WHEN WE WIN PROMOTION THIS IS WHAT WE SING...
Jason Roberts joined both Latics and the Royals during periods that each club was pushing for their shot at Premier League football and he had a similar success earlier in his career with West Bromwich Albion.
Still part of Reading’s current squad but side lined with injury, Roberts joined Latics in 2004 from then Premier League side Portsmouth and made an instant impact scoring inside the first minute against Preston North End.
Roberts’ success at Wigan Athletic snowballed and by the end of his first half a season he’d scored eight goals in 14 games setting him up for what would be a sensational 2004/05 season.
The Grenadian forward netted 21 times in Latics’ promotion winning season, with his final goal coming against future employers Reading as he scored the second in the 3-1 win on the final day of the season that sealed the club’s place in the Premier League for the first time ever.
Things just got better and better for Roberts and his knack of scoring important goals never stopped during his time with the club.
If scoring in a promotion winning game and netting against his team’s arch rivals on his debut wasn’t enough, JR then scored Latics’ first ever Premier League goal from the penalty spot in a 1-0 victory over Sunderland and provided the season’s golden moment by scoring at Highbury in the Carling Cup semi-final second leg to send the team to the final at the Millennium Stadium.
Roberts left the club at the end of the 2005/06 season for Blackburn Rovers, ironically the team he scored his last goal for Latics against in a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park.
After six years with Rovers the 35-year-old embarked on his third career promotion challenge as he joined Reading in January 2012.
He helped their promotion push with immediate effect, scoring the only goal on his debut as the Royals beat one of his former clubs Bristol City 1-0.
Roberts’ arrival was hailed as a large contributing factor to Reading’s end of season success, with a goal tally of six in 17 appearances.
This season has been a little different for Jason Roberts (MBE) as injury has cut down his first team opportunities to just 12 games with his only goal being the first of 12 when Reading lost out 7-5 to Arsenal in the Capital One Cup.
STAYING IN FOOTBALL
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill spent the tail end of the 1997/98 season on loan at Reading from Coventry City playing just nine times in the league and scoring once.
Reading were relegated to the same division as Latics at the end of that season and O’Neill returned to parent club Coventry, only to go through with his drop down in league’s by arriving at Springfield Park in the summer of 1998.
Although his Latics career was cut short because of injury, the 43-year-old enjoyed success in his two years at the club as he was an integral part of the 1999 Auto Windscreens Shield winning side, helping Latics on their way to the final by scoring goals against Scarborough and Rochdale before grabbing the 88th minute winner in the Northern Area final against Wrexham.
After capping of his first season at the club with success O’Neill made an excellent start the following campaign missing just one of the first 32 games before injury forced him to the side lines from March onwards.
The midfielder left in 2000 to join St Johnstone, linking up with his former team mate and Latics’ current assistant manager Graeme Jones.
Speaking of backroom staff, former Wales, Blackburn, Manchester City Fulham and Queens Park Rangers assistant manager Mark Bowen also pulled on the blue and white of both clubs.
He joined Latics in August 1999 on a short term deal that reunited him with manager John Benson, who was assistant to John Deehan during Bowen’s time at Norwich City.
The full back played 10 times in all competitions for the club of which he was never on the losing side.
His brief spell at the JJB Stadium came to an end before the Millennium as he joined Reading as a free agent, making just one appearance in an Auto Windscreens Shield game against Leyton Orient in December 1999.
Bowen started his coaching career around the same time as his stint at the Madejski, when he was appointed as part of Mark Hughes’ Wales backroom staff.
As well as Jason Roberts, another Latics-Royals link to still be playing is Polish midfielder Tomasz Cywka who plies his trade for Barnsley in the Championship.
The 24-year-olds move to England came about in 2006 when he arrived at Wigan Athletic from Gwarek Zabrze.
His success in their Championship winning Under 19 side caught the eye of then manager Paul Jewell who saw Cywka as one for the future.
He made just two appearances in a Latics shirt during his four year stay, with his debut against Crewe Alexandra in the League Cup and as a second half substitute against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup in 2009.
Cywka’s stay in Berkshire was only to be a brief one when he signed from Derby County last January, making just three substitute appearances and one start before moving to Yorkshire.
Full back Chris Makin played for both teams at opposite ends of his career.
The Lancashire lad’s break into first team football came with Latics when he joined on loan in 1992 from Oldham.
He made an impression in his 15 appearances and his success at Springfield Park brought him to the forefront of his parent club’s plans.
Makin scored two goals while with Latics, including a winning goal against West Bromwich Albion in front of the home crowd.
It was 13 years later that he found himself at the Madejski albeit only for one season, playing 19 times including in a 3-1 cup victory over Swansea City against a certain Roberto Martinez.
Makin is still connected to football as he works for Alkass TV, a Qatar based sports network.