|Les footballers visitent la France
Going – going – gone to Angers: at the auction with Richie Currie, chairman of the Shevington football club, Chris Duckett also from the club and Ian Santus, the main organizer of the trip.
It won't really be a derby match when Shevington FC plays the French side Angers Intrépide at the end of April, but as it’s a game between two twin towns, there will be plenty of local support and gentle rivalry amid the entente cordiale.
The French side, from the Loire Valley in north western France, invited the Shevington team’s juniors to join them to celebrate their 90th anniversary season. And so around 30 players and their mums, dads and families, will be making the trip to Wigan’s twin town this spring for a 3 day tournament as guests of the town.
Pierre Macé, the twin town Ambassador from Angers, who is based in Wigan this year, said: “This is a wonderful example of how town twinning works. Everyone can meet and share experiences and we learn to understand each other’s culture more.”
The players and their families will be met by Wigan’s ambassador in Angers, Patrick King, and will receive a civic reception at Angers’ City Hall during their stay in April.
To raise funds for the trip, there was a highly successful Sportsman’s Dinner last week at Gathurst Golf Club. Nearly £5000 was raised at an auction of sporting memorabilia by the 203 people who attended, and entertainment came from former Everton and Blackburn striker and noted after dinner speaker Duncan McKenzie.
The twin town initiative between Wigan and Angers was set up more than two decades ago, as the council’s champion for culture, Cllr Brian Baldwin, explains: “It started as agreement signed by the then Mayors to formalise a friendship which had started back in the 1970s. Two teachers - one from Leigh College and another from the Angers Municipal Institute - met whilst researching student exchange visits. And now, the partnership works in all sort of ways with ordinary, and extraordinary people, developing ties between our towns.”
Pierre Macé added: “The co-operation between all partners is excellent, and the Angevins will very likely be invited back to Wigan in some months. This is the most important twinning event of the year 2010 and we wish our team well in the tournament – although the true winner is our friendship.”