Well their were a few guffaws in the press room following this game
after Sky's Eddie Hemmings asked Shaun Wane whether Wigan were "a
club in crisis"?
The guffaws were justified. Yes our league form
has been poor but the same accusations were thrown at Leeds in the
past two years and they put that right. We still have a massive
opportunity to do just that with the cup final on the horizon. We
won't really know whether coach Wane's decisions to "rest" players
in recent weeks is madness or genius until the season is complete.
That said, if things go badly wrong in the next two weeks in
particular, I don't think the club realise how damaging it'll be
Last week I went into Wish FM to record their Friday pre match
"Gerr'um On Side" show and the subject of us possibly having an
advantage with so many home games towards the back end of the
season was brought up.
I had to point out that being constantly at home at the moment
is probably part of the problem. The atmosphere surrounding the DW
at the moment stinks. I don't mean noise by saying that (although
one thing leads into another), more the feeling amongst the
Our home performances have been a long standing problem and not
just since Shaun Wane became coach, this poor home form was
happening when Madge was coach as well. In the last four years
whilst the league position has actually been good, it hasn't really
been reflected at the DW.
In the last four years - against Huddersfield, Warrington, Leeds
& St Helens - Wigan have claimed just 5 wins out of 17 clashes at
home. That's only a 29% win rate.
The fact that we have, and still are, competing towards first
place in the table is testament to a, how much better we are away
from the place but also b, that we rarely lose to sides in the mid
to lower half of the table.
Trouble is though. The constant struggling in big games is
leading to much apathy amongst Wigan fans. First Huddersfield
attack on the second half and they got a ball steal penalty and you
could feel the energy drain away from the place even before they
scored. It was like in unison we all though "we know what's coming
here" and it did.
On top of poor home form you start to add in the apathy of Leeds
being able to be so poor for most of the season yet win two titles
from fifth. Saints seemingly hitting form to attempt to do the same
despite being absolute garbage during the first five months of the
season. Our two biggest away games being played on Monday Nights.
The possibility of non stop Thursday games for the whole of
September. The fact we've lost all four games against Huddersfield,
Leeds, Warrington and St Helens AWAY this year as well.
It's all combining to a massive pit of negativity surrounding
our games at home. Amazing really because we are still actually in
a great position to do a league and cup double this year but I have
to stress, I think the difference between success and failure is
such a fine line over the next few weeks.
It's quite clear that our attendances have been hit this year
and, if we don't get things right at the back end of this year,
then I'll confidently predict that season tickets sales will be hit
badly next season.
I'm only stressing the vibes I'm hearing and the unwillingness
from some to have the energy to renew season tickets next year is
startling to me. When I say some, I'm talking about people I know
who are the kind of fans who went home and away without fail. If
they don't have the energy to want to do it at the moment, then
it's only going to go one way surely?
I think the club have to accept some responsibility for the
apathy. This Sam Tomkins to New Zealand Warriors thing has dragged
it's knuckles for about five months now. How hard does it have to
be? Either confirm he is going, or confirm he is staying. It's
simple but instead a lot of fans are wasting energy worrying about
that rather than being able to focus on getting right behind the
Add on to this we've had Sam playing cup games but not in league
games, despite being in 19 man squads is, from a supporters point
of view, a bit like adding insult to injury. The last two homes
games in particular have seen supporters hopes built up that he
will be playing only to turn up at the ground to see he isn't. It
just adds to the pit of negativity I talked about. Their are
deflated before we've kicked off.
Reality is that Sam hasn't been seen by season ticket paying
supporters in the league since May 3rd against Salford and the
impression, whether right or wrong, is that Wigan are just not
playing him by choice. That impression is another negative one to
leave on a customer that is paying good money to attend regular
season games. It leaves them questioning the value of the season
Now I don't write negative articles for the sake of it. I call
things like I see it most of the time but in 12 seasons of doing
this fan site, I've always tried to reflect the opinion of
supporters as well as my own views. That's all that I'm doing here.
I might be tucked away in a radio commentary box a lot these days
but I still engage with fans on twitter a lot and bump into many in
the pubs either before or after games etc. And the impression I've
had for quite a while is that whilst on the face of it things are
good around Wigan, the fans (the most important thing) are not
feeling that positive. But I can't speak for everyone so feel free
to offer feedback.
The bottom line I think is that Wembley is going to be a huge
match for us. The result that day will either, in my view, see the
next year or two swallowed up in that pit of negativity OR it'll
see it evaporate in one foul swoop. It'll take so much pressure off
us going into the play offs knowing that we have a trophy in the
bag. Lose it and I don't see how we can pick ourselves up. And I'm
not talking about the players, I'm talking about the supporters.
The biggest thing though is that the more we are away from the DW,
the better. That's why I'm delighted we are in France this weekend.
It'll be a welcome break from playing at home and I'm really
looking forward to it.
ps Story of the match will again be added later. Knackered now -
took me ages to write that!