Part 5: 1887

A History of the Wigan Union Football Charity Cup Competition: Part 5, 1887

With the popularity of rugby football taking off in West Lancashire, the Wigan Charity Cup suddenly found it's home slapped on the end of the season in mid-April. The newly organised West Lancashire Cup held a position throughout March and the Wigan club, for example, had arranged a lucrative end-of-season trip to South Wales to face Cardiff and Llanelly. So, for the senior competition at least, the Cup matches were arranged to encroach into the traditional start of the cricket season.

The Wigan Union Rugby Football Charity Challenge Cup Competition held it's usual early season meeting in mid-October. Wigan, Haigh, Aspull, Blackrod, Highfield, Wigan Rovers, Pemberton, Scot Lane, Ince Conservative Athletic, Standish, and St. James's were all elected to form the committee with Mr. G. Dawber again being re-elected secretary.

An adjourned meeting was held on the 28th for the purpose of confirming the proposed Alteration of Rules and other important matters. Representatives of sixteen clubs turned up with Mr. Benson of the Haigh club presiding over matters. In the Junior Competition, rule 12, was made to read: "All players must qualify by the 1st of January. No player who played in the senior competition last year will be allowed to play in the junior competition this year." The first ties of the Junior Comp will be played by the third Saturday of January, with the competition running each week until completion. As yet, the ties for the senior competition were yet to be fixed. It was resolved that no runners-up medals were to be awarded, and that the entrance fee of 5s. for each club abolished.

A date was set for final entries to be given in to Mr. Dawber of January 5th, 1887. On that date, a meeting was held in the usual watering hole of the Legs of Man Hotel where the first round of the Junior Cup ties were drawn, which resulted as follows:

Standish v. St. James's

Woodman Rovers v. Ince

Scot Lane v. Wigan Wanderers

Whelley v. Newtown

Red Rock Rovers v. Standish South End

Wigan Rovers v. Goose Green

Platt Bridge & Wigan North End - bye

Ties were to start on the weekend of January 15th, on the ground of the first named club. Quite a little exciting local derby between Red Rock and Standish South End was gladly welcomed by all in the room. As yet, the Senior Cup ties were a way off, but the first round ties would be drawn once the first ties of the West Lancashire and Border Towns Competition had been published a few weeks later in February.

Ince Conservatives, playing in their first competition found themselves with a daunting trip up to Bottling Wood to face the Woodman Rovers. The "Pluckies" were one of the strongest junior sides in Lancashire and in time would supply Wigan with many quality players. One of those stars was one Billy Halliwell who during this game as arguably the man of the match, helping the Pluckies to a 6 points to nil win despite a strong wind blowing. As you may be aware, Halliwell became a Legend at Wigan in the coming years, but that is to be read elsewhere.

Over at Scot Lane, both the "Lanerites" and Wanderers were in quite a pickle when the recent bad weather meant that their usual field was not playable. Luckily, early that morning, efforts were made with the local farmer (of whose land was used for Scot Lane's matches) to use a drier field. Scenes were seen whereby the goal posts were carried through fields and the grass white-washed and touchlines ready for combat. It really did not benefit Scot Lane being at "home" as the surroundings were as foreign to them as they were to the Wigan Wanderers. After a well fought encounter, Scot Lane came out inners by 1 try and 5 minors, to 4 minors. The Wanderers had not played a better game but fell short of the skilled Scot Lane forwards, the school of which Wigan's Billy Atkinson was educated in. The Wanderers complained of being unjustly treated. On of their men got a free kick, and the Wanderers say that the ball was rightly placed, but the referee, Mr. Benson of Haigh F.C., thought otherwise, and allowed a dead ball.

Whelley had no problems against Newtown despite their field being in a very hard condition. After a "pleasant" game, Whelley got their name into the Round 2 hat by 1 goal, 6 tries and 7 minor points, to 1 minor point. In the remaining ties, Red Rock crumbled against Standish South End, and the Wigan Rovers cooked the Pemberton Goose (Goose Green) by 3 tries, 5 minor points to 4 minor points. The game between Standish and St James's was put off due to the state of the pitch. St James failed to turn up due to this but Standish claimed the win.

Over in Aspull, things were changing. In mid-January, the gears were starting to turn with regard to their move from their village centre ground (behind modern-day Spar) to a new ground in New Springs. Opposition to the proposed move was mounting and in a nutshell, we start to see the downfall of the Great Aspull club as a result over the coming years.

On to February and the second round of the Junior Competition. It was time for Platt Bridge and Wigan North End to enter the fray:

Platt Bridge v. Standish

Standish South End v. Woodman Rovers

Wigan Rovers v. Whelley

Scot Lane v. North End

The two former ties were to be played a week later owing to a fixture clash with the junior version of the West Lancashire Cup Competition. After being cooked by the Wigan Rovers in the previous round, the Geese of the Green withdrew from the committee which meant that Standish South End took their place.

With being drawn together in round 2, both Standish South End and the "Pluckies" also had a date in the West Lancashire Cup competition. On this occasion, the Standish boys triumphed.

The Wigan Rovers and Whelley tie finished 15-7 in favour of the Rovers. A goal by Berry and several minor points was enough to overcome a strong Whelley outfit who included J. Topping in their squad. Topping, at the end of the year, would find himself in the Wigan first team as the premier club struggled to find an appropriate fullback.

Part 5: 1887