|Wigan Athletic 0 v 2 Leeds United|
Saturday, 17th August 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Friday, 16th Aug 2019 18:52 by Tim Whelan
Our visit to Wigan Athletic is tomorrow with kick-off at 3pm, as for once our good friends at Sky have failed to select this fixture for live TV coverage.
If you're coming by car on from Leeds the best way is to stay on the M62 till you reach the M6, then go northbound. There is a more direct route via the M61, but it would probably be slower as you’d have further to go once you’d left the motorway and you’d have to go through a couple of towns.
Come off the M6 at junction 25 and follow the A49 to Wigan, and in two miles you should pass an Aldi store on your left, before reaching a large traffic light controlled roundabout. Turn left at this roundabout into Robin Park Road and continue into Scot Lane. The stadium is down Scot Lane on your right.
There is a large car park at the stadium specifically for away supporters, which is car park 1 (Stadium Way, postcode WN5 0UN) and costs £20 per coach, £10 per minibus and £5 per car. Most spaces are unreserved, so if you'll need to get there early to ensure you have a space. There are spaces allocated for disabled supporters too. If you park anywhere else in the Robin Park retail complex you run the risk of getting a ticket.
Wigan has two railway stations within 100 yards of each other, both being about 20 minutes walk from the stadium. If you're coming from Leeds via Manchester you'll find yourself at Wallgate. The other station (Wigan North-Western) is on the other side of the road and is served by Virgin trains on the London Euston-Glasgow route.
From either station you need to go under the railway bridge and keep to the right, following the same road for around 10 minutes, passing the Seven Stars Hotel and then going under a second railway bridge. By now you should be able to see the JJB Stadium, and you just have to turn down Robin Park Road and you'll be there.
Normally the train journey is quite straightforward, but on the West Coast main line today there have been significant delays due to two major weather-induced issues, so it’s probably a good idea to check the situation before setting out. Hopefully things will have got back to normal by tomorrow.
Beside the away turnstiles there is a large indoor Marquee Bar, specifically away fans, which has a big screen and serves pies as well as beer. Another option is the Red Robin, which is only a few minutes walk away from the ground, opposite the Cinema Complex. Further afield in the town centre you could try the Wetherspoons 'Moon Under Water' or the ‘Anvil’, both of which are listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide.
Also worth a mention are the ‘Berkeley and 'The Swan and Railway’ near the two railway stations. If you need some scoff, Frankie & Bennies, Pizza Hut, and Burger King are within the Robin Park complex near the stadium, and there are also some takeaways between the two railway stations. I can particularly recommend the extensive ‘Wallgate Chippy’, if not the appalling pop music they insist on playing.
You can also get alcohol inside the stadium for the usual inflated prices, though one irritation is that if you want food as well you have to queue up again at a separate counter.
If you were one of the 2,000 Leeds fans who managed to get a ticket for our FA cup 6th. round tie at Springfield Park in 1987, you'll remember being crammed onto a shallow open terrace where it was almost impossible to get a good view of the game. Things have certainly changed since, thanks to the deep pockets of Dave Whelan, who was chairman of both the football and rugby league clubs. He played for Blackburn in the 1960 FA cup final before making a fortune though his company JJB sports, but is no relation to me as far as I know.
There was no chance of improving the old ground to meet the standards demanded by the Taylor report, and Whelan's first idea was for Wigan Athletic to share the rugby league clubs superior Central Park ground. When this plan fell through he decided to build a new stadium for both clubs to share, which cost £30 million and opened at the start of the 1999/2000 season.
The total capacity is 25,138 and Wigan's official site boasts of all sorts of exciting facilities, which ominously include a purpose built Police Station and cells. We get the North Stand at one end, which officially has a capacity of 5,500 seats, but the usual allocation is restricted to 4,800 to prevent overcrowding on the concourse. For some reason the number given on the official Leeds website was “approximately 5,000”.
The ticket prices are £30 for adults, with various categories of concessions at £15 and £10, down to £2 for the under 5s, and our allocation has now sold out. Hopefully the many fans who are still waiting for their membership cards will still be able to get in.
Tickets for the home stands are limited to supporters with a previous booking history, and a glance at their website suggests that they still have quite a few seats unsold. It’s usually one of the venues where the chant “your ground’s too big for you” is quite appropriate.
All in all Wigan is usually a pretty good away trip, so let’s hope it lives up to expectations this time round.
Some of this stuff came from www.footballgroundguide.com .
Photo: Action Images
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