Archive | September, 2015

Brian Tiler and the season 1974/75

20 Sep

A Season to Remember 74/75

brian-tiler-aston-villa-1971
In the first of a new series we look back at a season in our history kicking off with 1974/75.
It began with defeat and ended with a record points tally, FA Cup glory was followed by tears in the FA Challenge Trophy. Brian Tiler was the man at the helm.
Brian was appointed Wigan Athletic manager in the summer of 1974. The former Rotherham, Aston Villa and Carlisle midfield/defender was signed as a player-manager but he only managed a handful of appearances for the latics and he admitted his surprise at the standard of the non-league game at this time.
That summer was played out to a soundtrack of bombs from the Ira and album charts that saw Wings, Cat Stevens, Mike Oldfield, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd rub shoulders uncomfortably with Easy, Easy by the Scotland World Cup squad.
The NPL season began inauspiciously with a 2-0 defeat at Northwich Victoria and in fact latics lost 3 of their first four games with the other defeats in cup competitions. The pressure was on and the season was only a few weeks old, moaning Wiganers? Who’d have thought!
In the first home programme of the season Brian Tiler described latics as being “the Leeds United of non-league soccer” in that everyone wanted to beat us. Young readers please take note, Leeds were a very good team back then! Derek Fuller the club secretary used his programme notes to ask for 6 people to volunteer as stewards to stop kids running onto the pitch every time a goal was scored. He was still asking for them four months later!
Tiler endured a torrid time in that first home game against Matlock Town and substituted himself admitting that “It was the most difficult decision I’ve had to make during my professional career”
After that initial bedding in period the teamwork Tiler instilled in the side paid off and they quickly made the top spot their own. The side weren’t as attractive as Gordon Milne’s team of three years earlier but then again no one has produced a team like that since.

BD_Bmd4CYAIZ3hB

Crowds didn’t exactly flock down to Springfield Park initially and Allan Rimmer the Wigan Observer reporter commented that “It was one thing winning and another thing winning in style”. He did though go on to say in the programme “If ever a club did deserve support its Athletic, who have made one of their best ever starts to the season and yet have still to capture the imagination of the town’s sporting public”
Tiler and Rimmer were again at loggerheads later that season when Rimmer wrote an article slagging off the manager for refusing to give a supporter a lift back home on the team coach. Brian Tiler explained that he would never do this after a fight broke out between a supporter and a player when he was at Aston Villa.1 Meanwhile poor old Derek Fuller was complaining that “a large number of supporters are gaining admission to the ground by routes other than the turnstiles”
Financially times were tough for the latics and in November in a bid to save money the club programme was reduced from a decent glossy effort to a poor homemade photocopied version. Sometimes the ink was that faded you couldn’t make out the writing plus the dates of games were omitted. Mind you they did have the foresight to charge the same price as the glossy version 6p! In April it changed for the better though it still was an in house production. There was a paper shortage worldwide in 74, something to do with the oil crisis I think. Anyway I do recall one lad being called a daft bugger for throwing a toilet roll on the pitch at one game and an old chap rolling it up to take it home!
If the bog roll situation really got you down and you were a little flushed (Apologies for the toilet humour) then you could take a winter break to the sun courtesy of Wigan Athletic. The club were organising an eight day break in Majorca for £57. Were you one of the 70 people who took advantage of this offer?
Latics also enjoyed a good run in the FA Cup, traditionally a highlight for the club, well until the last few years that is. In the 4th qualifying round they easily disposed of Kidderminster Harriers 4-0 at home and then drew Shrewsbury Town away in the 1st round proper. Shrewsbury were top of the 4th Division at the time and just before kick off played “Catch us if you can” by The Dave Clark Five. Well Latics did catch em’ and earned a replay with a Johnny King goal.

TV JAGS ETYPEThe replay was played in pouring rain if my mind corrects me and goals from Albert Jackson and Tommy Gore saw us triumph 2-1. The winning goal saw me tumble down the Springfield terrace as I jumped high in the air and missed my footing much to the delight of my mates. We went out to Mansfield Town in the 2nd round after a replay and I remember it being a bit lively behind the ground afterwards! Mind you it was worth it just to see Johnny King’s magnificent goal.
Hopes were high for the FA Challenge Trophy and we got off to a storming start easing our way through the rounds like a hot knife through soft butter. 1st rnd Altrincham 3-1 at home, 2nd rnd Northwich Victoria 2-4 away, 3rd rnd Lancaster City 2-0 away. In the 4th round we had home advantage versus Bedford Town, who?

Yes that’s what we said and we were already putting money at one side for our Wembley trip. We lost 0-1 and the only time I’ve ever felt as bad about a football game was when we lost to Gillingham in the play off final. In fact I stayed in that Saturday night I was that pig sick and my mate Tony Lowe stopped in with me. I think he was put on suicide watch by my Dad!

