Ian Morrisons book 'Wigan RLFC 1895-1986' is a bible. It documents almost each and every Wigan match since the formation of the Northern Union in September 1895 against Broughton Rangers all the way through to the 1985/86 season. Work has continued on the www.cherryandwhite.co.uk from that season to the modern era. But what about pre-1895? Luckily, earlyWIGANrugby has painstakingly done the research to document every Wigan rugby match from 1873 (no games in 1872) to the formation of the Northern Union in 1895, where Ian Morrison's work began.
The main sources used to gain this data are from local newspapers such as the Wigan Observer and local papers in towns that Wigan played in. The Athletic News is also a good source to get the information required. However, the match reports or comments do not always contain full team lineups due to a number of reasons such as lack of space for example. For the team line ups you will not always see 15 names (as we played with 15 men back then). A full fifteen did not always turn up to play and there are many games where fourteen or thirteen men played. It was common for the opposition to lend a man to make up the numbers.
Therefore, it would be inaccurate for me to include names not included in a team sheet but were 99% guaranteed to have played. For example, if you read the following in a match report 'Wigan were full strength apart from Seddon and Atkinson', it would be unwise to include the other 13 players that played the previous week. The back line were usually the same, especially from the mid-1880s, but it would be wrong to assume so-and-so played with it being documented in sources. You can't make up facts despite good probabilities.
The data on the relevant pages are always being checked, and double checked to be as accurate as possible without making any of it up. Incomplete games such as the 1882/83 season may have happened but as yet we cannot find relevant data. Games that were scheduled to be played but not given in the local paper the following Wednesday meant that it was postponed for whatever reason. A hint would be in the Observers friday edition commenting, for example 'Old Jack (Frost) as at his iciest last week', meaning the frost had the game called off. You get the idea.
By all means, when you view these early games and teams and find errors let me know, never trust anything, which is the beauty of research and history.
On the following pages are season by season accounts and the story behind them. Just click the links!
New Beginnings - 1879-1884
Growth & Success - 1884-1891
The Road to Professionalism- 1891-1895
Have a look at Wigan's head to head records versus the clubs we played between 1879 and 1895. The earlier clubs will be online soon. Check out who we played and a bit about several of the teams we faced. Believe it or not, St Helens were not our arch enemy! Find out who was...