Continuing our celebration of the oval ball game and our trawl through the archives, here’s an article from the (occassionally) respectable Johnny Bogroll recalling a story that would be enough to put you off anything, let alone playing with funny shaped balls.
Why I hate the rugby.
Reason #437: They illegally dispose of dead bodies
It was around the turn of the 1990’s and myself and a few mates had finished school and had gone out for the night, scaled the wall of Central Park and got busy vandalising exploring the ground.
At the time, the new Whitbread Stand was being built. We’d had hours of fun inside there, especially one night when the workers had left all their tools behind. Leaving hand held circular saws behind for a group of 10 and 11 year olds to find is just asking for trouble and needless to say, when they arrived in work the next day to find days of work had been ‘reversed’, they learned not to leave anything behind again.
This night however, we would find something left behind that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
We’d headed over to the side of the ground where the work had now moved to after finishing off the Whitbread Stand. They were now building a car park in the corner, behind the Popular Side. We were roaming around the site, in between big fertilizer bags of rubble, inspecting them for anything worth taking when my brother started laughing.
“What the hell is that in that bag over there, it looks like a giant potato! Have they dug up a vegetable patch?”
He walked over to it, proceeded to pick it up and the next thing we heard was a loud “AAAAARGGGHHHH!!!” and he jolted back falling to the ground and just lay there shaking.
“What is it, what was in there? Stop messing around” I said.
He just lay there speechless.
I walked over to the bag, looked inside and couldn’t believe what I was looking at. An image that is still to today burned into my mind. It was full to the brim of human skulls and bones.
A couple of minutes later after the other two had managed to brave a look inside and we’d just about composed ourselves, we started looking in the other bags. They were all full of the same. Scores of bags of human remains.
What the hell was going on? Was this for real? It’d be one thing finding all this nowadays but as 10 and 11 year olds you can only imagine at all the scenarios that were going through our heads. Had Maurice Lindsey murdered a load of Latics fans and asked the builders to bury them under the new car park patio?
There was only one way to find out. We’d have to come back down the next day and confront the builders.
We all marched down there in the morning and as we arrived the remains were all being dumped into a skip that had by the looks of it had just been delivered.
“Where have all these skulls and bones come from mister?”
“Dunno cock. They must have something to do with the church there. We dug them all up yesterday.”
“So what are you doing with them now?” I asked.
“They’re just being dumped with the rest of the rubble”
“Just being dumped?! You can’t do that with them! Do the police know about it? Do the church know you’ve dug them up?”“Listen lad, it’s nothing to do with me. I’m just doing what I’ve been told by the rugby club. Apparently they’re probably a couple of hundred years old, the police aren’t going to be bothered about them.”
This didn’t sit right with us. If you dig up human remains, you can’t just dump them can you?!
On our way home we bumped into a neighbour and we told him the whole story. As you’d imagine, he didn’t believe us so we took him down to see for himself. He stood there shocked for about 5 minutes before arguing with the builders on site. He then rushed back home and got on the phone to his daughter who worked for the Evening Post.
The next day it was front page news. “Skullduggery!” was the headline with one of my mates holding up a skull in one of his hands.
It turns out the rugby had bought some of the back land off St Marys church to build their car park. Under this land though was an old paupers graveyard and this is what had been uncovered.
The problem is though, This is the only bit of truth that the article contained. It went on to say the bodies hadn’t been found when we uncovered them but we’d alerted the rugby club to our discovery. The rugby had then gone on to make arrangements for the bodies to be buried elsewhere on consecrated land.
Except this wasn’t what happened was it? The rugby had made the discovery themselves and were getting ready to dump them. We’d seen them being chucked in with the rest of the rubble with skulls being crushed with the weight of it all.
The builders were later to tell us that a certain former bookmaker was furious about being found out and had to spend a small fortune on relocating the remains to other burial ground.
The whole episode just went to show the arrogance of the club during this period. To think they could uncover a mass burial ground and get away with just dumping the bodies without recrimination. Never mind the legal side of it, what about the morals of doing something like this! In the end though they DID get away with it. Just like they’ve always got away with stuff due to the council, police and papers turning a blind eye to it.
The fabrication by the newspaper over the story was infuriating and several of our parents were on the phone to state the story was not true and to ask why our side of the story hadn’t been put across. I guess you could say who would believe a group of kids? Well I suspect if we’d uncovered this at Springfield Park the paper would have put a very different story across:
‘Goon squad victims uncovered: Wigan Athletic secrets exposed’
THis article first appeared in The Mudhutter magazine, the latest issue of which, co-incidentially, is out tomorrow. If you fancy a bitof light reading, some of which may even be related to Latics then the details are here.
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