That was seven years ago. One Scharner retirement, one (unbelievably real) FA Cup, and one relegation later, I find myself as a Wigan fan in a familiar, yet altogether unfamiliar, position. The Latics have overcome their fair share of adversity in the relatively short time I’ve been a fan. Wigan is a rugby town with an undersized, if not loyal, fan base for a soccer club. But recently they find themselves at the center of the English soccer world for all the wrong reasons. The club is in a bit of an early season crisis, culminated by the fall into a relegation spot that saw manager Uwe Rosler lose his job. Couple that with the recent hiring of the currently under investigation Malky Mackay and the moral question marks he brings to the club. One shirt sponsor has already pulled out of their contract with Wigan over the hiring, and chairman Dave Whelan, in a bid to quell concerns, somehow managed to fuel the fire. Nobody questions Mackay’s ability to manage a soccer team, in fact most Cardiff City fans will tell you he is a very good manager, but if the FA comes back with a report damning Mackay and his actions, the Latics could be looking at a scramble to hire their 3rd manager in the same season. It all just seems to give off the sound of bending wood, slowly splintering under a bridge that had questions of integrity to begin with.
The reason I’m writing this article is perspective. “It’s hard being a [insert club name here] fan” is a phrase I hear all too often from people supporting teams who often showcased on the European stage. And the clubs that are actually hard being fans who get less press, because as you might have guessed, these clubs are much smaller. Well I just want to say, for anyone out there who may have been wondering, it is truly hard being a Wigan fan, especially now.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Being a fan of this club has taught me things most other clubs never could. Patience, toughness, and maybe most importantly, hope. If it all works out with Mackay and we rise up the table in a bid for Premier League pastures, I’m not going anywhere. If it’s a catastrophic plunge into League One on the cards and we flagellate the club of any talent worth keeping due to financial needs, well I’m not going anywhere if that happens either. No matter the outcome, Wigan Athletic (yes, that Wigan Athletic) will always hold a special, if unlikely, spot in my heart for the way it helped to shape my love for the beautiful game, and for that, all I can say, is “THANX”.