I will be a very proud man when Wigan Athletic walk out onto the Wembley pitch to face Manchester City in the 132nd FA Cup Final. When I started supporting Wigan as a nine-year-old they were a non-league team and never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see them playing at Wembley in front of 90,000 fans in the most prestigious domestic cup competition in the world.
I have been very lucky to have supported the team at all the previous domestic cup finals, the FA Trophy Final in 1973, the Freight Rover Trophy in 1985, the Auto Windscreens Shield in 1999, the League Cup Final in 2006 and now the FA Cup Final in 2013. I will be among a select group of Wigan fans who have experienced the full range of domestic cup finals.
Wigan’s rise through the leagues and now to the FA Cup Final has been a wonderful adventure and I would not have missed it for the world. Wigan have historically been a small club, but there is no reason why we cannot continue to grow and achieve great things.
Roberto Martinez and his team have performed miracles to maintain their Premier League status for eight seasons, and to qualify for an FA Cup Final and the Europa League is an amazing achievement.
We now face the daunting prospect of overcoming the second best team in the Premier League. Manchester City are one of the wealthiest clubs in the world and they will be desperate to win a major trophy to justify their huge investment. The Latics therefore go into the final as massive underdogs.
A stressful relegation battle and a long line of injuries to key defenders have weakened Wigan’s position. But winning the FA Cup is not impossible and the example of Wimbledon beating Liverpool 1-0 in 1988 and Sunderland shocking Leeds United 1-0 in 1973 show that the underdog can win the cup. It could be the greatest day in our history. But whatever the result in the final, it continues to be an incredible journey following Wigan Athletic.