We send our condolences following the death of our 'first season ticket holder'.
We are saddened to hear of the passing of one of our longest serving, most loyal supporters, Noel Dean, at the age of 92.
A passionate Wigan Athletic fan and leading member of the Wigan Athletic Supporters Club, Noel travelled home and away to watch the team throughout the Ted Goodier, Harry Lyon, Northern Premier League eras having attended his first game in September 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II.
He was thrilled when the club reached the Football League and rose all the way to the Premier League and he still occasionally attended games until last season as and when his health permitted.
A former pupil of Wigan Grammar School, highly talented Noel graduated to become Chief Engineer at the BICC Cable Company in Prescot. He travelled extensively with his job and was a nightmare for his PA as he would continually request flights to be arranged around Latics fixtures. He would often go straight to the game having just flown in from the Far East or the USA and even gave up the opportunity of a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and a visit to the Taj Mahal in order to watch Latics play.
Noel's sisters in law, Mollie Lowe and Lilian Atkinson, were also staunch Wigan Athletic fans as their father, Edwin Lowe, had been involved in the group who founded Wigan Athletic in 1932. Noel's wife, Eunice, was also a loyal supporter but sadly passed away in 1982 and they transfered that love for the club onto their daughter Kath.
All three became the proud owners of season tickets numbers one, two and three in 1971, the first time they were introduced – at the grand old price of £13 each. Ironically, Noel missed the opening game that season but he did have a decent excuse as he was in Nigeria.
A highly intelligent man who always embraced technology, Noel was also a keen photographer and short-wave radio enthusiast. He had a very analytical view of football, discerning game plans and passionately defending the role of players on tactical grounds who were not always viewed by others as crowd favourites.
Noel symbolised everything that was good about Latics, having witnessed first-hand our unique journey from the Cheshire League to the Premier League, then to becoming FA Cup winners and taking part in the UEFA Europa League.
Throughout his life, Noel was a welcoming ambassador for Wigan Athletic, greeting both home and away supporters with infinite good humour, dignity and humility.
He lived a full life will be sadly and greatly missed by all who knew him and we send our sincere condolences to friends and family of one of the true gentlemen of Wigan Athletic.
THANKS TO KEN ALKER, BRIAN AND JOHN ASHCROFT, HAROLD ASHURST AND KATH BURGESS IN COMPILING THIS OBITUARY