Wigan Football Roots : Wigan United FC

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The town, and Springfield Park was once again crying out for another team after the unfortunate demise of Wigan County and by the start of season (1900/01) another club had been formed called Wigan United. And they were to play in the Lancashire League, the same League as the ill-fated Wigan County. The word doing the rounds in the town was that this club was going to set the League on fire and within twelve months would be playing in the Second Division of the Football League. Quite an impressive statement.

When it was time to prove to the public of the borough that United meant business they failed dismally. The first ever League game they played was against Southport Central and an eager and expectant crowd saw United lose 1-4. United did not play at Springfield Park until November 1900 and spent their first three months in existence playing at the West End Ground which was situated in Poolstock. By the end of the season United finished second from bottom of the Lancashire League.

The Rawcliffe Charity Cup provided a game unique in the sporting annals of Wigan sporting history and probably in the history of the Football Association. United had beaten Blackburn Rovers 2-1 and Chorley 4-2 and in the third round they had been drawn against Stalybridge Celtic away. On arriving at the ground the United team refused to play on the very heavily waterlogged pitch. The referee then instructed the Stalybridge team to get changed and dribble the ball down the pitch into the empty Wigan net to win the game!

Their full League record for season 1900/01 was,

P 20, W 3, D 3, L 14, F 21, A 49, Pts 9

The team finished in 10th place in the League. There were 11 teams in it.

The following season (1901/02) saw United sharing Springfield Park with the Wigan Rugby club. The teams used the ground on alternate Saturdays. It was whilst playing at Springfield Park that the Wigan Rugby team won the first major rugby honour for the town when they won the Lancashire Senior League on 24th April 1902 after beating Millom 8-0 away from home.

The first game that the rugby club played at Springfield Park resulted in a 12-0 (T; Lees, Barr G; Rothwell) victory over Morecambe on 14th September 1901. The last competitive game that the Wigan rugby team played at Springfield Park was on 12th April 1902 when they defeated St Helens 11-2 (T; Barr 2, Rouse G; Nelson) In fact the rugby club never lost a game at Springfield Park. At this time in their history the club were still playing the Northern Union code. The present Rugby League code only came into existence in season 1922/23. Their present home of Central Park was built on grazing land near Powell Street and the club moved there in September 1902.

On 29th March 1902 Wigan United played the legendary Edinburgh St Bernard’s FC in a friendly game at Springfield Park, going down 0-2 in front of 2,000 fans. United had a terrific season and finished the campaign in third place in the League behind Champions Darwen and second placed Southport Central.

Their full League record for season 1901/02 was,

P 24, W 13, D 3, L 6, F 56, A 25, Pts 33

The team finished in 3rd place in the League. There were 13 teams in it.

The 1902/03 season was the last that United played as a team. They finished the season bottom of the League after winning just one game. They only played at Springfield Park until January of that season when their lease ran out. The club then had to play all their remaining games away from home. This in turn affected the club’s morale, credibility and finances and nobody was surprised when a very poor United outfit went the same way as Wigan County.

Their full League record for season 1902/03 was,

P 22, W 1, D 3, L 18 F 18, A 74, Pts 5

The team finished in 12th place in the League. There were 12 teams in it.

The Lancashire League itself closed down at the end of the season as well. It seemed that once again a Wigan association club had failed to establish the game in the town.

There was no association football in Wigan for two years. Hindley Central, a local amateur team kept the game of Association Football in the public eye when they won the Wigan Cup in season 1904/05 by beating Tyldesley Albion 3-0 at Atherton in front of 1,000 fans.

In 1919 another team called Wigan United were formed and they went on to become the legendary Wigan Borough. However, they had no connections with this particular United club.

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