Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Thursday June 16 2011
On Saturday eight former Wigan Athletic players will line-up once more in the blue and white of the Latics and represent the club in this year's Mersey Masters tournament to be held at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Simon Farnworth, John Doolan, Peter Atherton, Joe Parkinson, Andy Lyons, John Robertson, Dave McKearney and Arjan De Zeeuw are the past players hoping to do the club and the fans proud, last year they finished runners-up to Tranmere Rovers, this time their sights are set on the title.
So with the hopes of the Latics supporters resting on the shoulders of the Wigan Athletic Masters squad I have been wondering how the players have been preparing for the tournament, well this week I managed to grab a few words with Latics Legend Peter Atherton who will be in the side on Saturday.
Peter came through the ranks at the Latics before moving on to play top flight football with Coventry City, Sheffield Wednesday and Bradford City, it is claimed that Peter is the best English central defender of the last twenty years not to win an international cap, he certainly was a classy defender.
So with Peter being a classy defender and top professional, how's the preparation for the Master`s been going? Let's find out:
worbo - Are you looking forward to the Masters and are you feeling fit for what could be three games in one day!!!
Peter - Not feeling too fit at present but it'll be great getting the Latics kit on again!
worbo - How did you end up representing the Latics, did you get approached or volunteer?
Peter - Been involved in the Masters for a few years now - since I retired from full time football. I was invited to play and I had the choice of a few of my former teams but my home town was always my first choice.
worbo - Watching on TV it looks like it can be a gruelling time out on the pitch, do you get together before hand to train and do you play any warm up games in the weeks leading up to the tournament or is it a case of just turning up with your boots on the day?
Peter - There is no preparation whatsoever! We get a text or a call, only a few weeks before, checking if you are available on the date. There are no training sessions or warm up matches it's simply turn up and play. With ex players living in different areas of the country and abroad it's hard to organise anything.
worbo - In last seasons tournament you made the final only to lose to Tranmere, is there hope that you can go one better this time and win it?
Peter - It would certainly be nice to go one better. We have lost twice in the area final, Tranmere last year and to Man U a few years back. But it's always tough with Tranmere the team to beat!
worbo - Are you looking forward to catching up with some of the lads from your playing days or do you stay in touch anyway?
Peter - It's great seeing lads you've played with and against over the years. With lads not living local, as I already said, it's difficult keeping in touch. I'm a member of Latics Past Players so it's great when we do get together and catch up.
worbo - Quickly on to the Latics themselves, do you get down to the DW Stadium to watch at all?
Peter - With work and family I've found it difficult to get down to see the games but a few of my mates are season ticket holders and they keep me updated.
worbo - A fantastic end to the season, what did you make of it and did you believe we could do it?
Peter - It was always going to be a tough final match to get a result at Stoke. It was an incredible final day and a fantastic away win to stay up - again!
It was a horrible first half as we hardly got out of our half but second half was completely different. Great goal but a very tense ending. And it was a big relief at the final whistle.
worbo - Finally, Roberto remaining with the club, how big a boost do you feel that is?
Peter - Roberto has done brilliant. He loves football and Wigan. It was a tough job staying up in what was the tightest season at the bottom in the Premier league - but he did it with some hard fought results.
So a big plus he's staying.
Great stuff Peter, thanks very much for your time speaking to Vital Wigan, here's wishing you the best of luck for Saturday.
The Selco Masters is a popular event and is set to be shown live on Sky Sports 3 at 4pm BST, but if you want to go along to the Echo Arena and support Peter and the rest of the Latics Legends in person you can purchase tickets, priced £7 - £20, from www.echoarena.com
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Date:Thursday June 16 2011
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