We begin our build-up to the FA Cup final with the thoughts of Latics Legend Tommy Gore who recalls Chelsea in 1980 and more.
His six years of service to Wigan Athletic during the transitional period from non-league achievers to the Football League are decorated with fine moments, none more so than in the FA Cup itself.
Tommy Gore was almost ever-present during his days at Springfield Park and he helped the club to the Northern Premier League title in the 1974-75 season.
The FA Cup became a stage that he personally set alight in 1979-80 when he scored in each round leading up to the third round giant killing of Chelsea, a game he remembers fondly.
Gore (pictured scoring against Chelsea) said:
“Our FA Cup final back in the day was if we made it through to the third round and ended up drawing one of the big names in the competition, which we were fortunate to do once or twice.
“Beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge is one of my big memories because I scored the goal.
“It was a big deal for us because Geoff Hurst was their manager at the time and to beat a World Cup winner’s team was fantastic.”
“The cup runs we had in the non-league days and early Football League days were fantastic and we were renowned for being giant-killers then.”
The 59-year-old added:
“Another of my favourite memories is when we played Northwich Victoria three times in the previous round to Chelsea, because the game got postponed due to fog and also went to a replay, I don’t think that’s happened many times in football.
“The programme for the following round against Chelsea actually had both our team and Northwich’s team printed on it because the time between the replay and the next game was so short.”
With the club’s first ever FA Cup final coming up on Saturday, Gore said he was still in awe of just how for Wigan Athletic has come since the days of battling for Football League status.
“This is a massive worldwide event and for this club to achieve a place in the final is very special.
“From the days that I played for the club to now it’s just been a whirlwind journey and I think Wigan Athletic has impressed the whole football community with the success it has had.
“I’m really proud to have played my part in the story of the club and it’s going to be great to see the team playing on Saturday.”
November 25 1979 marked Latics’ first FA Cup tie as a Football League club and on that day against Bury, it was Gore himself who scored the team’s first goal.
Saturday will mark Latics’ 100th FA Cup game since that day, with the semi-final against Millwall as the 99th (pictured) and Gore says he cannot wait.
“It’s going to be an enormous occasion and the whole town will motivate itself for the big day, despite what’s going on in the Premier League.
“I’ll be there myself with another former player from the non-league days Stevie Gallagher.
“We’re really looking forward getting down there and soaking up the atmosphere of the day from the supporters.
“I know that there are a lot of the older former players going down to Wembley for the final too and they’re immensely proud of what the club has achieved.”
After the semi-final Gore watched Latics narrowly miss out at the Etihad Stadium to cup final opponents Manchester City but, the former midfielder says he can see Latics picking up the silverware come Saturday evening.
“I went to watch them play against Man City in the days after the semi-final and I thought it was a bit of a travesty for us to come away with nothing.
“The team played so well on that day and if they perform like that again in the final then it’s definitely possible.