It's a brisk 20 minute walk from downtown past Wigan Pier and along the towpath of the Leeds-Liverpool canal to the DW Stadium(named after chairman Dave Whelan, former pro player and rich entrepreneur owner of the club and DW Sports Fitness).
The modern stadium is shared with The Wigan Warriors, the legendary Rugby League giant in their cherry and white hooped jerseys. The town is in Greater Manchester and The Latics find it difficult to compete with nearby City and United and even Bolton Wanderers and the Merseyside clubs.
It's a friendly place with great seats for £20, far less than other Premier clubs and even greedy Leeds United who we watched in The Championship 24 hours earlier for £35. The opponents were mega wealthy CHELSEA, crowned Champions of Europe just 3 months ago.
If you arrived late then the match was already won and lost. ONE-NIL to the West London club within 70 seconds, and TWO-NIL within 6 minutes. You could catch the bus with almost all the Wigan players and not recognize any of them, whereas the visitors are world famous...and infamous faces.
From Frank Lampard pass to new Belgian £36 million signing Eden Hazard, a neat turn and slotted pass to Branislav Ivanovic and a sidefooted goal past Ali Al Habsi the goalkeeper from exotic Oman. Hazard was clumsilly clattered in the box by Ramis in the 6th minute and Lampard scored from the spot kick.
For 67 years Athletic played at Springfield Park, mainly in the non leagues until their new home was built in 1999 and 4 years earlier they were bought by Dave Whelan who was making millions from JJB Sports. He played for Blackburn Rovers in the 1960 FA Cup Final at Wembley, but broke his leg in the first half and Rovers lost to Wolves 3-0.
Wigan's Victor Moses, their Nigerian international, is a target of Chelsea and caused some consternation with exciting runs, but the superb Chelsea back row of John Terry, David Luiz, Ivanovic and Joe Cole were elegant, fast and unpenetrable. Peter Cech in goal was rarely troubled despite constant second half attacks that the home fans roared on and on. Boss Roberto Martinez was well pleased with their fight back and spirit.
The other Roberto-De Matteo of Stamford Bridge, has a very talented addition to his squad with Hazard, and another newcomer, 20 year old Oscar dos Santos Emboada, 26 million from Internacional of Brazil, came on as a substitute for Hazard. They will take some stopping in England and Europe. A JOY TO WATCH.