Matty Peet admits Wigan Warriors will draw inspiration from their rich history ahead of Saturday’s Challenge Cup final after the release of a poignant film to mark the club’s 150th anniversary. The video is based on a poem written by acclaimed poet Tony Walsh, who delivered his moving poem ‘This Is The Place’ to crowds who gathered in Albert Square, Manchester in May 2017 for the public vigil following the bombing. the bomb at the Manchester Arena.
The poem was written especially for the 150th anniversary and is narrated by Wigan Warriors Hall of Famer Martin Offiah, whose exploits in the cherry and white shirt saw him become one of the greatest wingers in history of rugby league. The film resonated with Warriors head coach Peet, a keen history student and lifelong Wigan fan, who said Saturday’s final was an opportunity to write a new chapter in the history of the club.
“What I personally like about the film is that it celebrates the highs but also acknowledges the lows,” he said. “When it comes to northern cities, I feel like we have a lot of characteristics of being serious and proud, but also being humble in who we are. I think the video sums it up.
“It’s probably a big part of our daily conversation, not just because there’s a big game coming up. We’re very aware at this club, from the owner right through to our community team, of our responsibilities. is a privilege to be in the roles that we occupy at this time.
“Saturday is a chance to do something special. There haven’t been many of these trophy photos for a few years. I’m not in any of these photos and a lot of our team aren’t in any of them. these photos. But Huddersfield have their reasons too. They are a very proud club and they will be very motivated.
Warriors executive director Kris Radlinski said of the production: “It’s obviously a celebration of 150 years and we had to do it, but it comes from a great humility on all of us. It’s not a self indulgent piece, it’s almost a gift to the city and a tip of the hat to our history, we are incredibly humbled and honored to be a part of this project.
Walsh started working with the club in August last year and a group of 20 Wigan fans were invited to what he calls a ‘gold digging’ session where he weighed ideas and words on what Wigan Warriors was. He then left and in three weeks wrote the poem. Walsh then handed it over to Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan before revealing it to the same group of fans.
Of the poem, Walsh said: “Watching the sport in the 80s and 90s I was very aware of the club’s heritage, but when I delved into it I did my research, spent time with Kris, the chairman and a few hours with a group of fans and came away with thirty or forty flipchart pages covered in words about what the club meant to people.
“When I brought it back and shared with those fans, it’s fair to say there were more than a few tears and there was a standing ovation in the room. It’s a huge responsibility and it is not only about the past, but also about the present and the future, I am very proud to have played a part in the history of the club at this important moment.
Once the poem was written, the work of creating the film began. Phil Pickard, producer at media company Short Stories, worked with the club to put together an extensive reel of archival footage and fan video clips to create the film.
Offiah said: “I don’t have a Wigan accent, but having spent time with people like Shaun Edwards over the years and being around Wigan, I really wanted to do the terminology justice and make people feel people – that’s what I tried to do as a performer, to make people feel emotions and that’s what I was trying to do when I performed the play.
“I said to myself: this is something that will inform, inspire, connect future generations even after I am gone. I like to think that the things I’ve done on the pitch will stand the test of time, so I knew that was very important.
“It’s a concise piece of history in a poem, with the visuals that some kids in five, ten or even fifty years will look at and connect with it. It was a very important role and I did not take it lightly.