Wigan Athletic Vs Manchester City, I was there, not in my usual seat oh no not for this one, I was to sample the full VIP treatment, born in Norley Hall, brought up in Scholes and now rubbing shoulders with the toffs, the day I sipped from the corporate cup.
Just for a bit of fun, as you do, I`d entered a competition on the Mail on Line, the prize being a VIP Experience at the Wigan Athletic Vs Manchester City game on Sunday 18th October, but to my total shock I received a telephone call saying I had won.
Now being cynical I thought it was a wind up and actualy phoned the club to check it out, yep they said I had won, I let out an almighty Yeeeeessssss.
First off I have to say that I am a season ticket holder and usually rough it in the East Stand with my flask of coffee and rum, big coat, gloves and peaked cap to keep the low afternoon sun out of my eyes but corporate day was going to be different.
To add to the excitement and anticipation I received an email from the Latics confirming that me and guest would be dining in the Coors suite and we would need to dress appropriately, so suited and booted, stinking of aftershave worbo and son of worbo set off for the DW Stadium 2 hours and thirty minutes before kick-off, giddy as little kippers
On arriving at the stadium reception we were greeted by very pleasant staff, if you know what I mean, given our tickets and told to take the lift to the 3rd floor to the Coors Lounge.
If you have ever been to one of the Latics lounges then the Coors is just like the rest, if not just imagine a room full of tables set out for dining at and covered with white linen table cloths, in the corner a bar area and down one side a massive window looking out onto the pitch, there were also several TV`s stationed around the room showing the Blackburn Vs Burnley game, it felt a little like Christmas.
Me and the lad made our way to a table with our sponsors name on it, bet188.com, yes we had been sponsored, true VIP`s, a table for four, but where were the other two? Who were they?
I didn`t wait to find out who or where they were and cracked open the complimentary wine, start as you mean to continue I thought. Just before the meal was served Alan and Julie joined us, they were the other guests of bet188.com, the other winners, and guess what, they are City fans?.no way. I couldn`t believe I was going to spend the afternoon with the oppo`s, not only was we seated at the table together but their stadium seats were also next to ours, great.
In fairness they were a really nice couple City fans all their life, we had a bit of banter but they agreed that we should have won the game, whoops getting a bit ahead of myself here.
A four course lunch, 2 bottles of wine and a jug of coffee were served up for us; we had a fantastic table over looking the pitch and 10 minutes before kick-off we took our seats in the West Stand, the first thing you notice about the seats are that they`re padded, padded seats no slumming it today chaps.
The first half went pretty quick, we were surrounded by City supporters, all out on their corporate bashes, worbo and son of worbo were giving it large and getting a fair bit back, all good natured but then, one minute into stoppage time at the end of the half Hugo fired a shot in, Given parries at full stretch, in crashes little Charlie and its 1-0 to the Latics.
Now if you have ever been in the midst of opposition supporters when your side has scored the feeling of elation is quite literally magnified 100%, I couldn`t cheer because of the raw euphoria that I was feeling, so I jumped to my feet and punched the air, the tanoy as always when we score played Tom Hawk and doing a little jig I can still see the three rows of City supporters all sat with their heads in their hands, magic. The whistle went, half time.
There was a buzz going through the room when we got back in and sat amongst lots of lubricated City fans it was quite amusing to hear the talk of doom and desperation and how it was all falling apart, they are a self-tortured lot.
Waitress service at the table was spot on, a wave of the hand and a young wench comes and takes your order and minutes later brings two pints of Guinness, fantastic, the half time break really flew and we missed the kick-off with everyone trying to get back to their seats on the last minute, whilst queuing at the door to get back into the stand I was watching the game on the TV, it was delayed by about 10 seconds and I knew by the cheers from the North Stand before Petrov had even received the ball on the TV that it was 1-1.
The rest of the game went quickly, we had plenty of banter with the City fans around us especially with the Zabaleta sending off and the Wright-Phillips dive/trip which ever side you were on.
In the end, if my memory serves, a 1-1 draw was a fair result and we trotted back into the Coors lounge on final whistle to really hit the hospitality bottle.
Hendry Thomas and Maynor Figueroa were brought into the lounge about 30 minutes after the whistle had gone, it was nice to see them but they don`t speak English and I don`t speak Spanish, they had their pictures taken with various guests of the day, one guy, a Latics man, was celebrating his 80th birthday and he was sat on the next table to us.
We were probably the last to leave at around 7:30, I was the worst for wares and more than a little inebriated and just to prove it I scooped all the left behind complimentary programmes off the tables, I got 14, so if anyone wants one. Also, showing my upbringing I tried to escape with a bottle of wine from one of the tables, I didn`t manage to get out of the door with it and I should imagine that myself and the lad looked like the Chuckle Brothers trying to get the bottle in my pocket without anyone seeing
A fantastic day and I would recommend it to anyone celebrating a special event or occasion. If you have a business a great way to entertain your clients also, I wouldn`t like to do it every week but once or twice a season would be fine.
I woke up on the Monday morning though with a banging headache and dry mouth, starting with a cold, nah, just a consequence of the day I sipped from the corporate cup.
The two reprobates enjoying the corporate experience
Just on a side note, I ventured out to the West Stand once the ground had emptied after the game and it was eerie but very peaceful, a kind of magic in the air, gave me shivers up and down my spine and reminded me of the feeling I used to get at Springfield Park.
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