The 22,000 Wiganers arrived early, as we emptied from our coaches and milled around, the atmosphere was buzzing. For once we were not titled as the underdogs, and I think we all liked that. The neutrals would even back us for a win today, just so they can see this small town from Lancashire reach the final.
The team news brought no surprises for Wigan, apart from the return of Ali Al Habsi. While Millwall had decided they wanted to contain us, playing a five man midfield in order to stop us playing our passing flowing football. How wrong they would be.
The teams came out, Wigan in their vibrant red (returning to our roots of 1932) and Millwall in their traditional dark blue. It was Wigan who settled into the tie quickest, and looked the most willing to get the ball down and forward. Within side the first five minutes Jordi Gomez had to be stopped from scoring, a great challenge by Mark Beavers.
But that set the tone for the first half. James McCarthy in the middle was comfortable winning the ball and looking to find Jordi Gomez who was dropping into space. The Spaniard then only had to look up to find one of our excellent trio up front.
Arouna Kone although the striker didn't get on the score sheet was the vocal point of all our good attacking play. Holding the ball up then playing it off to Callum or Shaun around him, or looking to turn and run into the channels. This sort of form show why Wigan have started to improve in recent weeks.
It would be Kone that would prove the difference in the first half, with a beautiful chipped ball into the box. The striker turning Danny Shittu and finding space, managed to pick out the free Shuan Maloney in the middle of the box. The midfielder had dropped of mark Jack Smith. That left Maloney with a side foot volley to score.
1-0 to the empty seats rang out from the Wigan supporters.
We were enjoying our day out, as where our players in the first half. David Forde had to be at his best to denny Kone, Gomez and McManaman in the rest of the first half. Kone breaking through on goal saw his toe on the ball blocked; Gomez's side footed striker was parried away; and Callum curling effort was beaten out for a corner.
At half time none could have argued that Wigan Athletic deserved their lead. But you felt at 1-0 anything can happen, and if Millwall got a goal back they could be spurred on to win this one.
This is where you have to give credit to Kenny Jacketts team. For the next twenty five minutes of the game, they were the better side. They locked to get in behind and in our faces to cause us some real problems, spurred on by their support (this prior to the scenes of violence) you felt they could nick one.
Paul Scharner was at his best here. While Antolin Alcaraz went to close the ball and block, Scharner tied up the rest. Winning tackles and headers to stop Andy Keogh getting through on goal, and that proved to tell for Millwall, they couldn't find that final pass to open us up.
It would cost them in the end, but with every set piece you felt a sense of could this be it. Shittu and Beavers trying to get their headers onto something goal wards, and twice Scharner cleared the ball away, once intentional the other he knew nothing about it as the ball hit him.
From one of these corners though Wigan broke, and they broke decisively. Jordi Gomez heading the ball to Arouna Kone. The striker using his pace and power shrugged off two challenges before finding Shaun Maloney. The midfielder got the edge of the box before giving it to Gomez.
We groan as he slowed the play down, but we underestimated him. The Spaniard was waiting for the lovey curling run of Callum McManaman who managed to slip the offisde trap and collect the pass of Jordi's and round the keeper. The winger placed the ball home, before going absolutely banana's; it wasn't just him. 22,000 other people where enjoying it as well.
That goal killed Millwall and with 12 minutes to go, Wigan settled on the ball and just looked to pick them off. Both Gomez and Kone pulled saves out of Forde; but the keeper kept his pride. On no account had the keeper failed his team, it was defensive errors that had cost them.
So when the final whistle went it was the Wiganers who were celebrating a historic victory, as Millwall where left heartbroken. Their players should take heart in their second half display as they could have scored and game been different.
As it now stand, Millwall's contribution to the match is tarred by the violent scenes displayed by the minority of their fans. I will say no more about that. The game was played on the pitch between 22 players who all shone, and showed why the football in England is not to be rivaled anywhere else in the world.