After releasing his new book Jimmy Bullard talks to the club about ‘the amazing times’ at Latics
‘Bend It Like Bullard’ is the larger than life account of a larger than life character, a footballer who has lit up every club he has played at with his infectious character, his awful hair – but most importantly, his quality on the pitch.
Arsène Wenger referred to him as Wigan’s ‘marathon man’ for his all action style and there’s no doubt he was a very hard act to follow in Latics midfield when he departed in 2006; in the dressing room he was irreplaceable.
Bullard was a record breaker for the club; his 123 consecutive league appearances is still unbeaten. He was a member of the team to be promoted to the Championship and to the Premier League, his goal at West Bromwich Albion secured the club’s first ever away victory in the top flight and he was also part of the team for Latics’ first ever major final, in the Carling Cup in 2006.
Tireless on the field, it was his pranks that helped to create the legend; on the field he once pulled down Freddie Ljungberg’s shorts when the floodlights failed at the JJB Stadium, leap-frogged over a group of Everton players lying on the pitch, dared to look Duncan Ferguson in the eye after he had just punched Paul Scharner in the stomach.
YouTube is filled with Bullard funnies from around the training ground at every club he has played – he’s his generation’s greatest footballing character without a doubt.
Now he’s brought it all to print and it’s an absolute must read for all Latics fans. He spoke with the official Wigan Athletic website:
BULLARD ON HIS PRANKS
Most of the pranks were just things that happened on the spur of the moment so trying to put them in a book because I was worried that what I thought was funny at the time might not be funny to other people.
Like the time I took a signed ball off Kav (Graham Kavanagh) and lobbed into the muddy training pitch. If you were there you’d have cried but it might not work written down. That was the hardest part, to know what to put in and what to leave out.
BULLARD ON THROWING DARTS INTO THE CEILING
That was when we were in the restaurant at the hotel in Cardiff before the Carling Cup Final. The boys wouldn’t let me play with them so I got the hump, nicked the darts and threw them all on the ceiling, I thought ‘if I’m not playing then no one’s playing and that was the end of that’. I can’t remember if I had to pay for the damage or the club did in the end…
BULLARD ON NAKED INTERVIEWS
That wasn’t my fault. Horse (Geoff Horsfield) was getting interviewed by a TV crew next to the changing rooms and I was just taking a shower and then I was launched out by the boys. Once I was there though, of course I acted the part and casually walked in front of the camera with everything hanging out. I’ve seen footage of that one. Outrageous really.
BULLARD ON LATICS TEAM MATES
The main lot was me, Leighton Baines, Lee McCulloch, Gary Teale, Alan Mahon, Michael Flynn, and we’d all just play up basically. Away trips were the best times, we got up to all sorts, and it was usually me and Alan Mahon to be fair.
I’ve always said Wigan was the tightest group of boys I’ve played with, the best ever dressing room. We’d been together for a long time as a group, we were all hungry to do well and get to the Premier League, a lot of us came from the lower leagues and we all got the success together.
We were likened to the Crazy Gang because of the strength of the group. Really great times and of all my football clubs, I still keep in touch with a lot of the Wigan boys, more than the other clubs really. I just got off the phone to Robbo (Neil Roberts), I spoke to Jig (Lee McCulloch) last week, I spoke to Jason Roberts recently too, Bainesey I keep in touch with, Polly too and Mike Flynn. Lidds as well and of course Mahony. Really great bunch.
BULLARD ON MAHON
He was the biggest trouble maker, no question, but it was always under the radar with him, he would get away with it. He loaded the bullets and I fired the gun. ‘Jim, just do that, do this’. He had me in the bag, but in the book there’s some great things I did to get him back, so you’ll have to read that to find out how.
BULLARD ON BAINES
When he first came in to the side as a 16-17 year old we all knew right away he was good, but to have been as good as he’s turned out? Well maybe I thought he had a chance because he was a special talent, but to actually go and achieve it and realise that potential, it’s a long shot isn’t it? It’s a great achievement to have been second to Ashley Cole for so long as England left back and now it looks like he could be starting at the World Cup. He deserves it. I know Paul Jewell really believed in him from the word go and he’s been proved right.
BULLARD ON JEWELL
We’re still close. That stuff over the Chelsea game and the head in the door people have read about was over in 24 hours. Like so much else. I liked him because he was strong but fair and would never hold a grudge.
He was the sort of bloke you could have a bit of a ding dong with and then it was over, there are probably not a lot of managers out there like that still. He knew the type of characters he wanted in the dressing room and the fact we all got along was down to him putting us together.
BULLARD ON POLLITT
He’s still a good mate, but he’s outrageous. I’ll say no more.
BULLARD ON SCHARNER
The Space Cat. I mean when he walked into the club wearing a fur coat down to his knees and had died blue hair, I thought, hello, what’s going on here? He was blinding, you never knew how to take him. A good player but he was out there.
He threw a welcome party to all the lads when he signed…in his garage with the door open on a freezing cold day! That was the best.
BULLARD ON LEAVING LATICS
It was a difficult decision leaving, you don’t really want to leave anywhere you’re enjoying and comfortable. But I probably had a sense that the club had to change to survive, which is what happened with a lot of the boys moving on. In football, you’ve got to keep progressing.
Fulham offered £2.5 million, so it was good business for someone they only paid £100,000 for or something. As a footballer you’ve got to make decisions and I was going back home to London. I don’t regret leaving because I hit some great form at Fulham as well, but I look back at my time at Wigan as being really special, to be part of that team that achieved so much and with such a great set of boys was something I probably knew deep down could never happen again.
BULLARD ON THE CUP FINAL
People tease me because I tipped City to win the Cup final but if you were a betting man, the odds were stacked in their favour with the team they have. But the other side was that I knew about Wigan and the spirit at the club. Plus I’m a big admirer of Roberto Martinez and the way his teams play and if anyone could upset the odds, maybe his team was the one, and so it proved. They played football the way a lot of
British players never do, and that’s what we need, managers coming in to give something extra to the British players.
BULLARD ON LATICS IN THE FUTURE
I always follow my old clubs and I’d love to have a crystal ball and predict they’ll get promoted next season. What I can see is that the club’s progressed so much since my day, first with Martinez and now Rosler and the cup final proved that anything is possible if you dare to play the right way, take risks, be flamboyant. I’ll be wishing them all the best from a distance.
BULLARD ON NOW
I’m not doing a lot to be fair. The book’s taken up a lot of time but I’ve still got the golf, the fishing and a bit of punditry in the media. I’d love to manage in the future, I’m taking my A and B licences and that’s something I’ll look at maybe.
BULLARD ON THE BOOK
I didn’t think it would be quite as much fun as it turned out. I didn’t understand the effect it would have on me. But I found myself working on it everywhere, fishing, on the golf course, on trains, cars, I’m a bit of a nightmare to tie down so I need to give a big thanks to Gershon Portnoi who wrote it with me.
I’m proud of it now, and it’s good. Not just about gags but everything, ups and downs, some serious stuff too and it’s quite emotional in bits. Even I felt myself cracking up at some bits - and I wrote it! I hope people enjoy it.
AND A FINAL WORD FOR LATICS FANS
They were always brilliant with me and like I say, Wigan was an amazing time in my life with some amazing people, which I’ll never forget. So thanks to everyone up there for everything.
BEND IT LIKE BULLARD
– On sale now at amazon.co.uk buy your copy by [clicking here]