pre - Heritage Numbers
As very little is known about rugby in general compared to post-1895, it feels that sometimes in literature and in public life that not much happened before the split. Unless of course you read in to it and look for it. What has amazed me is the number of gentlemen who have at the very least played for the Wigan clubs before 1895. You shall see the lists below.
On these following pages you will find heritage numbers for the players who represented the Wigan club between 1873-1877, and the numbers for those gents who represented the "Wigan Wasps" from 1879 - which is today's Wigan Warriors club.
As the 'official' heritage numbers start from that first match of the Northern Union against Broughton Rangers on 7th September, 1895 (with Billy Benson claiming #1) it was only correct to award those players before the great split with one themselves.
Of course, record keeping and the recording of team sheets in the 1870s and 1880s was not like we see today. For purposes of validity (I guess) earlyWIGANrugby can only go off the information that has been seen from original sources. Matches whereby there is no team news didn't necessarily mean that, for example, James Slevin played in it. This means, of course, that there are plenty of matches where there are players which made their debuts for Wigan but it wasn't recorded down.
As with everything on this site, 'facts' can change with evidence, and so too the numbers given to the following gentlemen.
In time, hopefully this section will grow so we know more about the key players, or even those players who may have interesting facts given to them (such as G.F. McCorquodale, #38, who inherited £46,000,000 or so in today's money).
Wigan Football Club ~ 1873 - 1877
J. Melling (#36) and J. Williams (#45) have been highlighted in red. The purpose of this is that they are the only two players, to the best of my knowledge, who have played for the 1872 and 1879 versions of the Wigan Club. Williams, a talented half back, briefly captained the Wigan Wasps and has heritage number 17.1 as a consequence. Melling, #23.1, only figured in three matches for Wigan between 1873 and 1880.
Wigan Wasps - Wigan Football Club ~ 1879 - 1895
For purposes of differentiation the following numbers will have a ".1" at the end. For now.
So, we have a bare minimum of 344 players who have played for today's Wigan Warriors before the Great Split. As a disclaimer, for now, I have included those who have guested for Wigan, or played against scratch teams (eg "Welsh Wanderers"). There are plenty of arguments as to what should count as a fully functional game of rugby. Some argue that Cup competitions should be classed as the only matches that a heritage number could be awarded to as in some instances, competition rules meant that you couldn't just bring in the cream of rugby talent for a cup run, such as the West Lancashire and Border Towns Union Competition. The Wigan Charity Cup had similar rules whereby players had to be registered or qualified to play in the game.
For my thought, which is still an open one, I wanted to show the range and quantity of players that have represented Wigan, have tackled and scored and contributed to a Wigan performance.
As you can see from the list above, we have had plenty of quality players synonymous with the rugby code in the earlier days. Tom Coop, the Lancashire and England International played a total of 13 games for Wigan, scoring three goals... which is quite considerable. Tommy Sudlow of Salford and St Helens played nine times scoring three tries himself in the process. Harry Eagles and Tom Kent had a hand in a couple of games for Wigan, so too did the famous Bonger "Buff" Berry who played a West Lancashire v Westmorland County match at Aspull in the early afternoon and then played for Wigan against Rochdale Hornets later in the day - Slevin, Wardle and Atkinson convincing him of the walk through New Springs and Whelley would be worth it.
More information will be added of course, such as last games, tries, goals, miscellaneous information etc.