Wi­gan Ath­letic’s Divi­sion Three cham­pi­ons from 1996-97

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Neil Fissler

COLIN GREENALL ad­mits he is proud of his small part in mak­ing Wi­gan Ath­letic a Pre­mier League side. Greenall was an ever-present in the first of three pro­mo­tions in nine sea­sons that took the Lat­ics from the base­ment of the Foot­ball League into the Pre­mier League.

Wi­gan were crowned Divi­sion Three cham­pi­ons af­ter scor­ing 12 more goals than Ful­ham, af­ter both teams fin­ished on 87 points.

Greenall was the solid cen­tral de­fen­sive foundation that en­abled John Dee­han to fin­ish off the work Gra­ham Bar­row had started be­fore leav­ing a year ear­lier.

“When John Dee­han came in he had the ba­sis of a re­ally good team, but he added to it with the likes of Wayne Big­gins. The play­ers he brought in added just a lit­tle bit more qual­ity,” said Greenall.

“I had some good sea­sons at clubs but the best cou­ple were those I had at Wi­gan.

“Be­fore, it had been a place that play­ers didn’t re­ally want to go to. It’s a Rugby League town but Dave Whe­lan came in and we all know what’s hap­pened since then

“All of those pro­mo­tions made Wi­gan fash­ion­able. Divi­sion Three was a hard league to get out of and I’m just glad I was part of that process to a lit­tle de­gree to start the ball rolling,” he said.

A year ear­lier Bar­row and chair­man Whe­lan had re­cruited three Span­ish play­ers – Roberto Martinez, Je­sus Seba and Izzy Diaz, who be­came known as The Three Ami­gos.

Winger Diaz es­pe­cially went on to be a ma­jor in­flu­ence in the pro­mo­tion suc­cess, pro­vid­ing many of the 31 goals that made Graeme Jones the divi­sion’s top scorer.

“Izzy was prob­a­bly the big­gest hit of all. He had pace, so we just used to knock the ball over the top and he’d catch it – he would catch pi­geons! The Three Ami­gos were a big part of it. Izzy cre­ated most of the things we did, he loved to go past peo­ple.

“You are as good as your strik­ers what­ever team you are in. Every­thing that went into the box Graeme fin­ished. I’d love to know the num­ber of goals he scored from crosses.

“Ev­ery game we played we thought that scor­ing goals wasn’t go­ing to be a prob­lem – that was one of that side’s big at­tributes,” he added. 1. Tony Black: A winger who was forced into retirement with a se­ri­ous knee in­jury and now works as a chef in the North-West. 2. Je­sus Seba: A Spain Un­der-21 winger who has re­mained close to Martinez and has scouted for him at Wi­gan and now at Ever­ton. 3. Ian Kil­ford: The mid­fielder now lives in Chor­ley and is teach­ing in a spe­cial school in Pre­ston for chil­dren with be­hav­iour, emo­tional and so­cial dif­fi­cul­ties. 4. Paul Tait: The striker has now re­turned to where his ca­reer started, Ever­ton. Is work­ing as a coach within their academy set-up. 5. Gavin John­son: The full-back is now back liv­ing in his na­tive Suf­folk and works as a driver for an en­gi­neer­ing com­pany. 6. John Pen­der: The cen­tral de­fender has set­tled in Telford. Was sales man­ager for D&G In­su­la­tion Ltd in Here­ford and worked for Shrop­shire In­su­la­tion. 7. John But­ler: The right-back had two spells at Wi­gan. Lives in Ash­tonin-Mak­er­field and works as a driver for a courier com­pany in Wi­gan. 8. Matty Car­ragher: The full-back is now back liv­ing and work­ing in his na­tive Liver­pool. 9. Kevin Sharp: The full-back worked as a coach at Wi­gan be­fore be­com­ing a foot­ball con­sul­tant with Leeds-based man­age­ment agency First E11even Sports. 10. Steve Mor­gan: A full-back who started coach­ing in the academy of his home town club Old­ham Ath­letic. 11. Graeme Jones: The striker has been the as­sis­tant man­ager at Swansea City, Wi­gan and now Ever­ton un­der his former team-mate Roberto Martinez. 12. David Crompton: Af­ter serv­ing Wi­gan’s youth de­vel­op­ment for more than 22 years, he is now work­ing for Bolton Wan­der­ers. 13. Alex Cri­b­ley: A former de­fender who was Wi­gan physio. Left the club in July this year, end­ing a 35-year as­so­ci­a­tion. 14. Colin Greenall: A de­fender who was head of youth de­vel­op­ment and cen­tre of ex­cel­lence man­ager at Rochdale. Has been coach ed­u­ca­tion man­ager at the Lan­cashire FA for ten years. 15. Frank Lord: A former cen­tre­for­ward who joined Wi­gan as foot­ball co-or­di­na­tor. Later scouted for Manch­ester United in South Africa where he died of a heart at­tack in June 2005, aged 69. 16. John Ben­son: A former right­back who had two spells work­ing for Wi­gan. He left to join Sun­der­land but died a few months later in Oc­to­ber 2010, aged 67, af­ter a short ill­ness. 17. John Doolan: A mid­fielder, he worked in Liver­pool and Ever­ton’s acad­e­mies. Re­turned to Wi­gan as youth coach and first team coach, but is now work­ing for Hibs in Scot­land. 18. Wayne Big­gins: A striker who is back in his na­tive South York­shire. Runs a busi­ness that makes pal­lets and pack­ing cases. 19. David Lowe: An England Un­der21 in­ter­na­tional winger who has worked for the Pro­fes­sional Foot­ballers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, Wi­gan, Derby County and Manch­ester United. Is now head of youth coach­ing at Black­burn Rovers. 20. Roberto Martinez: The Span­ish mid­fielder man­aged Swansea City and Wi­gan, whom he led to FA Cup fi­nal glory in 2013. Is now in charge of Ever­ton. 21. Si­mon Farnsworth: The former goal­keeper is now the physio at Morecambe af­ter spend­ing 12 years work­ing in Liver­pool’s academy. 22. John Dee­han: He has had sev­eral spells in coach­ing and man­age­ment. Left his last job at Sh­effield Wed­nes­day in June. 23. Lee But­ler: The former goal­keeper is now pass­ing on his skills as Brad­ford City’s goal­keep­ing coach. 24. Gra­ham Lan­cashire: A for­ward who is now the academy op­er­a­tions man­ager of Burn­ley, hav­ing joined six years ago as un­der-9s coach. 25. Izzy Diaz: The winger now lives in Cas­tro, north­ern Spain, and works for an in­ter­net de­liv­ery com­pany.

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