Happy Birthday Wigan

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ancientnloyal
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Happy Birthday Wigan

Post by ancientnloyal » Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:36 pm

Wigan is 147 years young today!! I used to do a website researching Wigan history and it’s still online (somewhere) but here was my piece about the formation of the Club!! Forgive the formatting below... the piece continues into 1873...


The Beginning 1872
QUEEN VICTORIA had been on the throne for 35 years by the time the Wigan Cricket Club held their Annual Dinner at the Dicconson Arms pub on Standishgate on the 13th November 1872. The Cricket Club had just enjoyed a successful summer and things were looking bright. In all, 32 members of the club were in attendance when the Annual Dinner took place. During proceedings, and a hearty meal, Mr R.T. Johnson read a statement on behalf of the club which stated that the Wigan Cricket Club had enjoyed a tremendous season. They had played 18 games, winning 9, losing 3 and drawing 6 with this helping the Club to be put in a "highly satisfactory condition" and would "compare with any in the country". Many of the members enjoyed the night and became a wee bit merry. With drink, as we all know, people start to talk. The world was changing in more ways than one. Much talk was had regarding the plight of Haigh Cricket Club, amongst others.


Members numbering around 70 of the Haigh Cricket Club had met in the Balcarres Arms, Haigh, who had their annual meet also. Even though Haigh themselves had enjoyed a reasonable season, they were facing the prospect of losing their ground. It was said that the Cricket pitch at Haigh was one of the most idyllic seen in the country and that the club will pull through to keep themselves in business. Although being roughly 2 miles away up the road from the Plantation Gates, the Wigan Cricket Club in some way were secretly worrying about their own futures. If Haigh were becomming into troubles the what security had the Wigan club have despite a successful season?

In the wider expanses of amateur sport, games such as Association Football and Rugby were being played more and more. With the Indistrial Revolution in full swing and the British Empire growing fast, workers up North were starting to enjoy decent(ish) pay and free time for social activities. Nothing was better than rival Cotton Mills or Coal Pits going head to head competitively and the role of 'spectators' and sport was growing as a form of social entertainment. Cricket didn't really fit that mould, especially in Lancashire and Yorkshire as the game lasts a considerably long time and were often seen as a sport for the gentry or upper classes (Yes, Wigan had upper classes).



Talk in the Dicconson Arms moved onto what can be done so that the Wigan Cricket Club wouldn't follow Haigh's problems. The Cricket season was over, being November, which meant no form of income for the next couple of months. The Wigan public were not overly interested in Cricket so what was to be done? Talk started about a possible adventure into the Rugby circle. The game was played in the winter months and was growing rapidly. There were already established teams playing in leagues in rival industrial towns and cities such as Leeds and Hull since the 1860s and even Cup competitions were being fought out. The game of Rugby had expanded rapidly North thanks to the railways and was controlled centrally in London at Twickenham by the Rugby Football Union. In Yorkshire for instance, although flying the RFU banner, local leagues were formed as teams started and faded. Most of the rugby teams were church-based teams. The modern day Leeds Rhinos were first started by Leeds St Johns Church and Hull started to meet and train at St Mary's Church in 1864.

This new adventure may have just been drunken banter and talk in the end. The next day however, someone must have woken up and taken it all seriously. A meeting of the Cricket Club was called for the 21st November, 1872 to be held at the Royal Hotel, Wigan to discuss the possibility (whilst sober) of forming a Wigan Football Club. During the meeting things such as the rules of the game, who would play, which opponents to play against and a backroom structure needed to be established. Hence, the following committee was selected: Messrs. T.R. Ellis, H.V. Kyrke, J. Sayers, E.R. Walker, J. Smith, J. Souter, H. Wall and R. Procter. This was evidently a good start. The problem they faced however that firstly, they had never played a game of amateur rugby. Clubs had often been formed and disbanded quite quickly, sometimes with huge financial losses and reputations sthattered. Wigan needed a bit of bedrock. They turned to a man named Nathan Eckersley. Mr Eckersley had just been re-elected as Mayor of Wigan a week prior to this meeting. He was a solid man and popular within the town who had many business interests and belonged chaired/presided over many societies. One of which was the Wrightington, Standish and Haigh Ploughing Society which was quite a busy organisation back then, especially with a Ploughing Match at the Boar's Head, Standish, taking place around the time of his re-election and goings on at this Cricket Club. Ploughing aside, Wigan had a successful meeting and had the backing in place to make the venture work, even with a newly re-elected Mayor as President and a bit of cosying up along the way. By the end of the meeting, around 50 members had enrolled into this new club, most of whom were members of the Cricket Club.


The Club was officially established under amateur status a week later on 30th November 1872 when the first of a series of trial matches was played at "Folly-field" (see maps), adjoining Upper Dicconson Street, Wigan. Nobody knew what to expect or who was the best player. Many went along to try their luck but many more, around 2,000 spectators, went along to see what was going on with this novelty. Each Saturday afternoon trial games were put on and the members were wittled down to those who could actually play the game. Matches against neighbouring towns were organised for the season, which included Warrington, Southport, Ormskirk and Bolton.

