Forget Premier League survival, Wigan fans will be on cloud nine for years after cup triumph



Between now and next Saturday, you may have the good fortune to happen upon the glee-soaked face of a supporter of Wigan Athletic FC. All teeth and tips on where the best watering holes are within reasonable distance of Wembley, you'll have little option but to talk to them about football.

Despite their trophy-lifting excursions of the weekend, the most pressing matter at the DW Stadium concerns which league they'll be playing their football in next season. Cut adrift at the bottom after virtually gifting Swansea a winning goal, Wigan now have to take maximum points from their two remaining games to haul either Sunderland or Villa into the relegation spot they currently occupy.

In theory, it is an achievable task for a team who beat the recently dethroned champions of England. The Latics tightened up at the back, bared their teeth going forward, and stretched the most expensive team in the country like cheap tights over a pool table. But if it was that simple, they'd not be down there in the first place.

You might even want to ask your Wigan fan about that. How can a team that plays such good football every single week, and who are coached by one of the highest-rated managers in the league, find themselves with it all to do at the business end of the season? How realistic is a repeat of last season's shock victory at The Emirates? Can they ride the momentum through the last two games? Is Martinez on his way out regardless?

You could ask them about how worried they are for the club's future as well. Should the unthinkable happen, are they at all well equipped to come back up? Will the so-called bigger clubs look at adaptable, dependable players like James McArthur, or Callum McManaman, a man whose face will now be permanently etched into the despairing nightmares of Gael Clichy?

Would they bounce back up or end up on the same slippery slope that's seen Wolves tumble perilously out of the top two tiers? Is Dave Whelan now simply a millionaire in the billionaire's sport? Is this the end of Wigan Athletic as you know it?

Wigan fans: If any of you should come across these queries on your travels, simply smile and have a small laugh to yourself. Look your inquisitor in the eye and tell them that you really couldn't care either way. Then show them the photo on your phone of you and your Uncle Tom dancing around the local boozer with an inflatable FA Cup on your head.

Tell them that, after your club has scratched around the cesspools and backwaters of English football for 81 years, finally having a massive domestic honour to call your own is worth all the relegations in the world. If you're old enough, tell them that you once waited anxiously to see if the club could get enough votes to be elected into the Football League itself, or that the club's fiercest local rivals aren't Bolton or Blackburn, but the Northern League's Chorley FC. If you're young, just tell them about Titus Bramble.

Tell them that nobody has even sat their grandkids down and recounted the afternoon their team clung to their Premier League status, but explain that Ben Watson's dramatic late winner will be reenacted in the garden at every single family get-together. Tell them that managers, players, and finishing positions all come and go over the years, but the sight of Emerson Boyce pogoing around to We Are The Champions is the sort of thing that burns itself onto one's retinas.

Tell them that pulling the team bus through the money spinning drive-thru of the Premier League so that they can feast on a veritable Happy Meal of TV Licensing deals and corporate sponsorship still isn't the be-all-and-end-all of supporting your team. Tell them you'll still be just as proud to wear a blue and white scarf around your neck on an away day to Bournemouth next season, where you'll spend the whole trip talking to total strangers about that day in the capital that made you remember why you love your club, and this game, so much in the first place.

Tell them that there's more to life than simply just surviving.

Read more of Adam's columns.

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