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Wigan: Blue or Red?

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There has been a dispute between the two teams in Wigan for a while but I ask is Wigan slowly turning blue?

Shaun Botterill

This strong hatred between the two teams supporters seemed to have got worse when Dave Whelan tried uniting the two teams with the DW Stadium but that just seemed to make things worse. If anyone was asked what Wigan was they would often reply with "an unpleasant place" but often with a different choice of vocabulary that cannot be used here but more to the point Wigan has always been a Rugby Town, and has only been rivaled in the past few with the sudden rise and success of Wigan Athletic.

First off, which club is better supported? Wigan Warriors has been the best supported Rugby League club for the past 3 season but the comparison of a giant in the Super League and Premier League minor has to be taken into account. Wigan Warriors' average attendance last season was 16,043 which was over 1,000 more than the next club (St. Helens) whilst Wigan Athletic's attendances last year was over 3,000 more than the Warriors with an average of 19,375. With both teams in the top flight of their respective sports, Wigan Athletic were vastly more supported last year, could this show a change in support? Or could this be due to the high quality players that were coming to the DW Stadium each week? (No I don't mean Ronnie Stam, I mean the Sergio Aguero's, Van Persie's and Suarez's).Wigan Athletic are forever being called the empty seats are constantly associated with no fans but Jason Taylor of Wigan's supporters club defended Wigan's attendance at Wembley for the Semi-Final and had this to say to the Independent:

"Our supporter base has grown phenomenally over the last 15 years," said Taylor. "If you go back in history our crowds have gone from 1,200 to 15,000. They are continuing to grow but we are still a long way behind Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton, who have a lot of fans in the town," he said.

"We have already sold more than our average attendance and we have only got around 12,000 season ticket holders, with around 25 per cent of those aged under 16. So even if we sell 20,000 tickets then we have sold thousands more than usual."

Wigan Athletic did get the higher attendances at home but yet Wigan Warriors did manage to sell out their 35,000 allocation at Wembley for the Challenge Cup Final yet Wigan sold 25,000 for the Final, 14,000 for the Semi-Final and a mere 5000 for the Community Shield could this be due to financial cost? I know my day out at Wembley for the final did cost a small fortune and for the working class town of Wigan, can we really afford 3 trips down to Wembley in 5 months? Also as Taylor commented, Wigan Athletic are surrounded by massive clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton who are supported in Wigan where as Wigan Warriors is the Man United of Rugby League and will not get effected by "big clubs".

As I make my trips on away days and indeed to the DW Stadium, I see the majority of Wigan Athletic's fan base to be aged between 14-22, this holds good signs for Wigan's attendances to come and is usrely the same for the Warrios.

Next I look at history, Wigan Athletic were founded in 1932, 60 years later than the Warriors which reflects massively on the amount of success the two clubs have had but do trophies necessarily mean success? The Warriors have many accolades, 19 League Titles (3 Super Leagues and 16 RFL Championships) 19 Challenge Cups and 3 times World Club Challenge winners being a few. In football terms this Manchester United, arguably the biggest side in Rugby League, Warriors outweigh the Latics second to none but Wigan Athletic's success hasn't been measured in the amount of trophies won. Wigan Athletic have 1 major to their name, The FA Cup which will be forever in the Club's history and will be the Club's biggest succes for a long time to come but Wigan's rise from Non-League to European Football is up their as one of the best, from League 2 in 1995 to Europa League group stage in 18 years is phenomenal particularly for a club of Wigan's stature, the rise through the league's is oone of the recent fairy tale stories of the 21st century, from beating the "big 4" to the FA Cup triumph in May and to the Challenge Cup and Super League double Wigan Warriors did this year. Both teams have been successful in their very different but unique ways.

Before the FA Cup in May, people would have referred to the Latics as "Wigan who?" but now it is " FA Cup Champions 2013" and because of this I think Wigan Athletic is known more to the Football Countries of the World and due to the European campaign we've parted on but Wigan Warriors has the support of the other side of the world, Australia and New Zealand either play League or Union and due the World Club challenge the Warriors will be taking part in this season and the world record transfer of full back Sam Tomkins, Australasia is definitely a fan of egg ball (sorry rugby).

In my view, Wigan is slowly turning blue, Latics' recent success has caused an overturn in support and the 80,000 people of Wigan would rather go and see the team in Blue and White rather than Cherry and White but it will hatred between the two sets of supporters ever be settled?

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