A team in those days consisted of fifteen players and was Rugby Union. Wigan started as a Rugby Union club, a code played for just over two decades befores the formation of the Northern Union in 1895. Points were recorded by means of goals, punt-outs and touch-downs with mainly no fixed time limit for the game itself. Christmas came and went and the calendar moved onto the year 1873. Wigan had arranged a game and were due to travel to Warrington via train on Saturday 18th January, 1873 for the inaugrial match. The Wigan Examiner from Friday 17th January had stated that "The sixth days play in connection with this club took place on Saturday last and was exceedingly successful with a good number of poeple in attendance". All was well, the unknown reporter was unknowingly Wigan's first ever media follower and it was all looking well. Over the six week period beween the first trial match and January, the Wigan public were still turning up in numbers to see what this team will look like and a good crowd surely gathered to wish the gentlemen well in their short trip to Warrington.


From these two Ordnance Survey maps from 1896 and 1907 respectively, Folly Field was just a large flat open space inbetween Mab's Cross and Mesnes Park. The cricketers did not want to ruin their lovely pitch and so decided to use public space for their trials. As a few more beers went down people's throats, the new club did not have far to look during the meeting at the Royal Oak Hotel. Just out of the window in fact! Outside lay a large flattish land known as the Folly Field and would have been perfect for starting up training and even to play matches.

Of course, this was no problem as the newly re-elected Mayor Eckersley had the say so of the local council. This map (left) from 1906 shows the location of Folly Field more clearly. A note of intrigue, the location of Folly Field, Wigan's first major home, was only a couple of hundred yards away from Central Park(bottom left) but in 1872 it was merely grazing land for pasture which was sometimes flooded by the River Douglas.

As the Warrington match drew near, not much was publicised in the Press. Ploughing got a nice mention but not much going on in terms of sport. Most people would have known about the game by word of mouth if nothing else. Come Saturday 18th January, the new Wigan Football Club set forth to Warrington from Wigan Wallgate Station around noon, with a kick-off time schedueled for 2.45pm that afternoon. Plenty of supporters or people who wanted to see this new kind of phys
Rugby, Family and Strava... that’s about it for me to be honest!

Ellery Hanley our Crown Jewel 💎

josie andrews
Posts: 25410
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Re: Happy Birthday Wigan

Post by josie andrews » Thu Nov 21, 2019 1:30 pm

Brilliant read.

Well done 😊🏉🍒⚪️♥️
Anyone can support a team when it is winning, that takes no courage.
But to stand behind a team, to defend a team when it is down and really needs you,
that takes a lot of courage.

jobo
Posts: 2923
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Re: Happy Birthday Wigan

Post by jobo » Thu Nov 21, 2019 1:31 pm

Nice one AAL, a very interesting post.

No straw damn us
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Re: Happy Birthday Wigan

Post by No straw damn us » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:18 pm

What a great read, thank you A&L.

ancientnloyal
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Re: Happy Birthday Wigan

Post by ancientnloyal » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:48 pm

The story continues just didn’t want to post it all... mainly the matches against a Warrington team

It’s been 9 years since I updated my site some images have now disappeared and the web address has ran out.

I did up to 1883 each year and a bit more even started heritage numbers until the club officially did it with Mike Latham ironically at the same time! (I wasn’t far off being accurate up until 1923!) I shall look at getting things back together with it one day. My daughter was born so had no time to go to Wigan to look at the old newspapers, although Mike Latham once said in correspondence he has a lot he had sourced from years ago... I didn’t follow up in that.

It’s interesting the world we had back then. I still regard Jim Slevin as our first superstar (Slevin electrified what is now the Wigan museum) anyway...

The website is still live on my google account but the formatting has changed somewhat (white text on white background, missing/expired images etc) but if anyone wants a link just ask.
Rugby, Family and Strava... that’s about it for me to be honest!

Ellery Hanley our Crown Jewel 💎

JimmyMagnets
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Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:24 pm

Re: Happy Birthday Wigan

Post by JimmyMagnets » Sat Nov 23, 2019 3:04 pm

Can i have a link please

Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk


JimmyMagnets
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Re: Happy Birthday Wigan

Post by JimmyMagnets » Sat Nov 23, 2019 3:07 pm

Could i have the link please for the site?

ancientnloyal
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Re: Happy Birthday Wigan

Post by ancientnloyal » Sat Nov 23, 2019 3:50 pm

JimmyMagnets wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 3:07 pm
Could i have the link please for the site?

https://sites.google.com/site/wiganrugbypast/home

I need to format it back but if pages seems “white” it’s just because of white text originally. Just need time to slap it all back. Just highlight it all and copy paste to Word
Rugby, Family and Strava... that’s about it for me to be honest!

Ellery Hanley our Crown Jewel 💎

josie andrews
Posts: 25410
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 10:17 pm
Location: Wigan

Re: Happy Birthday Wigan

Post by josie andrews » Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:23 pm

ancientnloyal wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 3:50 pm
JimmyMagnets wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 3:07 pm
Could i have the link please for the site?

https://sites.google.com/site/wiganrugbypast/home

I need to format it back but if pages seems “white” it’s just because of white text originally. Just need time to slap it all back. Just highlight it all and copy paste to Word
That link doesn’t seem to work Marc 🤔
Anyone can support a team when it is winning, that takes no courage.
But to stand behind a team, to defend a team when it is down and really needs you,
that takes a lot of courage.

JimmyMagnets
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:24 pm

Re: Happy Birthday Wigan

Post by JimmyMagnets » Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:14 pm

Yeah the link doesnt work pal

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