Friday 7th October 2016
Today starts with me still in a HAZE. A really good friend of mine who I used to play rugby with at Orrell RUFC now works for Wigan Warriors. He recently contacted me to see if I wanted to go down to Wigan’s Training Facility to watch them prepare for tomorrows game against Warrington Wolves – WHO THE LADS WILL SMASH TO BITS.
Well I continue in my haze as I land in the car park and meet my good friend Dave TULLY who has organised this great day for me.
In I wheel to be greeted by Kris Radlinski and we go through the Team Matrix weights / gym area to the kitchen area and grab a brew, before then going outside to watch the team run. It is then that I am greeted by the GREAT MAN himself Mr Shaun Wane. Now if you would have seen me as a kid back in 1986/7 then you would know that Shaun Wane was my rugby playing hero and we talked today about the great punch up he was involved in during the Manly World Club Challenge in 1987.
I still believe to this day that Shaun Wane is the right man for the job at Wigan and to this day he is still a hero of mine due to his passion and determination towards his team of players and to his hometown club.
After watching the lad do their training run and tactics I was allowed to stay and watch the Issuing of the Team Shirt for tomorrows GRAND FINAL game at Old Trafford. This was an honour to watch as the club had decided to get one of the players family to issue the shirt to them. This to me shows how Shaun Wane treats his players like family and maybe sometimes they step out of line and he needs to check them back into place. “Is this not what a father does to his children” The Wigan Ethos and the Club is a magical place and is very family based,
I bumped well not literally into Sam Tompkins on his crutches and he was lovely to chat to and was very happy to sign my Wigan Shirt. After this Shaun Wane got all the players / staff and families to go onto the pitch and have a picture taken, this again shows how this club is very much a large family.
Back in to the clubhouse I went and started to get some autographs on my Wigan shirt Including Shaun Wane who signed “all the best Shaun Wane ” on the back of the shirt in prime place. I also got Kris Radlinski to sign and then saw Ian Gildart who is Ollie Gildart’s dad. Well if you are a fan like me (plus my brother and I went to school with Ian) he was a bloody great second row for Wigan and played many first team games including the World Club Challenge 1987. For me Ian was at Wigan when players like Goodway and West and Potter had the 2nd row shirts otherwise Ian would definitely have been a more regular feature. I remember an Iconic picture of him and I think Ian Lucas in the mud
I then managed to speak to and get John Bateman’s autograph. I can truly say that I think he is probably the best player on the field at the moment and I can only see him improving here at Wigan and becoming another Club ICON. He was lovely to speak to and very kind. (as I was leaving he made a great effort to get up and give me a hand shake and some kind words)
It was at this time as I was told to go and have some lunch with the players (OMG) that I started chatting to Ben Flower’s dad and Ben took my shirt off and got everyone to sign the shirt. I have to THANK YOU Ben Flower for your kindness in doing that for me. I then became very humbled to see and speak to Lockers who is an Icon in the Wigan Shirt and is a truly nice gentleman to speak to in fact everybody / player at the club just treated me as part of the family. Sean explained that he has been frustrated with his injuries this year!
I am now looking forward to getting out on the golf course with Steve Blakeley and any of the other players / coaches to see if we can help their games (as still PGA Pro) and if I can learn how to play again with my illness then maybe I can take a few quid of them.
On another side of today I have a real understanding how committed and precise the game has become with the analysis of players and how their body works all by Mark Bitcon and his team is once again fantastic. Watching this today gives me great motivation to go for further education in Sports Science to go with my Triathlon Coaching Qualifications.
ALL I CAN REALLY SAY NOW IS THANK YOU WIGAN WARRIORS FOR THE DAY AND I HOPE I CAN COME AND VISIT AGAIN.