Dinosaur Whelan Is Embarrassing And Sickening The People Of Wigan
Wednesday 20 November 2014 was a sad day for Wigan Athletic Football Club. It was a sad day for the town of Wigan.
A town that was built on cotton and coal, a town built on socialist values. So socialist you ‘can put a red rosette on a pig and it would get in for Labour’ as the old saying goes.
Yet when the current incumbent MP Lisa Nandy questioned the rumoured appointment of Malky Mackay as the new Wigan Athletic manager she was ridiculed by supporters for “poking her nose in.”
There is a train of thought amongst many that her concerns prompted the Wigan Athletic chairman and Conservative Party donator Dave Whelan to appoint the abhorrent Mackay to the post simply to spite her. His subsequent comments that, “She’s not a Wigan lass, so she doesn’t understand football. But we can try and give her some help” was disrespectful and the words of an arrogant and completely out of touch old man.
Whelan not only went ahead and appointed Mackay as manager of Wigan Athletic he then went on an anti-charm offensive that Chemical Ali would have dismissed as being too ridiculous.
It started with the joint press conference that he and Mackay gave after the appointment. Mackay looked like a dead man walking while Whelan – as ever – appeared to be on a different planet, stating that Mackay had said sorry and what he’d said wasn’t that bad anyway.
Needless to say the Wigan Athletic support is pretty much split on the matter - as I guess any football club’s support would be. Some are welcoming him to the club as though he’s the new Mourinho, others are wallowing in a racist being at the club, others think he’s the best man for the job and sod it, while most are just embarrassed and despairing with the whole saga.
The ‘best man for the job’ argument is sad. Is this what football has become? Is winning games, getting three points more important that decent morals and ethics? Over on twitter, @Marshcp summed it up perfectly stating: “If the best man for the job is a racist sexist homophobe… Then he isn’t the best man for the job.” It really is that simple.
I was in tears when Jason Roberts – a black man from London - put the ball in the back of Reading’s net to get Wigan into the Premier League and a year or so later put the ball into the back of Arsenal’s net to take the team to Cardiff for the League Cup final. And of course like thousands of Wigan Athletic fans I was in tears in May 2013 when the team lifted the FA Cup, with a team containing Emmerson Boyce, Arouna Kone and others from right across the globe.
The joy was swiftly replaced with the pain of Owen Coyle's reign before Uwe Rösler restored some pride. A modern football manager that took the club to the brink of the Premier League and within kissing distance of another FA Cup final.
This term something has gone horribly wrong at the club and many were saddened but unsurprised when Rösler went. I don’t know what went on but Whelan was his bullish self, announced there were more than 20 applications for the job and promptly gave it to a man who is under investigation by the FA for sending racist, sexist, homophobic anti-semitic text messages. And they are just the ones we know about.
If last Wednesday was a sad day for Wiganers then Thursday was beyond belief as Whelan managed to insult the Jewish and Chinese races. At that point even Mackay must have wondered what on earth was going on.
Whelan’s words had no place in 2014; in any country in any town and especially not in my town. The town that was built on cotton and coal, a town built on socialist values and a town that dances to the sound of Northern Soul.
The town that embraced Edwin Starr and Betty Wright and took black American musicians and their music into its heart. The place that welcomed brilliant rugby players such as Billy Boston, Jason Robinson and Martin Offiah to this little northern pit town while its football club’s brilliant ambassador Emmerson Boyce is loved by all. Where black southern kids like Jason Roberts and Nathan Ellington will always be in the record books and in our memories and where Catalan Roberto Martinez is one of our own. Then there are the people who work tirelessly throughout the town running diversity programmes, helping the newly-arrived people start a new life, help women escape sexual abuse and domestic violence and all the people that live there that know right from wrong.
As somebody that works in football it annoys me when people say that football is racist. Anybody that has been around dressing rooms these last few years will tell you that it is one of the least racist places in society. The young lads that play and love the game couldn’t give a toss what colour or religion their teammate is yet every time people express this optimistic view dinosaurs like Dave Whelan rear their ugly heads.
Sadly this time the dinosaur is representing my town and my team and like many others I am sickened to the bones by it.