There has been a lot said about an incident towards the end of the match on Friday against Huddersfield. An ironic cheer from a minority of Saints fans when the Saints captain Jon Wilkin, who had made a couple of errors in the game, was replaced. I say ironic, I mean moronic.
As a supporter, you pay your money and as such are entitled to voice your opinion however you see fit. You will have your favourite players, you’ll have your pantomime villains – the ones you love to hate. However, ironically cheering the club captain, who has made nearly 400 Super League appearances for the club, has sacrificed the chance to play at a World Cup to play out of position when we were struggling for a scrum half and played in a Challenge Cup Final with a broken nose for us is very poor form. People may see Wilkin with his media career and other business interests and think his mind is elsewhere. Anyone who thinks that needs a reality check.
I understand that many of you will think Wilkin is past it. I said in my mid-season grades that “he might be plan Z at scrum half but a key defender in the side… I agree that he isn’t as good going forward as he used to be but he’s still influential.” It’s high time that the fans who ironically cheered realised that as the game becomes tougher and players become older they could be more susceptible to errors. None of us go to work to purposely make mistakes.
It’s not the first time Wilkin will have been booed. In fact when it was announced before the Warrington game earlier this year that Wilkin was injured a minority of Saints fans cheered. You may have noticed that I haven’t used one word to describe these spectators – and that word is ‘supporters’. They may argue that they want the best for the team and that Wilkin isn’t part of that. Well I’ll take the judgement of the coaching staff who see the players all week over someone who watches them for 80 minutes once a fortnight.
The atmosphere at the TW Stadium hasn’t become electric and unmissable since the move from Knowsley Road. Most new stadiums suffer from this – many Wigan fans I know say they have the same issues in lesser games. Whether this is a generational thing I’m not sure. I remember standing at Knowsley Road belting out ‘Oh When the Saints’ or chants with more imagination than ‘Regan, Regan’ – this doesn’t seem to happen any more. I might have my rose tinted specs on there, but I’d love us to raise the roof next season.
Sadly incidents like the one with Wilkin don’t help atmosphere in games. And I wonder how many of these ‘fans’ will cheer if in 3 weeks Jon is lifting the Super League trophy at Old Trafford…