Pete is Wild Rover Latics’ cup exploits in comic strip

OLDHAM Athletic’s Emirates FA Cup giantkilling act at Premier League club Fulham was described as ‘Roy of the Rovers stuff’.

It was a throwback to the iconic cartoon strip that first appeared in the 1950s featuring Roy Race and his Melchester Rovers team.

That term was used to describe the magical moments that sees a team overcome the odds and record a famous FA Cup victory.

And Latics’ cup upset at Craven Cottage has been included in a Roy of the Rovers ‘Cup Heroes Special’ that has been produced by the Football Association to record the third-round upsets.

Latics against Fulham features in the special comic alongside Gillingham’s win against Premier League club Cardiff City, non-league team Barnet beating Championship club Sheffield United and Newport County’s victory against top-flight side Leicester City.

Latics’ cup upset was masterminded by Diggle-raised caretaker manager Pete Wild who had his own ‘Roy of the Rovers’ story to tell.

He was the lead academy coach for the Under-12 to U16 sides until recently when he was elevated to become academy manager.

And Frankie Bunn’s sacking as manager resulted in Wild, who had previously coached at Springhead, being put in charge of the first team, until Paul Scholes’ appointment.

Wild had booked a train ticket to London and intended to sit with Latics’ 4,000 fans until he was suddenly thrust into the technical area alongside Claudio Ranieri who managed Leicester City to the Premier League title in 2015/16.

Wild and Callum Lang, the scorer of the late dramatic winner at Fulham, visited St Paul’s Primary School, Royton, for the press launch of the Roy of the Rovers ‘Cup Heroes Special’.

They joined pupils in seeing a re-run of the highlights of the cup tie before taking part in a question-and-answer session.

The children asked discerning and probing questions. They wanted to know Wild’s message in his pre-match and half-time team talks and about his exuberant celebrations.

“Fulham’s tactics helped us. We were more compact and, because of the way they played, we didn’t have to chase after them,” he revealed.

Wild admitted it was daunting Fulham whose last opponents had been Arsenal in the Premier League.

And of his celebrations, he remarked they were because he was a fan as well as manager having been raised in the town where he now lives in Royton.

When Fulham’s Neeskens Kebano had a glaring miss to make it 2-0 and Aleksandar Mitrovic had a penalty saved when it was 1-1, Wild thought it might be written in the stars they would win.

Fans of a certain vintage grew up with the Roy of the Rovers cartoon strip, but not 20-year-old Lang.

The young striker admitted he had never heard of the comic character when told about the ‘Cup Heroes Special’ but his father and grandfather had briefed him.

Lang said: “Hopefully I can make more special moments and be in further comics.

“It is something to keep and a great memory. It will be great to show it to my 10-year-old brother Ben who is proud of me.”

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