasn’t forthcoming. Lloyd’s enthusiasm and commitment did not bring the results the club craved for and he was replaced in 1983 by Harry McNally.  The club still struggled but kept their place safe in Division 3 but that’s alls they really did achieve under McNally. His intention for Wigan was to bring genuinely good things for the future but he also became an ex manager. Then the gifts of Irishman Bryan Hamilton came into play and with it more substantial results for Wigan. The clubs first silverware was added when they won The Freight Rover Trophy which gave the club a much needed confidence boost and the 1985/86 season saw their form reach a higher level when they finished impressively fourth in the league. Hamilton had worked wonders in invigorating Wigan Athletic, so much so that other clubs were showing an interest in his football gifts. One in particular came from Leicester and with been a Division 1 club the appeal for Hamilton was too great to refuse and sadly for Wigan he left.

However, the good times were gradually coming to a halt and for the latter parts of the 80’s and early 90’s Wigan’s performance on the pitch became diabolical which added to the knock on effect of poor attendances. Many of Wigan’s games could not attract more than a couple of thousand people at home which in turn created a detrimental situation on assets.

1995 saw local businessman and ex football player Dave Whelan buy the club and vowed to have Wigan playing in the Premiership. His gifts and influence were put to use almost straight away when he brought in three Spanish players who would become known as the three amigos. The current manager Graham Barrow was sacked and John Deehan was put in charge. The idea appeared to have the desired affect when the club ended the season just 2 points away from a play-off place. Another year would soon come to pass and with it Wigan were crowned champions of Division 3. The football gifts of Graeme Jones had been a much welcomed help with his 31 league goals. 1999 the club added other silverware under veteran Wigan manager Ray Mathias when they beat Millwall 1-0 at Wembley to lift Auto Windscreens Shield. Harshly, Mathias was sacked when they lost to Manchester City in the play-offs but the pressure from Whelan was colossal to succeed.

The 2002/03 season saw the club move one step closer to their Premiership dreams when they finished top of the tables in Division 2 under another manager and ex Wigan player Paul Jewell. The new manager’s gifts put the Latics in finer form in the 2004/05 season. On the verge of Premiership status they required a draw on their last game at the JJB Stadium against Reading. The 3-1 win was more than enough to see Wigan win promotion and play in the top flight of English football for the first time in their history.

The clubs nail biting opening game against Chelsea looked like a draw would be the outcome but the London club sneaked a last minute goal. They held their own in the Premiership and for a short while were 2nd in the league. Over-all Wigan did exceptional in their debut participation and silenced their sceptics with a mid table finish.

Dave Whelan’s statement many years before and the belief and determination to see it through had been realized. Newspapers and the media thought and wrote how ridiculous this notion to be at the time.

Steve Bruce made a return to the club in the 2007/08 season after Chris Hutchings was dismissed by Whelan for the clubs poor performance and putting them in danger of relegation. Bruce’s football gifts did settle the Latics down and saw them climb out of the table’s bottom positions, plus held Liverpool to a draw at Anfield. Respectable signings were made with the likes of Lee Cattermole for ?3.5 million from Middlesbrough and Amr Zaki, the Egyptian striker. When the manager’s role at Sunderland came vacant, Bruce left Wigan yet again and later, so did Cattermole.

Spaniard Robert Martinez and former Wigan player joined the Latics as manager for the start of the 2009/10 season. They did get off to a bumpy start but did manage to beat Chelsea 3-1.

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