RAMBLE: Wigan 0-1 Wednesday
Football on a Friday night. It’s just not right.
Friday nights are there for post work drinks, post work drinks on an empty stomach and talking shop after a long week. Or going to the cinema. Or getting a bottle of red, a take away and falling asleep in front of Netflix.
It’s our chance to unwind after the week gone and the weekend to come. It’s not about going to Wigan on a cold and wet night.
But we are where we are. Brexit Britain and Friday night football.
As such, I finished work and waited for Mark to pick me up, whilst listening to the Radio 4 Film Programme (a must listen for all cinephiles).
Mark appears and we’re en route to Lancashire (via the others).
We set across the other side of Sheffield and without drama pick up Kieran and James, so it’s just Tom to pick up. Apparently Tom had already warned Mark that he wanted the front seat, but pipes up saying that whoever has the front seat has to navigate and Tom isn’t capable of that.
I was also comfy and not moving.
Tom appears and suddenly, drama as his bag has split as he was getting in the car. There’s always one and it’s usually Tom.
Finally, everybody’s in and we’re heading across the Peak District towards Manchester.
This was also our first away game with Kieran who was freshening up our usual pre-match conversation. The consensus was that Rhodes would start but Kieran has his reservations, saying that he rather break in Rhodes‘ impact from the bench.
Rhodes would start at the first opportunity
Mark asks if we’re taking the same route as we did last year:
Me: We didn’t go to Wigan last year. It’s a new ground for me.
James: None of us have been here before.
Mark: Yes, we have, we went last year, I remember.
James: No Mark, we weren’t in the same division.
I was staring to hope that we were nearly there and not just because my sole beer for the journey was finished. Unfortunately we were half way and took a pit stop just before we hit the motorway.
This is also meant, for the first time in ages, we had the Mark Hamper. It’s a thing of beauty. All the cheese sandwiches you could want and cold beers.
He knows how to look after us, does Marko. These are great sandwiches as they’re so simple: good bread, buttered and slabs of good cheese. Less is more!
It was also clear that the temperature has plummeted. It was COLD.
Thankfully we got back in the car and Google Maps was opened on my phone to fulfill my navigating duties. This was time to CONCENTRATE – and remember the difference between left and right.
How hard can it be? (Google Maps)
It was all going well and there was a roundabout on the map approaching. Or is it a junction, and is it the junction that we’re passing now? SHIT.
I check the map and we’re heading AWAY from Wigan. Oops, the route readjusts and I quietly try to tell Mark to takes the next Junction and go back on ourselves. Face saved (just about).
Navigation errors sorted and we begin to approach Wigan, as Mark asks if this was the road we used for Wigan away last year.
No, Mark, we weren’t in the same division!
Thankfully it turns out that Eddie and Co are in a pub that’s ten minutes walk from the ground and has parking! And we get there to take the last spot just in time for a quick 2 pints before the game.
Kieran got a round in (amazingly getting change from a tenner for 4 beers!) as the rest of us relieved our bladders.
Eddie’s mate who lives locally assured us that it’s ten-minute walk despite Google claiming it was twenty.
Given the extra time we’ve got, James gets another round in and we start to get excited about Rhodes, except Eddie’s who’s more excited about Sasso – even leaving him a message in French on social media.
Eddie’s mate gives us the heads up leave so we all get up and head out. Except he’s nowhere to be seen. He’s vanished.
We have no idea how to get to the ground, let alone his ten-minute saving shortcut. My inner Mainwaring took over. Google Maps was out and I had a route. Follow me!
A dodgy path, a council estate and a steel bridge over the river later and we somehow made kick off!
Wednesday lined up with Rhodes making his debut in place of Winnall; Pudil and Sasso were in for the injured Fox and Lees.
It was also immediately apparent that it was wet and cold. I had my big hoody on, so up goes the big hood. I don’t care what it looks like.
The game also struggled to warm up as both teams looked very cagey and if anything Wigan looked the more threatening.
We didn’t look at the races early on and the likes of Sasso and Jones were giving the ball away a lot more than normal. But from about the half hour mark, you could see Wednesday were starting to hit their stride with some good moves and a succession of corners.
Sasso beaten to the ball
It looked like a spell of pressure that could lead to a goal. This could be our chance to really control the game.
As half time approached Tom went down for half time beers. Just as he left there was a good ball forward by Sasso and suddenly it was into the box and into their net via what looked like an awful deflection!
I got really excited as I thought it was Rhodes who scored but it turned out it was a Wallace goal with Rhodes assist.
HALF TIME – Wigan 0-1 Wednesday
With this game being on a Friday night on tele it meant there was a relatively low away crowd but the concourse was mayhem.
Wallace turns to celebrate
I went for a wee and looked for the others but couldn’t see anything beyond a swell of Wednesdayites.
“Excuse me?” Nope.
I squeeze through another load of people.
“Sorry, excuse me?” Urgh. I give up and text James. Turns out that they were opposite where the stairs to our seats are.
Oh, I’ve just managed to get lost for no reason. I squeeze back through expected a beer waiting for me but it turns out that Tom is STILL queuing.
We eventually got our pints very close the second half starting, and for some reason they turned the screens off. Typical!
One quick pint later and I was back to my seat for about 48 minutes, turning to Mark and asking if I’d missed anything: Nope.
And that really could have summed up the second half. It was even more cold and we were getting wet. The football was not good and we were poor.
McManaman came on shortly and initially livened things up as the game dragged on.
Then they broke through but the thankfully the offside flag stopped Connolly’s effort from counting. It was at the far end and were behind the opposite goal, so there was no way of knowing if it was a good decision or not.
I thought that Abdi helped to hold up the midfield and we saw out the three points.
FULL TIME: Wigan 0-1 Wednesday
This was the very definition of the ugly win and there are times when that’s needed.
It also further confirms my theory that we don’t have results and performances that match.
We’ve played really well at times this season and not got three points but then games where we’ve been poor and found a way to win.
Three points: all that matters?
This firmly goes in the latter column.
It wasn’t that dissimilar last season. There were a lot of forgettable 1-0 or 2-1 wins last season – the trouble is people remember the Arsenal game, or the 3-0 Boxing Day win or Brighton in the play-offs.
It wasn’t all like that and the ability to win ugly should be admired, not criticised.
Anyway, it was back to the pub for one final pint to let the traffic clear and head home with three points in the boot.
I had one request: I intend to sleep on the way back so somebody else can navigate.
Kieran volunteered and it was headphones and time to switch off.
Before I knew it we were on the Snake Pass and snow was falling heavily with Mark creeping along at 30mph.
There was some concern but I just drifted off and was grateful for my bed!
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive and @jpowls