Wigan Athletic’s Division Three champions from 1996-97
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.