So, we’re closing in on the season’s end, and there’s a good chance that this may prove to be last orders for us at the Premier League Arms.
Let’s be honest, we’ve outstayed our welcome for the past five years, and there have been many people who feel we have ruined their little elite gathering, and they have been continually waiting for us to drink up, shut up, and f-f-f-finally leave.
Our demise has been predicted every year, with us being perennial favourites for the drop with the ‘we, who know best’ crew, and in some peoples’ eyes, we are already being handed our coats, with the door held wide open, and a glass collector waiting to whip our pint pot away the second it’s drained and touches the table. They would love nothing better to wave ta-ra to that north-west, north-east, wherever they are from football team, where everyone likes rugby, and they can’t even fill their poxy little stadium. Laughing stocks do not belong on the top tier guest list.
If it is indeed the end of our unexpected Premier League lock-in, it has been one heck of an experience, and one that even the most ardent modern football detractor cannot deny was worth just a little dabble for a little rabble of a football club such as ourselves. Springfield with its Tommy Gore and Neil Rimmer were great, but surely a bit of perspective: Shearer, Giggs, Henry, and Gerrard at the DW? Would you honesty have imagined this even seven years ago?
When we made our grand entrance in 2005, the regulars at this house of most ill-repute spun on their barstools, glared at their uninvited and pretty much unknown guests, chuckled, tutted their patronisations, and muttered behind the backs of their hands that we’d be away again at the first given opportunity. Novelty or not for a season or so, there’s was more chance of an uneaten meat pie being left at a Warriors match that us ever belonging in the company of the big boys. From the beginning, their view was ‘There you go…here’s one on us. Now drink up, then off you pop’. Everyone felt from day one that we should really be in somewhere much more downmarket – somewhere befitting of our ilk and stature.
But no, we didn’t leave, and despite the obvious animosity, unwelcoming cliques, financial bullying, media generalisations, typecasting, prejudice and widespread derogatory remarks, we have remained steadfastly indignant, and have even on occasion jumped our turn on the pool table, have used the darts captain’s tungsten tips without asking, and have deliberately sat on the fives and threes table while usual clientele stood around shaking their heads with their arms tightly folded.
As far as getting up noses goes, we are football snuff. Or, to continue with this pub thing, we’re a bottle of Budweiser amongst the real ale barrels of a beer festival. We aren’t wanted, and there will be many people who will rub their hands together at the thought of Wigan Athletic disappearing from their sexy fixture lists.
Over time, if at all possible, we have become more unfashionable, uglier, more uninteresting, and even more unwelcome. We are a minor distraction that draws the attention for a while, then becomes a goddamn nuisance. We are akin to a stray dog invading a pitch during a match: everyone laughs and cheers for the first minute, but soon wish someone had a big net to catch the annoying flea ridden mutt.
We are all these things, to all these people, and you know what? I love it, and I am hoping with all the hope I can muster that it can continue again next season.
But, this season isn’t over yet, and one thing it’s proven to be so far is unpredictable. There is still the chance, especially if we win the next two games, that we may stay up, and how gratifying will that be?
Though we are on a knife-edge, with a real risk of going out of the Premier League, and everyone expects us to do just that, but then at the last minute, imagine their faces if we don’t….
The pub door slams behind us as we leave. Everyone laughs, then carries on as if we’d never been there, only to be disturbed by the sound of the door creaking open again.
‘Nah, changed our minds. We’re staying a bit longer. Where’s them darts?’
Come Wigan! Get behind them this weekend and let it continue.
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