In a football* league filled with spoiled and overpaid athletes, managers with more than a few screws loose, and ego-maniacal owners from almost anywhere but Great Britain, the Premier League occasionally produces a lovely story. There is one to be found in the aforementioned FA Cup Cinderella story where lowly Wigan schooled a team loaded with all the above-mentioned attributes.
Dave Whelan was a young fullback in the 1960 FA Cup final at the old Wembley Stadium between Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton. He was taken off on a stretcher after breaking his leg just before the half. From his hospital bed he learned that the Rovers had lost 3 - 0. He wept. His dreams of someday going on to play for England were shattered and he was never the same player again.
The end of his career in football was not long in coming and he went on to make a fortune in the retail business. He bought Wigan for L400,000 when they were in the fourth tier. Under his ownership a new stadium was built and the team rose to the Premiership. For the last three years they have struggled to remain up. They are, in the scheme of things, a small club with limited funds and it is likely they will be relegated this year.
On Saturday, Dave Whelan finally got back to Wembley. And when the game was over, he finally held the storied FA Cup in his hands. Virtually everybody in the sport, including a few supporters of the vanquished Manchester City Club, were thrilled to death for him. It appears he is a genuinely nice man.
A longer, more detailed version of this story can be found here
* This is the last time you will be reminded that when I say football, I mean soccer. When in Rome....