We’re big fans of coming up against new faces; Wigan Athletic being a side we’d never had the pleasure until the 2023-4 season. You could say that we have much we can learn from the Latics too. Until 1978, they were locked in non-league football; finally getting their chance of years of applying for election. Their rise up to the Premier League is perhaps something that we’d like to emulate one day. First, however, we’ll need to get used to getting the better of them. At least we’ll be starting the 2023-4 League One season four points better off!
And don’t get us started on that bloody “Will Grigg’s on Fire” malarkey. We know who got the song in first…
The Latics are closing in on their century, which makes them far older than us – but much younger than a lot of their contemporaries. As it goes, Wigan Athletic are thought to be the sixth attempt to make football stick in a town you’ll no doubt know for its rugby league team. Upon forming in 1932, the club were given a place in the Cheshire County League. They also chanced their arm at joining the Football League at the same time. But their election campaign attracted nil points.
The 1930s would deliver a hattrick of Cheshire County League titles. But once World War Two was all said and done, they finished bottom at the end of the 1946-7 season and – incredibly – failed to be re-elected back into the competition. So, off to the Lancashire Combination they went. And won it straight away. The 1950s would bring with them another three titles too. By this point, they’d also come close to election into the Football League (1950). Scunthorpe and Shrewsbury got over the line though.
The Latics made a successful return to the Cheshire County League in the 1960s, before helping to found the Northern Premier League in 1968. Two title wins and four second-place finishes in the following years must’ve counted for something; Wigan Athletic elected (finally) to the Football League in 1978. From then on, it’s been a solid stint in the top four divisions; a slow burning journey that exploded into life in the early 2000s with promotion through the second tier into the Premier League under Dave Whelan’s guidance.
How to get to Wigan Athletic – Travel Information – Distance: 183 miles
Boro’ fans on the road to Wigan pier will likely – but not necessarily – find themselves making the journey north on the M6. The question as to whether you’ll go old school through Birmingham or up the shiny Toll is yours to answer. All that matters is that you’re able to get yourself to Junction 25, which throws you off towards the A49. And when you finally reach the roundabout at the end of the spur, take the first exit and head north; passing a Premier Inn on your left.
Just over a mile later, you’ll come to another roundabout. Take the first exit onto the B5386; pretty much bearing straight on if the roundabout isn’t actually there. As you come to a much larger roundabout (with a cluster of eateries and retail units), keep left for Robin Park Road. Shortly afterwards, turn right; this will take you behind Asda and around the edge of a retail park. The road kinks around sharply to the left next to Wickes. Keep following the road and you’ll reach the stadium.
Based on what the official Latics website says, you may get lucky with one of the 2,000 parking spaces at the stadium. Don’t be parking in the retail park or anything like that, however. You might well get clamped and/or fined. Out of the five official parking options at the stadium, we gather Car Parks 1, 3 and 4 are the ones to head for; Car Park 1 described as the Visitors Car Park. That could be a hint, we just don’t know.
It’ll cost you a fiver at the time of writing to use the car parks at the ground.
For less-abled supporters, the official advice is to use the North West car park as that’s the one offering the easiest access. More information is available by emailing [email protected].
Station: WIGAN NORTH WESTERN
Services to: LONDON EUSTON
At around 1.2 miles, the walk from station to ground should be doable in 25 minutes. Of course, it’ll take a bit longer if you stop for libation en route. And if you’re feeling lazy, you can take a taxi or the 641 bus; the latter not quite getting you all the way, however.
For the walkers among us, leave the station towards Wallgate and turn left. As a road bends round in front of you from the left, head straight on. This will keep you on Wallgate – but now it becomes the A577. From here, it’s more or less a case of continuing on this road ’til you get to the big Saddle Junction roundabout. As you do, follow it around to the right hand side; walking next to the River Douglas (right) and Asda (left).
It’s then a case of coming back onto the road (Loire Drive) and following it to the stadium.
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