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Opponent Bio: Wigan Athletic

After a convincing win last week over relegation-fodder Doncaster Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and their 4,000 strong away following don their radiation protective equipment and jump on the 575 bus to head over to local rivals Dave Whelan FC. The Wigan-based ‘club’ buoyed by the recent sacking of 'Wanderers Agent’ Owen Coyle will be looking to bounce back by recent poor form at their Dave Whelan Stadium. In this piece will look at what has made Sunday’s opponents the ‘club’ they are today.

Wigan: The first town to hold both The FA Cup and The Challenge Cup
Wigan: The first town to hold both The FA Cup and The Challenge Cup
Alex Livesey

Dave Whelan FC, known officially by some as ‘Wigan Athletic FC' was formed in 1932 after 5 previous failed attempts to establish a football club in the town (I know). The Latics would play at Springfield Park and compete in local leagues at County level. Like many provincial clubs around these years, Wigan's goal was to compete at Football League level but could not get elected to do so, the closest they came to election was in 1950 where they lost out to Scunthorpe United.

Wigan Athletic would not have to wait until 1978  before they were elected to join the Football League and entered the competition at the Fourth Division, where they would finish sixth in their inaugural season. For the next 15 years, Wigan would compete in the bottom two divisions of the Football League and struggle to make their mark on English Football, this was prominent in the stands as average attendances fell to as low as 1,845.

There were some successes on the pitch for The Latics, In the 1984-85 season, they would win the Football League Trophy and would make the Northern Final of the same competition a year later only to be swiftly put back in their place by shadow-casting local rivals Bolton Wanderers.

Unfortunately, every dog has his day and in 1995 Wigan Althetic would begin it's rise out of the pond and onto the English Football map. Former Blackburn Rovers footballer and JJB founder, Dave Whelan, purchased the club and had ambitious plans to take them all the way to the top, The club was injected with finance, symbolised by the arrival of ‘The Three Amigos', which included former Wigan and now Everton manager, Roberto Martinez, the club would also win the Football League Trophy in 1999, beating Millwall 1-0 at Wembley.

This period would also see legendary former Bolton Wanderers manager Bruce Rioch have an ill-fated spell at the club, leaving half way through his first season in charge, this would be his last managerial post in England to date.

Wigan Athletic's ambition was still burning and in the following summer, they hired promising young manager Paul Jewell. Within two years, Jewell had taken the club to the second tier for the first time in their ‘history'. Despite an impressive start to life in the Second Tier, Wigan would just miss out on promotion to the Premier League, this would not stop the clubs rise and one year later, the heathens were promoted to the Premier League.

Wigan initially took the Premier League by storm, finishing as high as tenth and reaching the League Cup Final, smashed 4-0 in the final by Manchester United.  The following year, Dave Whelan FC would be involved in a relegation battle remembered vividly due to the Carlos Tevez saga at rivals West Ham, in a final day epic at Bramall lane against Sheffield United, a David Unsworth penalty would ensure its survival.

The club would then spend most of it's 8 years in the Premier League trying to stay in it.  The Latics  enjoyed some memorable moments competing at the highest level. A particular highlight was an 11th Place finish under the management of Steve Bruce with the goals of Egyptian Striker Amir Zaki playing an integral part. Wigan's finest hour came more recently, under the management of  former midfielder Roberto Martinez, with his flamboyant side winning the FA Cup in dramatic fashion as Ben Watson's late header was enough to defeat favourites Manchester City 1-0 at Wembley.

The achievement appeared to be the summit of the rise of the club, bankrolled by Dave Whelan and perhaps Wigan were robbed opportunity to enjoy the moment properly as they were swiftly relegated to The Championship and charismatic manager Martinez left for pastures new.

Wigan would appoint former Bolton Wanderers' player and manager, Owen Coyle with a mixed reaction from the Wigan Fans, all fifteen of them. Coyle's time at the Dave Whelan Stadium would be ill fated and as soon as results turned, so did the fans and Coyle was replaced by Brentford manager Uwe Rosler who, like any young manager, has promised to bring his brand of attacking football to the Dave Whelan Stadium.