There was not much hype surrounding the start of the 1881-82 campaign in Wigan. The summer had been dominated by the cricket club with regards to press but as soon as september drew to a close, the winter game would kick in. Wigan had last played in mid-February ending their last campaign quite badly and short of games. Would 1881-82 seem to be an improvement?
On October 1st a 'Grand Football Match' was arranged between Wigan and Aspull. By now, Aspull had left behind their cricketing roots and were a well established rugby club. The game coincided with an annual bicycle race held at the cricket ground on Prescott Street, so was seen as an end of cricket season festival to get some money in! The game was played in intervals between races and were 30 minutes each way. A young Dick Seddon appeared in the Aspull team, Dicky would later become a key member for both clubs in the coming years.
Widnes were the first team to trouble Wigan in mid-October at the Cricket Ground on Prescott Street. Widnes dominated the game and won quite convincingly. There is nothing much to report to be honest. A game however, took place a week later between the Wigan second team and Haigh Schools. The importance of this was that for the second team, Ellis Wardle, J. Halliwell, Charlie Holt, John "Parrot" Anderton played, whereas for Haigh, a certain Ned Bullough was in the school team. The importance of this, these men would become the spine of the Wigan team of the future, and Ned Bullough would be a future England International! But thats over a decade away...
A game away at Widnes Excelsior was pencilled in and reported to be taking place on 29th October, no record of it, as yet, has materialised, sadly. Wigan's second recorded match would be against Leigh on bonfire night. Wigan travelled with seven first team members and several second team players. The ground was 'like a pool in places' and all the players got a right old showering. despite the best efforts of Alker, Cronshaw and Slevin, The Leythers won the contest quite easily in the end.
The following week, Newton were the visitors to the cricket ground. They waited a full hour until Wigan captain Charlie Cronshaw escorted his fully representative team on to the field. A first win of the season was welcome news to the Wigan public as Cronshaw's men easily won by 5 tries to nil. After two opening losses against Widnes and Leigh, Wigan had started to show signs of playing with a good combination between forwards and the backs.
Wigan made the trip to Birkacre in mid-November with only thirteen men. Several of those were second team players but they did enough to win against the Birkacre fifteen despite there being a disputed goal after a try by Berry. Wigan's three-quarter back Joe Clegg had managed to run the full length of the field before being collared by the Birkacre fullback... he luckily had time to pass to Berry who scored a try under the posts. For some reason Birkacre disputed this but the Wigan umpire awarded the try and a goal resulted.