Wigan Athletic make the trip to London on Saturday to face Chelsea, there have been some exciting games served up down the years, but the first ever meeting between the two clubs holds a special place in the hearts of many an older Latics fan
Let’s go back in time 31 years, the Latics were drawn to play Chelsea in the 3rd round of the FA cup and that game, like this Saturdays, was also seen in most people’s eyes as a home banker, but things didn’t quite turn out as expected:
January 14th 1980 FA Cup 3rd Round
Wigan Athletic travelled to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in the 3rd round of the FA cup and came away with a 0-1 win courtesy of a first half goal by Tommy Gore
Latics were in the fourth division at the time. They had joined the Football League the previous season after making 35 applications for election.
Chelsea managed by Geoff Hurst, England’s World Cup hat-trick hero, were going through a lean period, battling for promotion from the old second division with the likes of Tommy Langley, Clive Walker and Colin Pates in their team.
The game though was still billed as a David and Goliath with the Latics being the cheeky little Northern club going down south to take on the big boys of Chelsea
The Latics hero that day was midfield terrier Tommy Gore and recently I had the chance to speak to Tommy and found he remembers the game well, he even remembers arriving at Stamford Bridge, Gore recalls: ‘They were a big club; we noticed all the expensive cars parked up outside the ground.’
At that time Latics were definitely not a big club and only had two full time administration staff and three on the coaching staff including the manager Ian McNeill and no training ground, Gore continues: ‘The facilities we had amounted to green grass and a ball, we trained on a field that was part of a public park. It didn’t matter because the spirit in the club was fantastic.’
The weather was bad that day and the game had been in doubt, Gore reckons that was a bit of a leveller: ‘It was a terrible day, absolutely freezing cold, I suppose the slippy pitch was a leveller, but we were a good team anyway and just gave it our best.’
The goal is still etched in Tommy`s memory bank, he recalls: ‘It broke on the edge of the penalty area and I hit it on the turn. It was purely instinctive.’
Tommy Gore was forced to retire from football at the age of 30 but he has kept his allegiance to the Latics and he is secretary of the past players’ association.
On the current position of the Latics as a Premier League club Tommy concludes: ‘If you’d have told anyone back then what was going to happen to the club, they’d have got the men in white coats to take you away. Unbelievable isn’t the word for it.’
Chelsea 0 Wigan Athletic 1
January 14, 1980
Gary Locke, Gary Chivers, Colin Pates, John Sparrow
Kevin Hales (Sub Gary Johnson), Ron Harris, Ian Britton, Mike Fillery
Tommy Langley, Clive Walker
Dave Fretwell, Colin Methven, Neil Davids, Joe Hinnigan
Jeff Wright, George Urquhart, Tommy Gore, Frank Corrigan
Peter Houghton, Derek Brownbill (Sub Tony Quinn)
Latics and Proud
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