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20 October 2016

The connections between Albion and Wigan.

The kit
Since adopting blue and white as their main colours in 1947, Wigan have tried out many interesting designs over the years. The blue shirts with white sleeves, used up to 1955, mirror a look adopted by Brighton around the same period. In 1977, the Latics wore a very Brighton-esque combination of blue and white stripes in a kit manufactured by Umbro, very much in the style that Alan Mullery’s men had worn in the 1976/77 promotion campaign. Despite its green trim, the Adidas kit that Wigan started wearing in 2000 was very much in the style of the Seagulls' all-blue kit by the same manufacturer 20 years previously.

The celebrations

The end of 1996/97 provided jubilation for both sets of supporters. In October 1996, Graeme Jones’s solitary goal for Wigan against Brighton sealed three points, helping the Latics in a season where they finished as Third Division champions. Despite being at the bottom of the division, the Seagulls turned the tables on Wigan with a 1-0 victory in the return fixture in April 1997, thanks to Craig Maskell. At the end of the campaign, Brighton retained their Football League status by the narrowest of margins.

The players
Paul Rogers featured for both clubs, after leaving Wigan to join Albion in July 2003. He made 137 appearances and scored 16 goals for the Seagulls in a four-year spell on the south coast. Meanwhile, striker Craig Davies joined the Latics in July 2015. He is a former Seagull from the Withdean years, signing for Brighton in January 2009, and scoring on his debut against Peterborough. Other players who have featured for both clubs include goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, who was an Albion loanee a couple of seasons ago.


The managers
Two former Wigan managers have Albion connections. Ian McNeill was an intelligent inside-forward at the Goldstone from 1959 and 1962. He had two spells in the Wigan hotseat, from 1968-70 and then in 1976-81, the latter where he led the club into the Football League in 1978. In May 2007, Chris Hutchings became Wigan manager, leading the club to the top of the Premier League after an impressive start to the 2007/08 campaign. He had been a dependable defender and midfielder for Brighton during the mid-1980s.

The FA Cup finals
Both Brighton and Wigan have played in the FA Cup Final while losing a relegation battle in the top flight. In 1983, the Seagulls took Manchester United to a replay after an eventful 2-2 draw. In 2013, Wigan turned the form book upside down by deservedly beating Manchester City 1-0. The Manchester connection at Wembley continued, as Wigan played City’s rivals United in the Community Shield that August.

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