A look back at how Wigan Athletic faired in the 1989-90 campaign.
- Bryan Hamilton back in charge after steering club to safety at the end of the previous season.
- Two Bristol clubs promoted along with Notts County.
- Latics fail to win in first 11 league games.
- Two legs with eventual First Division winners Liverpool in League Cup end in defeat.
- Bryan Griffiths top scores with eight in all competitions as low-scoring campaign sees goals spread.
Manager Bryan Hamilton sensed there would be optimism coming from all circles after his side’s turnaround under his stewardship at the end of the 1988-89 campaign but little did he know just how difficult his start to the season would be.
David Hamilton signed for Chester City and Stan McEwan and Wayne Entwistle both moved to Hartlepool United as Latics refreshed their squad with youngsters Jimmy Carberry (Everton) and Northern Irishman Darren Patterson (West Bromwich Albion) arriving at Springfield Park.
Darren Patterson (left) signed from West Bromwich Albion.
The season began with a short trip to Blackpool and a Littlewoods Cup tie at Wrexham with both ending goalless. Boss Hamilton said in his programme notes for the first home game of the campaign, a visit of Rotherham United, that he felt his side could have won both games quite comfortably.
It was in front of goal that Latics were struggling, though, and the Millers took full advantage as Bobby Williamson, John Buckley and Clive Mendonca secured a 3-0 victory.
Hamilton’s side registered their first win of the campaign in their second leg tie with Wrexham, though, as Mark Hilditch, Steve Senior, Joe Parkinson and Dave Thompson gave Latics a 4-0 half-time lead before Don Page made it 5-0.
Joe Parkinson bags the third goal in the Littlewoods Cup win over Wrexham.
A trip to Bury kicked off September with Hilditch twice giving Latics the lead before Jamie Hoyland equalised for the Shakers.
Another goalless draw followed with Northampton Town before defeat at Leyton Orient left Latics in the drop-zone prior to their visit to Anfield for the first leg of their Second Round Littlewoods Cup tie with Liverpool.
Glenn Hysen gave the Reds the lead at Anfield before Bryan Griffiths equalised to send Latics in at half-time level. Thompson made it 2-1 after ten second-half minutes to send the visitors into dreamland, though an Ian Rush double and Peter Beardsley and John Barnes strikes secured a 5-2 win for Kenny Dalglish’s side.
Latics lost the first leg of their Second Round tie at Liverpool 5-2, though they did lead 2-1 at one stage against the eventual First Division Champions.
Back in the league, Andy Pilling bagged a second-half equaliser at home to Cardiff City before three consecutive defeats to Tranmere Rovers, Brentford and Bolton Wanderers sent Latics rock bottom ahead of the second leg with Liverpool.
Though Latics were scheduled to be at home, the game was played at Anfield due to the recent Taylor Report and on safety grounds. The game was all but over after the first leg but Steve Staunton’s second-half hat-trick for the Reds made sure they would progress 8-2 on aggregate.
New boys Anthony Ward (Everton) and Phil Daley (Newtown) were in the side for the visit of Shrewsbury Town in October as boss Ian McNeill brought his side to Springfield with Latics well in need of points. The game ended goalless before a 2-0 loss at Huddersfield saw Latics sit bottom with no wins, just seven goals and five points from their opening eleven games.
Phil Daley signed for Latics and went on to score six league goals in his debut season.
After describing the performance at Huddersfield as “very poor”, Hamilton got a reaction from his side for the visit of Walsall as Alex Taylor converted into his own goal from a set-piece to give the hosts a 1-0 half-time lead before Jimmy Carberry and Phil Daley opened their accounts for the club to make it 3-0.
Bristol City, who would go on to win the Division Three title, brought Latics back down to earth a week later as Gary Shelton, David Rennie and Rob Turner scored to give the Robins a 3-0 victory.
Reading were the next visitors to Springfield and it looked as if things were going to get worse for Hamilton’s side when Trevor Senior gave the Royals the lead. However, Hilditch equalised to make it 1-1 at the break before Ward and an Allen Tankard penalty secured a 3-1 win to make it three wins in four games.
Crewe Alexandra, promoted from the Fourth Division last season, were next up as Hamilton’s side looked to build momentum with Daley’s header the difference between the two sides.
A draw at Notts County added another point but Latics remained in the relegation zone when they turned their attention to the FA Cup and their home First Round tie with Mansfield Town. Page and Hilditch notched the goals to set up a Second Round fixture with Carlisle United in December.
Mark Hilditch on the mark in the FA Cup First Round win over Mansfield Town.
A 4-0 thrashing at Fulham had Latics back down in 23rd but Ward’s goal in a 1-0 win over Birmingham City in the build up to Christmas lifted Latics out of the relegation zone for the first time since the first week of the season.
Billinge-born defender Alan Johnson notched his first goal for the club as Carlisle were then downed at Springfield in the FA Cup whilst Griffiths was also on the mark to set up a Third Round clash with Second Division Watford.
Latics were 16th at Christmas as a Daley double downed Swansea City at Springfield before draws at Chester and Preston, the latter thanks to a Neill Rimmer goal, saw the year out.
The New Year began with a trip to Mansfield where Hilditch’s second-half hat-trick secured a 4-0 win after Thompson had opened the scoring in the first-half.
Glenn Roeder and Glyn Hodges made sure there would be no further success in the FA Cup for Latics for the season as the trip to Vicarage Road ended in a 2-0 defeat.
Bryan Hamilton's side saw their FA Cup run ended against Second Division Watford at Vicarage Road.
Pilling was the hero as Latics moved up to a then season high of 14th following a victory over Rotherham United with Daley also on the score-sheet in a 2-1 win.
A five-game winless run followed for Hamilton’s side as the points were shared with Blackpool, Cardiff City, Bury and Birmingham City with a defeat to Leyton Orient dissecting the stalemates as Latics continued to hover above the relegation zone.
The visit of Fulham saw Latics move clear as Griffiths scored twice in the second-half, one of which was a penalty, as Alan Dicks’ side lost out to their fellow strugglers.
Away from the league, a friendly fixture followed with the visit of Torpedo Moscow breaking up the campaign as the Russian side continued their world tour with a 0-0 draw at Springfield.
Latics featured in a February friendly with Torpedo Moscow as the Russian side finished their world tour.
March began with a resounding win for promotion-chasing Bristol Rovers as a Carl Saunders hat-trick helped the Gas win 6-1 with Carberry replying for Latics.
A busy month saw Hamilton’s side remarkably in the top-half by April as wins over Brentford, Bolton, Shrewsbury and Walsall gave a comfortable cushion above the drop zone heading into the season’s final month.
A home double-header with the two Bristol sides provided little surprise in returning no points whilst defeats in trips to Reading and Mansfield dropped Latics back into relegation contention.
On Easter Monday, fellow struggles Chester visited Springfield in a game which both sides couldn’t afford to lose. Luckily for Latics, a second-half Griffiths penalty won the game and all-but secured safety.