Updated: Wednesday, 26th February 2020 @ 2:34pm

I’m a believer! Wigan Athletic fans optimistic ahead of historic FA Cup final against Manchester City

I’m a believer! Wigan Athletic fans optimistic ahead of historic FA Cup final against Manchester City

By Matt Simpson

Believe. That was the message resonating through the crowd of Wigan Athletic fans gathered to cheer their team on the way to Wembley this afternoon.

Club records went tumbling when the Latics reached the semi-finals and players will continue to write their names in the history when they make their first-ever FA Cup final appearance.

And one fan, Mark Barnett, a 29-year-old St John’s Ambulance volunteer from Wigan, was excited to see the team off and was hopeful they could bring back the trophy.

“Seeing the team off is incredible,” he said. “They haven’t done this in a long time so it’s really good to see.

“Being a long-suffering supporter, it would be brilliant if we could win the cup.”

Mark, who was at Wembley in 1999 for Wigan’s AutoWindscreens Trophy triumph , will set off early with other supporters looking for consistency from his team.

“We can be the most consistent team at being inconsistent,” he added. “You never know what team will turn up on the day – as long as they don’t sit back, they have a chance.”

As players stepped off the bus, the crowds erupted into song, but it was the rendition of The Monkees’ I’m a Believer which truly encapsulated the mood.

But Jess Mundey, 17, is worried the occasion, albeit a fantastic one, will be too much of a distraction for the players as they fight for Premier League survival.

“It's a big distraction,” she said. “They need to focus – it will mean the world if we win but staying up would mean more.”

Jess, from Wigan, believes her side have earned the right to win the FA Cup in light of criticism.

“Wigan deserve to win the FA Cup after all the criticism the team have received,” she added.

“I have followed the Latics’ cup run from Bournemouth to Wembley and win or lose, I am proud of my boys.

“It’s amazing my little team have got so far.”

Hundreds of fans congregated outside Wigan North Western station, but none came further than 44-year-old Graham Shukie, originally from Ashton-in-Makerfield.

Graham travelled all the way from Perth, Australia, where he has lived for the past ten years , two weeks ago and is hoping he can bring good luck to the team.

“I was here for the West Brom game, which they won, so I obviously brought them a bit of luck,” he said.

“I’ve come all the way from Australia to support the team and I’m really looking forward to the game – I think we might just sneak it.

“It’s the first of three massive games for the club. It would be good if we could do both but I would take the cup over staying up.”

David Robinson, 41, from Golborne, was less optimistic about his team’s chances after the injuries they have suffered this season.

“I’m pretty apprehensive to be honest. If we didn’t have so many injuries we could have surprised them,” he said.

“It is brilliant for the town and the players. It will be the biggest game they will ever play in.”

“It would be unbelievable if we won with such a depleted squad.”

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