Wigan Athletic
The DW Stadium 

Ground No. 55
Visited - Tuesday 4th January 2005
Result - Wigan Athletic 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Coca-Cola Championship
Attendance - 10,135

At the start of the season when the fixtures were announced, this game had been scheduled for 24 hours earlier, on the Bank Holiday Monday, but on police advice it had been moved back, which had given me a chance to visit another ground, York Street, home to Boston United.

Because of that trip the day beforehand, I'd kind of forgotten about this game really, being just another Wolves match, with the result pretty predictable I wasn’t especially looking forward to it, but it was a new ground, and quite a good one at that, so when the day came, and I was on the train heading northwards, I was in a fairly good mood, hoping that we may actually get something.

It had gone dark by the time I got to Wigan, around about 6:30pm, and after walking straight to the ground I did attempt to take some pictures, but the lighting outside of the stadium was non-existent, meaning that it was pointless, and so I gave up after a while, and went off to try and find the club shop. 

After walking around the entire ground with no luck, I decided to ask a steward, who informed me “there's one in town, but that will be closed now, you could try asking someone else!” so undeterred, off I went and found another one, who gave the following reply- “im not totally sure really, I think its up that way”. Getting slightly discerned by now, I went off in the vague direction that he’d pointed me in, only to find a couple of programme sellers, and after asking the one who was in an Everton shirt, standing next to his friend with a Man Utd hat on, he pointed me in the right direction, so off I went (again!). After that I eventually found the shop, with it being a bit further up the road, away from the stadium, which seemed quite odd, as it would have seemed to have been a better idea to have it right next to the ground, where the fans are. That idea was backed up when after entering it at 7:10pm, 50 minutes before kick off (when most places would be buzzing) there were just 5 people in it, myself, two other Wolves fans and the staff! I was well aware of the people of Wigan having a pretty fickle reputation when it comes to football, but this really did seem unreal. The lack of people in the shop wasn’t the only surprise, its actually far more geared towards the Rugby side of operations at the JJB, which wasn’t so surprising really, but what was most of all, something I've never seen anywhere else, was that they had a Manchester United section, as well as a back wall full of shirts from other clubs across the world. I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing, a lot of excuses made for Wigan having relatively low attendances are because of the bigger teams nearby, but the club really weren’t doing themselves any favours here.

After leaving the shop, I walked back to the ground and went in just before 7:30pm. The inside of the stand we were in, at first wasn’t particularly impressive, although the concourse directly underneath the seats was quite good, being wide and spacious, also the cheerleaders kitted out rather flimsily whilst collecting for the Tsunami Disaster helped brighten it up a bit!

After finding a friend, we found a place to sit and admired the view. We had been given unreserved seats, and had chosen to sit right on the halfway line, about two-thirds up. The stands are particularly steep here, which make for a good view, and also help increase the size of the stadium itself, if not the capacity. It was quite an interesting ground, with two identical stands at each end, and the two sides being more or less identical to each other as well, no expense has been spared, and it is certainly an improvement on the bland bowl type designs of Leicester and Southampton, but somehow, a feeling that grew stronger throughout the night, was that something about it wasn’t right. I (or my friend), couldn’t quite put our fingers on it, but it was just that unspeakable something, it’s a great ground, but somehow it feels like it wasn’t built for football. Obviously the Rugby team are bigger than their association counterparts, and perhaps it was that feeling that it was built for them, and not Athletic. Kind of like when you go past somewhere, anywhere with stands, a Cricket ground, Athletics stadium, Swimming baths, that you look at and gaze imagining the crowds there, but none of those ever quite hold the grasp of a football ground, I couldn’t say what was wrong, its just that je ne sais quoi, that unmentionable thing, and unfortunately the JJB Stadium just doesn’t have it.

After taking some pictures, the game got started, and despite a promising start, we fell behind to some poor defending from a corner, which let Nathan Ellington score his first with a free header on 17 minutes. We went back at Wigan, but 8 minutes later after another corner, a very dubious penalty was given, which Ellington dispatched with ease putting them 2-0 up. The rest of the half was end to end, although they're wasn’t too many chances of note, with Wigan going into the break looking good for their lead.

A half-time substitution of Paul Ince on for Andrews didn’t really make things any better for us, and although Ince was up for it on his return to action, we looked worse in the second half, creating few chances, and made Wigan look a good side, despite them not doing anything of any particular note, so it finished with another defeat, and a bit of unrest among the travelling support, which could have spilled over into violence at the end of the game, but fortunately despite heated exchanges between the fans nothing ever came of it.

The atmosphere throughout was fairly good, with us being more vocal than we have been for quite a long time, but there wasn’t anything really coming from the Wigan end, who had another poor attendance of just over 10,000.
We left the ground and walked over to the car park, where I managed to get a lift home, although the journey back wasn’t too brilliant, being stuck in traffic for most of the way out of Wigan and on the M6 past Manchester, but we got back in one piece having endured another instantly forgettable performance from Wolves.

Overall it wasn’t too bad a trip, I'd like to go back there when the ground is full, although again, I'm not sure it would ever have that real feel of a football stadium. I know its impossible now, but another place I would have liked to have visited was Springfield Park, the majority of people who did go there mostly commented on what a dump it was, but I cant help feeling that even in a crap ground, a visit there would have been more enjoyable than one to the JJB.

The South Stand

The West Stand

The North Stand

The North Stand

The West Stand

The South Stand

The DW Stadium Panoramic 1
18.08.09 vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

The DW Stadium Panoramic 2
18.08.09 vs Wolverhampton Wanderers


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