74.5 Wigan( Bedford hit the bar with this free kick )

We had one thing left to win now and that was the Northern Premier League Championship. Tiler’s team were determined to win this and they chalked up victories like never before. Crowds were averaging 2000 as the Wigan public finally responded to a winning team. The Evening Post & Chronicle were “Backing Latics all the way”
Once they got to the top of the table they never relinquished their hold and ended the season as champions with a NPL record number of points winning 33 games out of 46 and losing only 7. At the end of the season Brian sang the praises of each of the players who had worked so hard for him. Singling out Mickey Worswick he said “If he was any younger I’d adopt him!”
Brian Tiler achieved something that only Gordon Milne did and he deserves his place in the Latics spotlight.

porland-timbers-crowe-tiler

Brian left the club the following season to coach in America. In 1990 Brian was in Italy with his good friend Harry Redknapp covering the World Cup Finals. On their way back from a game the minibus they were travelling in was hit by a speeding car and Brian and three young Italians were killed in the crash. Redknapp who was sat next to Brian also suffered serious injuries. Brian Tiler was 47yrs old when he died.
This article is dedicated to him .
Brian Tiler 1943-1990
Tony Topping

Voyage around Disneyland

10 Sep

20kmk2
“Once it’s gone it’s gone” a familiar phrase but one which has a special resonance to those of us waving goodbye to middle age. Many places where I spent my youth have all but vanished; my junior school and my secondary school have both been razed to the ground.

Springfield Park is no more, the first two houses I lived in have gone and many, many other places have disappeared or changed beyond recognition. No trusts fought to save the places I cherished, they weren’t of any national merit but I loved them all the same.

I should by rights have been born American. As a boy I worshiped the country though the place I loved was out of the TV, films and comic books I read and maybe didn’t really exist in the real world. One of my idols, amongst many, was Walt Disney.

Every Walt Disney film that showed in Wigan in the 60’s was seen by me and I wasn’t alone. Queues formed the length of the street at the Ritz, Princes, County and Court cinemas. But one of the best things that Walt ever did was to build a theme park… Disneyland.

I couldn’t tell you how much I wanted to go to Disneyland as a kid but I might as well been asking my Mam & Dad for a trip to the moon and back. Mam was a cleaner and Dad worked in the cotton mills so we went to Butlins instead and we had to save all year for that. So we both grew older Disneyland and I and the yearning gradually subsided with age. I still wanted to go and even though a little of the child still remained in the man it would never be the same now.

I’m sorry Walt but you have to take a little of the blame for my eternal regret and my sulking at my parents inability to change Cleethorpes into California. You had to show snippets of the park at the pictures or in those Christmas Disney specials on telly just to tease children like me.

4562298-19988064-thumbnail

And one ride in particular caught my eye and my imagination, the Submarine Ride…
The ride opened in the summer of 1959 and featured eight subs each one painted grey and built to resemble a nuclear sub of that time. The ride cost 2.5 million dollars and was inspired by US subs and the Disney film “20,000 Leagues under the Sea”
In fact US Naval officers attended the opening of the ride and were amongst the first to sail on the 52 foot long subs.

I recently found out that the subs didn’t actually dive beneath the water and were in fact boats with the bottom passenger half under water. I was slightly saddened to find this out but only slightly. As a child I would have let my fevered imagination do the work and to all intents and purposes we would have been diving in that crystal clear water.

Around 1400 people an hour were taken on an eight minute ride round the man made lagoon. The captain of the sub would give a running commentary over the intercom and “Weather warning!” would be accompanied by bubbles floating past the portholes.
Other announcements would include “Dive, dive, dive” “Take her down easy” “10 Fathoms Captain” and “All ahead full” Brilliant stuff!

The subs also went under a water fall and legend has it that some “sailors” would place a coin under the hatch of the pilots dome so that water would seep in all over him under the waterfall. Girls dressed as mermaids would sit on a little island for four hours at a time sunning themselves. They even swam out to the subs though in later years many claimed the diesel in the water gave them health problems.

mer2

One elderly couple asked one of the crew how long the “voyage” lasted and he quipped “two days” He was as surprised as anyone when they turned up later that day with an overnight bag!

One of the strangest incidents in the rides history occurred on Pearl Harbour Day 1974. One submarine crashed into another sinking it in four feet of water. All the passengers had to stand on their seats until they were rescued. All 38 tourists were Japanese…

So what if the submarines were really boats, I still wanted to go on them and see the mermaids swim. Sadly this is one of many dreams that will remain unfulfilled.
The ride closed forever on September 8th 1998 the news of its passing only reaching me this year.

Some things have to be left behind though and I’ll bid thee farewell little submarines, you filled my mind with wonder once upon a time and I’m eternally grateful to you and of course to Walt.

Tony Topping

Stop Press, it’s now been revamped as the Finding Nemo Submarine ride! Get those cases packed Mrs T I’m on my way!