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August 2021

The road to Wigan pier, and other tales

By Billy the Dog McGraw

Ahoy there ship mates.  We’re off to the pier.

OK if you don’t get that then you haven’t read your George Orwell, which is fair enough because it is only us old timers who still rate Mr O as one of the greatest writers in the language in the 20th century.

And if Orwell means nothing to you just think that he was the man who invented Room 101, Big Brother, and the great slogans of the Party:

“War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.”
“Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”
“Big Brother is Watching You.”

Orwell is known best for “1984” (the Big Brother story in which the world is divided into three super powers with two at war with each other at all times) and “Animal Farm” but should also be remembered for The Road to Wigan Pier which is a stunning report on the living conditions amongst of the working classes in Lancashire and Yorkshire before the second world war.  It is one of the most powerful and moving socialist manifestos of all time.

As for Arsenal’s road north, for once we are not the team with all the injuries.  Wigan have  Lopez, Watson, Miyaichi, and Crusat all definitely out, and tests pending on Caldwell, Ramis,  Alcaraz and McCarthy.

We’ve got no new injuries so could well line up like this:


Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs

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Arteta, Wilshere


Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Podolski

That leaves Giroud on the beach, (presumably looking at Wigan Pier, which is actually by the canal).

Santi Cazorla should feel on top of the world after being given a football at the end of the last match, and Theo should play centre forward, although with lots of switching around.

We’re favourites to win, and the going prediction is 0-2 to us.

The last three games were:

  • Arsenal 1 (Vermaelen) Wigan 2; April 2012 – a most odd game that I was at, in which Wigan scored very early on, and their tiny travelling support went wild – as well they might.
  • Wigan 0 Arsenal 4 (Arteta, Vermaelen, Gervinho, Van Persie); December 2011
  • Arsenal 3 (Van Persie 3) Wigan 0,   January 2011

But, only Manchester City have let in fewer goals away from home (6) than we have (8) in the league, and Wigan have only kept their goals against to zero twice this season.

Theo has scored 11 this season.  In 2010/11 he got 13 times in the whole season.

Wigan are currently 18th in the league, only in the relegation zone because of goal difference.  They have scored 18 and let in 32.  (Arsenal by comparison are 31-18 in the goal tally).  A win for Wigan would take them above Newcastle if other results go their way. A win for Arsenal could take them to third, again if other results oblige.

The full list of players on the beach, sunning themselves with towels and swimming costumes at Reading was

Mannone, Koscielny, Coquelin, Ramsey, Rosicky, Gervinho, Giroud.

I suspect more of the same, although I also think it is time for Rosicky to get on the pitch a little.  Gervinho might miss out.

Interesting that one of the wild and woolly AAA sites included Koscielny in their list of awful purchases by Mr Wenger which “proved” that he should be removed from power.  Odd that.  I always thought Koscielny was rather good.

Anyway, its on Sky 3, or Sky F1 or something odd like that.  A bit out of the way, but at least it is not ESPN.

And in case you want to know, Wigan is a diminutive principality of Manchester on the River Douglas, eight miles from Notlob.

The town itself has a population of 81,000 and was owned by the Celtic tribe of Brigantes.  They were knocked out by the Romans who built Coccium (you will note the obvious way in which the Roman word turned into Wigan).   Henry III gave the town a royal charter, and as a result they started to make porcelain and clocks.

Plus coal – with every player at the club having a coal mine in his back garden.   Mining was stopped on the pitch when the club was elected to the Premier League.  Wigan won Pit Helmet of the Year (a major award) in 1743.

The books…

The sites…



20 comments to The road to Wigan pier, and other tales

  • Matt Clarke

    I fullwise bellyfeel this goodthinked post.
    So unprolefeed for a change.
    I was in danger of facecrime on reading.

    Understand the coccobacillus joycamp as venue for imminent prolefeed.

    Miniluv be with you.

  • elkieno

    WTF?is that comment above?
    Also I got a friend from wigan a scouse accent it sounds like, and they say ‘were wigan and we live in mudhuts’!
    Let’s just beat them then have a break.

  • Arun

    @elkieno, you may read 1984 first or this might help for the moment.

  • @Billy, might you know who the ref is!That’s when i will make my prediction.

  • Arun

    @Kampala, referee is John Moss with Halsey as 4th official.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Moss is having a shocker today – we are getting no protection, constantly getting kicked yet Wilshere booked for a good tackle. Jack is going to have to be careful with this ref today.

  • John

    Half time: How many times is it allowed to kick hell out of Wilshere before a yellow card is shown?

  • bjtgooner

    Quite correct Mandy, I am quite disgusted with Moss. looks like Wigan have rumbled to the fact that Moss is being very lenient with them & they are starting to be over aggressive.
    Maloney has had a charmed life.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Does thisa game mark the much awaited introduction of the sin bin into football?
    Atrange, generally much to admire about Martinez and his teams, but we seem to bring out their inner Stoke.

  • gouresh

    Not a very conveniening display. Still 10min to go

  • WalterBroeckx

    A really dirty win today on a field that wasn’t cut it seemed so the ball could hardly glide on the surface.
    Yep, we got our Arsenal back 😉

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I thought we could have played some earlier balls up the middle, especially in the 1st half but we controlled the second half, in my opinion even if we didn’t create tons of chances. The penalty was fairly given and well taken. With one or two exceptions, I thought our defense was solid. I am satisfied with the 3 points. Sadly, how many of our AAA fans will be dissatisfied with the 3 points saying we should have won by 8?

  • bjtgooner

    Good win in difficult conditions. Wigan did fight well if a bit on the aggressive side, however, Moss is the one really at fault. But, a valuable away win and three points.

  • Mandy Dodd

    not at our best but an away win with a clean sheet, 3rd league win in a row. The conditions, and their tactics made life difficult for us but the team worked hard for this one. We have dropped points in similar games to similar opponents this season.
    We have played a couple more on the road than at home, so a lot to be optimistic about

  • John

    I suppose that counts as a solid defensive performance, but I would have rather we hadn’t kept giving the ball back to Wigan. Last 15 minutes was like a training session attack v defense.

    I hope Jack is OK after the hammering he took throughout the game

  • leany

    the first time we have three consecutive wins, do we? 🙂 🙂
    i love this feeling. A boost to our confidence, definitely!!
    Yeah, after a dirty win, Arsene smiled! that’s all I care about right now.

  • WalterBroeckx

    rotational fouling came to mind at one point when Jack was targeted a few times

  • Mandy Dodd

    think I even saw Wenger speaking to Bould a few times!

  • Dante

    Nyc to b back to winning. Win ugly, 3 points. Thats wot am talking about.

  • Rupert Cook

    Orwell’s 1984 used Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We as a model for his seminal work. Zamyatin’s novel is a very fine work even if it isn’t quite the equal of 1984.

    Merry xmas Gooners.