Wigan Warriors
Full name Wigan Warriors Rugby

League Football Club

Nick name(s) The Warriors,

Cherry & Whites, Pie Eaters,

Emblem Wigan coat of arms
Colours Cherry & White
Founded 1872
Sport Rugby League
League Super League (Europe)
Ground JJB Stadium
Capacity 24,826
Coach England Brian Noble
Captain England Sean O'Loughlin
Chairman England Maurice Lindsay
League Wins (including Super League): 1908-09, 1921-22, 1925-26, 1933-4, 1945-46, 1946-47, 1949-50, 1951-52, 1959-60, 1986-87, 1989-90, 1990-91, 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96, 1998 (18 times)
Grand Final Wins 1998 (1)
Challenge Cup Wins 1923/24, 1928/29,

1947/48, 1950/51,

1957/58, 1958/59,

1964/65, 1984/85,

1987/88, 1988/89,

1989/90, 1990/91,

1991/92, 1992/93,

1993/94, 1994/95,

2002 (17)

Official website www.wiganwarriors.com

Wigan Warriors are a professional rugby league club based in Wigan, Greater Manchester, England. The team currently plays in the Super League. Their coach is currently Brian Noble who made the move to the Warriors on 20th April 2006 following over a week of speculation on his future at his former club Bradford Bulls.

The team's players wear cherry and white hooped shirts with white or red shorts, and play at the JJB Stadium. The club is owned by Dave Whelan, who also owns Wigan Athletic F.C. and JJB Sports.

Wigan's fans are also known as 'the pie eaters' this may be a reference to the 1926 general strike when Wigan miners were forced to eat 'humble pie' and return to work before miners in other towns, even though they had been on strike before the other towns joined in. [1]. Alternatively the name 'pie eaters' may have been in circulation prior to this and 'humble' was simply added to it.

Wigan's academy has produced some of the greatest ever rugby league players and some of their players have gone on to play rugby union. Having won both the Championship a record 18 times and the Challenge Cup a record 17 times, they are one of the most successful rugby league clubs in English history. Since the advent of the Super League, such success has been elusive, although they were Super League champions in 1998 and Challenge Cup winners in 2002.


Early years

The town’s first rugby club was Wigan F.C. founded in 1872 by a group of members of the town’s cricket club. Wigan F.C. played on Folly Field, near Upper Dicconson Street. Until financial problems and an inability to recruit quality players led to a merger with Up Holland F.C. to form Wigan and District F.C. The new club played its home games at the then Wigan Cricket Club, in Prescott Street. Eighteen months later Wigan and District disbanded.

In 1879 Wigan Wasps was formed following a meeting in the Dicconson Arms. The club initially played in blue and white hooped jerseys before changing in 1886 to cherry and white hoops.[2]

Wigan were suspended by the RFU for breaking the strict amateur code despite their argument that broken-time payments were necessary to avoid undue hardship for their working class players. In 1895 Wigan joined with other clubs from Yorkshire and Lancashire to found the Northern Union which led to the sport of rugby league.

Early 20th century

On 6 September 1902 the club played at its new purpose built ground Central Park for the first time against Batley in the opening match of the newly formed First Division. An estimated crowd of 9,000 spectators saw Wigan beat Batley 14-8.

Wigan won the first Lancashire Cup in 1906. In 1911 Wigan lost the cup final to Broughton Rangers. In 1922 Jim Sullivan joined Wigan from Cardiff rugby union team. In that same year, Wigan became a limited company. In 1924 Wigan won the Challenge Cup for the first time.

In the first Challenge Cup Final to be played at Wembley in 1929, Wigan beat Dewsbury 13-2 before a crowd of 41,500. Wigan’s Syd Abram scored the first try and Jim Sulllivan lifted the trophy.

In 1933 the Prince of Wales attended Central Park, becoming the first royal to watch a rugby league match. Wigan defeated the touring French in 1934. Due to the limited amount of rugby league played during World War Two, Wigan played in the 1941 Yorkshire Cup.

Wigan signed Jim Sullivan in June 1921 when he was only seventeen. His cash value was put at £750, which was a staggering signing-on fee for an adolescent who had not yet played thirteen-a-side rugby. His first game was at home against Widnes on 27 August, 1921, and he scored ten points in a 21-0 win.

Almost inevitably, Sullivan scored the first points in a rugby league match at Wembley Stadium, kicking a penalty after only three minutes of the inaugural Challenge Cup Final against Dewsbury in 1929, in which he led Wigan to a 13-2 victory. Sullivan became player-coach in 1932.

Post World War Two

Sullivan's last game for Wigan was at Mount Pleasant, Batley, on 23 February 1946. He remained at Central Park for another six seasons as coach.

In 1948 Wigan took part in the first televised rugby league match when their 8-3 Challenge Cup Final victory over Bradford Northern was broadcast to the Midlands. In another first this was the first rugby league match to be attended by the reigning monarch, King George VI, who presented the trophy. In 1952 Wigan won their sixth consecutive Lancashire Cup.

Billy Boston, a young Welshman doing his National Service in the Royal Signals, made his debut for Wigan in 1953. Eric Ashton signed for Wigan for £150 in 1955. Wigan went to Wemberley six times in the Boston era and won three times. He played his last match in the cherry and white, against Wakefield Trinity at the end of April 1968.

