The Lilacs: I've watched Wigan Athletic win the FA Cup but it's hard to beat Walsall away

Wigan band The Lilacs are making waves on the UK indie scene and the lads spoke to Shots TV! show Kicking and Screaming about touring, the north and Wigan Athletic
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Wigan band The Lilacs epitomise their town - four mates who love a laugh, love football and love music... and not all of them support their local team.

They’ve just finished a tour that has taken them around the country, with anthemic single ‘Grace’ bellowing out of venues from Sheffield to Southampton. This summer they’ll hit the road on the ever-expanding festival circuit and then in November, it’s the big one - a headline show at the O2 Ritz in Manchester.

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The LilacsThe Lilacs
The Lilacs

When they’re not playing in front of adoring crowds they’re in one, watching their favourite teams. For guitarist and proud Wiganer Sam Birchall, that’s the Latics.

“I've seen everything over the years, watching Wigan,” he said. “I've had a season ticket since I was five, when my mum and dad used to take me to games in the Premier League and it's kind of gone a bit downhill from there. But do you know what, I still enjoy it just as much, no matter what league we play in. It's still a good day, watching your team and we've had some good memories over the years. 

“I think as supporting a smaller club, we've not got the same money as some of these teams [around us] but we kind of proved that we could still mix it at the top and win a few good games, obviously with the FA Cup runs and stuff, we've beat a few clubs and caused a few upsets along the way. When you support clubs like Wigan in the lower leagues that's all you can ask for really.”

Of course Sam has seen the heights, Premier League football and an FA Cup Final win over Manchester City but since then, Wigan have been bouncing between League One and the Championship. It’s not diluted his love for the club, though. Indeed, he gets as much joy out of watching them in grounds far from the glamour of the top flight.

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“You've got to pick [the FA Cup, as a favourite memory] it's the only time I've seen us win something of that stature, but I picked a lower league memory,” he said. “We played Walsall away in League One, the season we won it and it was literally first and second, two decent sides in that league at the time and it was coming to the end of the season and whoever one that game would go on and win the league. It was 1-1. We scored in the first half, great goal and then they scored early in the second and it was kind of stuck.

“We were behind the net just thinking this is 1-1 all day and then we scored in, I think, the 90th minute and won 2-1. It was just proper scenes, proper football scenes, you don’t get it in the Prem or anywhere else. We took two-and-a-half-thousand that day and I think we felt like a big club because we were in this tiny stadium. It went off. That's my favourite.”

And the best he’s seen in a blue and white shirt?

“I'll do two, I'll do the best player I've seen and my favourite player. The best player I've seen at Wigan has got to be Reece James, I've always said it. He was playing in League One and he was streets above [everyone]. We played him in a few different positions, we played him at the back, at right back and we played him CDM one day and I honestly think he'd have tackled one of his own players. He tackled absolutely everybody on the pitch.

“My favourite player, I'm gonna go with a Scouser, I'm gonna go with Callum McManaman. I think just in terms of the passion for Wigan, he's Mr Wigan, for me. He's still playing right now at the end of his career and he still does 60 minutes at best of he can get over the line and he either gets sent off or he scores and that's him. He just loves the club. It's all or nothing. What a legend.”     The Lilacs were speaking on Kicking and Screaming, a show about football and music, available on Shots TV! on demand or on Freeview channel 276. Watch the full show HERE 

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