I'd last been to a game at Wigan Athletic when they still played at Springfield Park; 17th of September 1988 to be precise, when Wigan secured a comfortable 3-0 win over Reading in the old Football League Division 3. That also goes down as the only time a girlfriend has introduced me to her parents on the terraces at a match - that alliance lasted only a month or two more, but I don't think the football had anything to do with it.
This time I was in the away end, joining the Bradford City traveling hordes for a 2nd v 3rd place League One fixture. Wigan are widely seen as favourites for promotion back to the Championship, having been relegated last season, they were unbeaten at home this season. City have been in a sticky patch - jut one win in the past five - but keeping pace near the top of the table.
The game was fairly even, but both sides weremaking plenty of mistakes. Bradford took an early lead but Wigan soon equalised. 1-1 at half-time and then it ebbed and flowed through the second half. Cue an injury time goal from City's late substitute, Tyrell Robinson and the scene pictured above.
I had a little time to explore the town before the match - my first visit since those romantic walks in the park and along the canal of thirty years ago. I had forgotten, had I ever noticed, that the parish church has one of the finest arrays of grotesques and gargoyles around. I found my way back to Wigan Pier and took the short-cut along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal to the stadium, with some good Pink Panther sticker art (which will be appreciated by one of you at least), street art and of course an opportunity to add to my collection of canal bridges. One way or another I seem to have combined canals and football a few times this season.