Less than 2,000 people cared one way or the other whether the club folded or not. But, this dedicated Latics ‘journo’ was there at a time when it was most certainly fashionable to be elsewhere.
That man was Ed Jones.
Ed’s two passions in life (apart, I sense, from his wife and family), are music and football. Ed was actually bassist in the Wigan band, The Tansads which believe it or not released three albums (Ell Pee’s they were called in those days!) and big names like The Verve, Kula Shaker, Cast and Pulp all supported the all conquering Tansads at one stage. But that is another story told in his first book entitled, ‘This Is Pop’ and it would be a good idea to purchase the first book as well as ‘Northern Soul’ to see how far Ed himself has come since the bad old days of failed pop superstardom and an almost bankrupt Wigan Athletic AFC.
Fast forward two Wembley appearances and three promotions, two of those as champions for Latics, and Ed is now employed by the club as Publications Manager/Player Liason mon. He is the perfect man to tell it how it is now, and how it was then.
‘Northern Soul’ epitomises perfectly just what Wigan Athletic AFC’s promotion meant to the Premiership. Never in the league’s history had a team as unfashionable as Latics dared to regale it with the type of enthusiasm and ‘never say die’ attitude that Paul Jewell and his far from ‘superstars’ did. In short, what this little Northern team brought to the Premiership was indeed Soul, and copious amounts of it as well. If you think that any other team has ever shown as much passion and commitment to the cause than Wigan Athletic did in Premiership season 2005/06, you should wake up and smell the coffee.
In the book Ed takes us on a journey that very few fans ever take, that of getting into the players’ mindset, (not to mention their top of the range 4×4’s and Porsche’s), as the season unfolded. I find it extraordinary that Ed was entrusted with as much as he was whilst treading the hallowed halls of the JJB Stadium. He does not break any players’ confidences though whilst telling of some amazing scrapes that he had with helping a host of foreign players find out just what makes Wigan Athletic, ‘everybody’s favourite second team’ tick.
The book is quite unique as nothing so intimate to the club and players has ever been published before. This book is 278 pages of unbridled brilliance and no Latics fan, and that means all 20,000+ of them, should be without this book, that is so much more than a mere memento of a quite unique Wigan season. Football fans everywhere would revel in some of the stories told. The fans of so called bigger clubs could learn a thing or two about humility whilst those fans of clubs now deemed smaller than Wigan Athletic can read it and be inspired, knowing that if Wigan can do it, so can their club.
Without giving too much away, the highlight of the book for me is the photograph that will go down in Latics folklore. It is of Paul Jewell, Dave Whelan and Matt McCann in the Highbury tunnel minutes after the final game of the season. In it Paul is telling his chairman what Pascal Chimbonda has just done!
The message from this reviewer is simple. Buy it. Reading it will be the real highlight of a season in which Wigan Athletic did indeed bring ‘Northern Soul’ to the Premiership.