Day: July 17, 2012

Match Of The Past: Wigan Athletic

Having been elected into the Football League in 1978 and spending the next quarter of a century in the bottom two divisions, finding inclusions for Wigan Athletics turn on our Match Of The Past series hasn’t necessarily been easy. However, we have managed to find six matches from the years between 1982 and 1997 for you this evening, starting off with their last home match from the 1981/82 promotion season, when the cameras of Granada Television (and a young Martin Tyler) were persuaded to Springfield Park for a match against Mansfield Town, and next up is a trip to Wembley from 1985, as Wigan take on Brentford in front of a crowd of almost 40,000 people in the final of the Football League Trophy.  Next up comes a double-header from the semi-finals of the Division Three play-offs and a two-legged semi-final against Swindon Town, with the first leg at Springfield Park and the second leg at The County Ground. Finally, we have two matches from the 1990s. By 1993 Athletic were on their way back to the bottom division, but our match features them winning at Leyton Orient, and finally comes a match from another promotion season which this time ended with Wigan winning the Division Three (now League Two) championship title. This match is from the 1996/97 season, and is a trip to The Deva Stadium to play...

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The Torpor (And Importance) Of Pre-Season Friendlies

The concept of the “close season” is becoming a rapidly fading memory. This summer has seen the European Championships pass seamlessly into the first round of friendly matches which will fill the schedules now until the middle of next month, when the league season finally begins. These matches serve an obvious function for clubs. At a playing level, they allow managers and coaches the opportunity to fine tune squads of players with new additions included before the competitive season starts, and they can be very lucrative for all, from the smaller clubs playing their bigger local rivals to the plutocrats travelling half the length of the world to take part in a mini-tournament with a sponsors’ name and an odd-looking trophy. What, though, about the supporters? We all know that friendly matches are unlikely to provide the caffeine rush that a competitive match of any sort will do. Friendlies are football matches devoid of context, played out by lethargic players in front of crowds who haven’t quite worked up the appetite to fully get into the swing of the new season.  We’re unlikely even to learn too much about the strength of the team that we have, partly because there are so many triallists taking part at this time of year, and partly because there can be no guarantees of how strong the opposition is. Just because the eleven...

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