11th May 2013 - Wembley Stadium, London
MANCHESTER CITY 0
WIGAN ATHLETIC 1
Everyone remembers where they were and the precise thing they were doing when special moments happen, but when Ben Watson’s header bulged the back of the net at the east end of Wembley Stadium, 20,000 Latics supporters in the ground and many more not in attendance could be excused if they said their memories were a little hazy after what were scenes of sheer jubilation.
From leg break to history maker Watson came on as a substitute in the 81st minute to win the FA Cup 10 minutes later and seal Latics’ first major trophy in their 81 year history.
It was a day that ran perfectly for supporters, players and everybody involved with Wigan Athletic, with some moving moments along the way.
Chairman Dave Whelan (pictured) led the team out, a gesture put forward by manager Roberto Martinez and Emmerson Boyce carried out four-year-old mascot Joseph Kendrick who has been given the support of the whole town in the aim of raising awareness of his rare genetic disorder known as Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia, two touching sentiments on a special day for the football club.
The stage was set, Abide with Me and the national anthem had been sung and 22 players we ready to do battle for one of the most prestigious club competitions in the world.
A month earlier Latics travelled to the Etihad Stadium in the Barclays Premier League, putting in an exciting performance but being narrowly defeated by their cup final opponents.
This time around a similar approach was taken and there was excitement from the outset, with Callum McManaman providing edge of the seat moments.
After just nine minutes the 22-year-old almost opened the scoring as he strung the ball across the pitch to Arouna Kone, receiving it back between a gap in the defence before cutting inside on the right and bending the ball a yard wide of Joe Hart’s right hand post.
Manchester City looked shocked as Latics took the game to them but it was the 2011 FA Cup winners who came even closer 20 minutes later when David Silva’s cut back from the by-line into the penalty area was met by Carlos Tevez only for Joel Robles to pull off a world class save (pictured) as he tipped the ball over the bar with his foot while diving the opposite way to Tevez’s shot.
McManaman came close again moments after the Argentinian’s golden opportunity as he latched onto the end of an Antolin Alcaraz pass through the City defence down the left side.
The young winger’s excellent control allowed him to skip beyond a sliding challenge from Matija Nastasic, making his way towards Hart in the City goal.
McManaman (pictured) then avoided three more sliding challenges as he twisted and turned inside the area, dodging blocks from Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Hart again, before his resulting shot was eventually stopped by Zabaleta at close range.
The game hung in the balance at half time, a stalemate that Latics’ supporters sensed was going to be broken as they got behind their team.
After 15 minutes of the second half, McManaman’s youthful exuberance had City in a spin, with Zabaleta receiving the first of his two yellow cards as he pulled back the lively forward in his attempt to break away from the half way line.
McManaman was at it again not long after as he threw his hat in the ring for Man of the Match, taking on David Silva down the right, fooling Gael Clichy as he entered the penalty area before having another shot blocked, this time by City captain Vincent Kompany.
As the clock continued to tick it was looking more and more likely that Latics would break down City’s rear-guard and Shaun Maloney was the next to come within inches of an opening goal, when his free kick from wide right looped over the wall and onto the far top edge of the cross bar.
The heat was rising and the excitement was difficult to contain for Latics fans as the team came closer and closer to creating that magic moment.
Watson replaced Jordi Gomez with nine minutes to go, little being known to anyone that he would be the man of the moment.
Six minutes remained on the clock when a slack pass from Gareth Barry on the halfway line fell to Kone who first time played McManaman in on goal straight down the middle.
With three City defenders breathing down his neck and closing in around him a fourth, Zabaleta, desperately went to ground, committing himself and receiving his marching orders for a second yellow card.
One final tormenting run from McManaman at City full back Clichy forced a corner as three minutes of added time appeared on the fourth official’s board.
From that moment everybody knows how it goes, Maloney with the corner, Watson with the header and Wigan Athletic with the FA Cup.
Watson met Maloney’s cross at the front post, rising in front of Jack Rodwell in unfamiliar territory to plant his header over Hart and in at the back post with Sergio Aguero standing no chance of a clearance on the line.
The game edged into its fifth minute of injury time before referee Andre Marriner checked his watched and blew his whistle as the culmination of 81 years’ worth of hard work became a reality.
Celebrations on and off the pitch were manic before the players took to the famous Wembley steps to receive the trophy.
Club captain Gary Caldwell and skipper on the day Emmerson Boyce held the trophy aloft to a roar of delighted Latics supporters….. history made!
Man City: Hart, Kompany, Zabaleta, Nasri (Milner 54), Aguero, Barry (Dzeko 90), Silva, Clichy, Tevez (Rodwell 69), Nastasic, Toure
Latics: Robles, Kone, Alcaraz, McCarthy, Maloney, Gomez (Watson 81), McManaman, McArthur, Boyce, Espinoza, Scharner
It was 30 years to the day that Aberdeen also defied the odds to beat Real Madrid 2-1 to win the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
On the same day in 1904 Catalunian artist Salvador Dali was born, 109 years later Ben Watson painted a lasting memory into the minds of Wigan Athletic supporters.
Watson became the first Englishman since Frank Lampard in 2009 to score an FA Cup winning goal.
His header was Latics’ 18th goal against Manchester City and the first since Charles N’Zogbia (pictured) scored in a 1-1 draw at the DW Stadium in October 2009.
The first meeting between Man City and Latics came in 1971 also in an FA Cup game but the score line was reversed for that third round tie as City won 1-0 at Maine Road through a goal from Colin Bell.
“Usually in games I don’t hear anyone because I zone out from the crowd but this time I couldn’t help myself and they definitely pushed us over the line.
“The fans were our 12th man, I could hear everything they were saying.
“They give you the adrenaline to win and we kept on playing until the 94th minute for them.”
“The whole occasion has made me immensely proud of the entire town, which has come together to support its football team and probably been the only people who believed we could do it.
“We see the players every week reach such high standards, and we know they are capable of results like this one, but sometimes you don’t get the rewards you deserve for one reason or another.”
“Unbelievable, that’s all I can say unbelievable!
“Who would have thought that Wigan Athletic could be hear winning the FA Cup against Manchester City.
“All you have to do is look at our fans, they get a lot of stick but look at them now, they’re the ones shouting the loudest.”
“I’m over the moon, I say it in every interview after we’ve won that I’m made up, but I just don’t know what else to say at the moment.
“This is a moment everyone dreams about and it’s amazing for those fans.”