FA Cup semi-finals: Paul Rogers caught with his pants down after Wigan's winner in 1989

 

Paul Rogers will be at today’s FA Cup semi-final hoping that Wigan Athletic can repeat their victory over Millwall in the teams’ previous Wembley meeting, when he scored the only goal of the 1999 Auto Windscreens Shield final.

Rogers, who has a place in FA Cup history as a member of the Sutton United side which beat Coventry City in 1989, recalls a very different Wigan, then in the equivalent of League One, from today’s Premier League outfit. “The ground, Springfield Park, was terrible, with antiquated facilities and 6,000 crowds. Contract-wise, Dave Whelan, the owner, was always a tough negotiator. He owned JJB Sports at the time and we had to sign out the single discount card from the secretary if we wanted 10 percent off. And if 16 of us were travelling to Torquay he’d get the kit man to go to the JJB canteen and get 16 sandwiches for the journey home. Not 17, or 18. He kept a tight rein.”

As a former City commodities broker, Rogers, now Brighton’s head of commercial services, appreciates Whelan’s approach. “They’ve done amazingly well, but even when I first met Dave, there was a 10-year plan to be a Premier League team. And I think he did it in eight. He’s got a good little model and if they stay up again he’s done very well.”

Ditto Roberto Martinez, the manager, who was Rogers’ central midfield partner when he first arrived. “Even at that stage Roberto was a real thinker,” he said. “A fantastic footballer but also didn’t drink, studied football all the time. You could see he had a desire to go on to manage. A nightmare to play with, though. He would run across you to get the ball, he always wanted it going forward, but didn’t really want to run back and tackle anybody – that was my gig. But a great guy, like his assistant, Graham Jones, who was our centre-forward – a proper tough player who came from non-League, really appreciated being in professional football and worked hard to develop his career. I hope they do well at the weekend.”

Rogers remembers the game in 1999 as “awful. They looked more likely to score, but we broke away in the 92nd minute. The ball was headed back into the edge of the box and I chested it down, left-foot half-volley, a little nick off Gerard Lavin, and it went in. Suddenly you realise that you’ve scored a last-minute goal at Wembley to win a trophy – everything you dream of when you’re growing up. George Best presented the trophy, which seems a strange one now. And it was interesting walking back down the steps among all the Millwall fans. We did try to get down quite quickly.”

Millwall fans were very much in the majority, as they will be today. “We had 10,000 against 50,000 from Millwall, but both sets of fans were in blue, which helped because you couldn’t see a natural divide. And it wasn’t really a great game, with not many goalmouth incidents, so that probably helped to keep the noise from Millwall’s fans down.”

And there was one more incident, as Rogers hoisted the trophy for  photographers. “Andy Liddell came up behind me and pulled my shorts down. It was big old trophy and I couldn’t just drop it. And the photo was all over the back pages the next day.”

He would like to see a Wigan scorer make tomorrow’s headlines too. “I hope they get to another major final but also stay in the Premier League  – that’s the big thing.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence