Nothing much of interest crops up throughout most of 1874-75 season regarding the Wigan Football Club. November saw the return of the Rugby season, against locals Bolton. Bolton back then played at their ground in Burnden (Park) which was a nice setting, and played with blue jerseys, socks and cap with white 'knickerbockers':
WIGAN FOOTBALL CLUB - Wigan v. Bolton. November 7, 1874
This, the first match of the new season, came off last Saturday on the ground in Upper Dicconson Street. Wigan won the toss and chose the Swinley goal, leaving Bolton to kick off. For some time Wigan was pressed, and in the first twenty minutes Bolton got three tries from runs in by Cannon, Hulton and Brown; but the place kicks were all failures, although two of them were right opposite the goal. Shaw now made a fine drop at goal, but it was unsuccessful, the ball going over one of the posts. Wigan, up to this, had been playing two men short (their usual custom by the bye), but now one of them turned up, and matters were more equalised, until Shaw, by a magnificent drop secured a goal for Bolton. Ends were now changed, but nothing important took place during the remaining time. Bolton played well together, whereas the Wigan gentlemen, with one or two exceptions, were frequently all at seas, and showed unmistakeably the want of practice. The following were the sides:
Wigan - Peck, Murray, Lawrence, Sowter, Marsden, Sayer (capt.), Bolton, J. Walker; H. Wall, E.R. Walker, backs; Clare, W. Wall, three quarter backs; Bromilow, McCorquodale, half backs.
Bolton - Holden (capt.), Slater, Cannon, Fletcher, W. Kevan, Murton, Rowe, Hulton, Sutherland, Broadhem; Brown, Hargreaves, half backs; Shaw, three quarter back; Mawdsley, J.H. Kevan, backs.
Wigan were not that good. It seems that interest was declining as the play was obviously not that good and Wigan still found it hard to field the correct number of players, even for a Saturday afternoon. The next report from 1874 comes from November 21st against old rivals Southport, played in Wigan (and for some reason quite a lengthy piece) and of course, Wigan were a man down yet again.
WIGAN FOOTBALL CLUB - Wigan v. Southport. November 21, 1874.
This match was played last Saturday on the ground of the Wigan club, and resulted in a draw, very much in favour of Wigan. Southport having won the toss and chosen "kick off", G. Hall started the ball from the Swinley end of the ground. For some time, by some very fierce play, Southport kept the ball in the Wigan quarters, but all attempts at forcing the home lines were frustrated, although Wigan were only playing 14 men. Eventually, however, Wigan was compelled to touch down in self-defence. After the kick out, Wigan now playing a full team, the game was much more even, although before half time they were compelled to touch down again twice. Savage, however, had made some very good runs, as also did Walker. Ends were changed, and Wigan kicked off, but the ball was well returned. The superior stamina of Wigan now began to tell, and slowly but surely the ball was worked down to the visitors' goal, the home forwards at this time playing splendidly together, and being well helped by some good runs by the half-backs. Hayes now got the ball, and nearly dropped a goal, the ball going only a foot or so outside the goal, and Wigan quickly following up, obliged Southport to touch down. After the kick out the ball was once within the Wigan 25 yards, but Walker made a good run, and took it well down to the other end, and eventually Southport were again compelled to touch down. They again took the ball out, but it was of no avail, the ball being kept in their territory for the remainder of the game. Peck now got the ball and made a good run, but being tackled passed it to Murray; he was also collared, and passed it on the Sayer, jun. who, after a very exciting run, succeeded in taking the ball over the Southport goal line, amidst the tremendous cheers of the numerous spectators. The ball being far from the goal, a punt-out was decided on, but the "place" by Walker resulting therefrom was a failure. Wigan followed up quickly, and Savage touched the ball down almost behind the posts. Walker was again entrusted with the "place", but failed to secure the goal; no side was then called. For Southport Hartley (half back) made some good runs, Fletcher and Bromilow played well forward. For Wigan Savage and Walker, behind, played well, while all the forwards played splendidly, following up in a manner that cannot be too highly commended, and never giving the Southport backs or half-backs a chance of getting away.
Wigan - E.H. Woodcock (capt.), H.T. Byrom, G.H. Sowter, A. Peck, J. Lawrence, J.D. Murray, C. Twining, J. Sayer, jun., W. Wall (forwards); C. Savage, W. Hayes (half-backs); J.F.L. Clare (three quarter back); E.R. Walker, H. Wall (backs)
History had to start somewhere. It is a popular belief that The Derby with St Helens goes back to 1895 and begins with the formation of the Northern Union. Of course, Wigan v. Saints matches had been going a full 20 years before the schism. The first match on record (I hope and would imagine) between Wigan and St Helens occurred on December 6th, 1874. The St Helens team boasted a player, Dr. C.F. Newcombe, who was a physician, naturalist and artefact collector and was perhaps the only intelligent player to play for St Helens (joking obviously). The game was played at St Helens. Again, Wigan failed to start the game with the correct number of players, or gentlemen, with only 12 turning out against a full St Helens team.
FOOTBALL - Wigan v. St Helens. December 6, 1874.
This match was played at St. Helens last Saturday afternoon, and resulted in a draw. Wigan won the toss and chose the upper goal for the first half of the game, thus having the wind and hill in their favour, but only playing twelve men against a full team. St. Helens kicked off and for some time kept the ball in the Wigan quarter, eventually managing to touch the ball down behind the wigan goal line. On taking the ball out, however, the omitted to make their mark and were immediately charged, and the ball was taken half way down the ground before they had recovered from their surprise. Two more players now turned up for Wigan and matters became more equalised, and for the rest of the game the ball was in the home part of the ground for the greater part of the time, but no points were scored for either side. For St Helens Jackson and Newcombe played well.
Wigan - J.H. Walker, G.H. Sowter, J.D. Murray, J. Lawrence, A. Peck, C. Twining, H.T. Byrom, J. Sayer, W. Reid, J. Wall (forwards); W. Wall, J.F.L. Clare (capt.)(half backs); H. Wall, E.R. Walker (backs)
St. Helens - W.D. Hermon (capt.), C.F. Newcombe, R. Varley, F. Pritchard, E. Carrington, T. Garner, W. Cook, J. Massey, W.R. Thomson, W. Varley (forwards); H. Varley, E. Jackson (half backs), W. Gamble (three quarter back); J. Broome, E. Jones (backs)
You can't really say much from that report to be honest apart from Wigan playing the game without the full quota of players, again. Not much of note was reported in the press over December and the New Year into 1875 until a game against Rock Ferry, on the Wirral Peninsula, on Saturday 7 February, 1875. Again, the match report is a bit basic:
FOOTBALL - Wigan v. Rock Ferry. February 6, 1875.
Saturday was a most miserable day for football, but, regardless of the weather, a team of ten men journeyed to Liverpool to contend against the "Vipers" of Rock Ferry, The ground, a bad one at the best of times, was in a state better imagined than described. The home team mustered twelve men, and winning the toss chose the top goal, the visitors having to play up-hill. The game was very hotly contested on both sides, the Wigan team, considering the odds against them and the state of the ground, playing very well together. When half time was called the game stood Rock Ferry one goal (disputed), one touch down and one touch in goal, against a touch in goal from Wigan.
Despite atrocious weather conditions Wigan had only managed to send across 10 men to Rock Ferry, a small place just south of Tranmere. From there on in, not very much information had been written regarding the Wigan Football Club. Interest was beginning to decline from firstly a lack of players being available to travel to most away (and home) matches and secondly Wigan were finding it hard to actually win a game. The notes suggest that Wigan only played five matches during the 1874/75 season. It wasn't looking good as Wigan hadn't managed a win. In fact, Wigan hadn't won a match since November 1873 away at Warrington.