Eric Ashton coached Wigan from 1963 to 1973.

Wigan set the longest unbeaten run of league matches with 31 with the last 8 matches of 1969-70 and first 23 of 1970-71.

In 1980, Wigan were relegated, but won promotion the following season.

In 1985 Ellery Hanley signed for Wigan for a fee of £150,000, with Steve Donlan and Phil Ford moving in the opposite direction as part of the deal. Ellery finished his first season with 35 tries.

Between February and October 1987 Wigan won a record 29 games in a row as follows: 20 Division One, 3 Premiership Trophy, 4 Lancashire Cup, 1 Charity Shield, 1 World Club Challenge. In 1987, Wigan defeated Australian club Manly-Warringah 8-2 in front of a crowd of over 38,000 at Central Park for an unofficial World Club Championship.

Wigan won the Challenge Cup every year between 1988 and 1995, including six consecutive championship and cup doubles between 1990 and 1995. No team had previously won a national trophy three times in a row. Wigan produced home-grown stars like Shaun Edwards, Denis Betts and Andy Farrell, as well as attracting the cream of British talent - players like Ellery Hanley, Martin Offiah who joined in January 1991 for a fee of £440,000 a record for a total cash transfer, Andy Platt and Joe Lydon. High class imports like the Iro brothers and long-serving Graeme West were also a factor. Their dominance was reinforced by moving to full-time professionalism in a game where part-time players were the norm.

In 1992 Wigan became World Champions by defeating Australian club Penrith. However, in 1993, Wigan were beaten by Brisbane at Central Park. In a rematch one year later, Wigan beat Brisbane at the ANZ Stadium in Australia to win the 1994 World Club Championship. Wigan Rugby League team were BBC Sports Team of the Year in 1994 the first rugby league team to win the award. Wigan won the award against some tough opposition including the Premier League and FA Cup winning Manchester United team.

In 1995, Wigan won the Challenge Cup for a record eighth consecutive time. They also won the league title for a record seventh consecutive time.

Super League era

In 1998 the Grand Final and play-offs were introduced into Super League. Wigan Warriors beat Leeds Rhinos 10-4 in the first Grand Final.

As part of the Rugby League's "on the road" scheme Wigan Warriors met Gateshead Thunder at Tynecastle, Edinburgh.

After a buy-out by Dave Whelan, both the Warriors and the town's local soccer team, Wigan Athletic, moved to the JJB Stadium. Wigan's final game at Central Park was against arch rivals St Helens in 1999 which was won by Wigan. The first game at the new stadium was a defeat in a Super League play-off match against Castleford Tigers on 19 September 1999.

Frank Endacott joined Wigan Warriors as head coach after the 1999 season and coached them until 2001, when he was sacked. In 2000, Wigan made it to the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford but lost 29-16 to St Helens.

Stuart Raper was offered the role of head coach at Wigan for the 2001 season. In his first season in charge, the Warriors finished second in the table and were unbeaten in competitive matches at the JJB Stadium. They made it all the way to the 2001 Grand Final; although they ended up losing 37-6 to the Bradford Bulls. He remained with Wigan for a further two seasons in 2002 and 2003 where they finished a respectable third in both seasons but were unable to reach the grand final. Wigan did, however, win the 2002 Challenge Cup overcoming St Helens 21-12 at Murrayfield.

Following the departure of head coach Stuart Raper in July 2003, Mike Gregory was appointed head coach until the end of the 2003 season, while Denis Betts replaced Gregory as assistant. It was the first time since Colin Clarke, in 1985, that a Wigan born man had been head coach of Wigan. He spent three months as caretaker coach, remaining unbeaten for 11 matches and guiding Wigan to the Grand Final making them the first side from outside the top two to get there. Wigan were beaten by Bradford in front of a record, sell-out crowd of 65,537 at Old Trafford, Manchester.

Denis Betts took temporary charge in May 2004 when Gregory stepped down due to illness. He held the position for a year before he was moved sideways by the club to make way for the appointment of new head coach Ian Millward. St Helens defeated Wigan Warriors in the Challenge Cup final at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff in front of a sell-out 73,734 crowd

In May 2005 Wigan appointed Ian Millward as head coach above Denis Betts, just two weeks after his acrimonious departure from Wigan's fiercest rivals, St Helens. He had a difficult start with the Warriors, losing a Super League match 70-0 to Leeds and, more humiliatingly, a Challenge Cup tie at St Helens 75-0. In the latter game the difference in class between the two clubs had become widely apparent and signalled dark times for Wigan.

Wigan ended the season seventh in the Super League, missing out on the play-offs for the first time in the competition's history. Betts left in November 2005 after refusing to take a post as under-21s coach.

Mike Gregory's contract was not renewed by Wigan and expired in 2005 which resulted in Mike taking Wigan and the club owner, Dave Whelan to court claiming that Wigan should have done more to help him carry on. The case was settled out of court with Wigan agreeing to pay £17,500 to Mike Gregory.

On 11th April 2006 Millward was sacked for their poor start to the Super League XI season; Wigan had won just one of the first eight rounds, which had the club staring relegation in the face. He was replaced by Bradford Bulls & Great Britain coach Brian Noble who was announced as the new head coach of Wigan Thursday 20 April 2006. He started his Wigan tenure with a 46-14 win over the Huddersfield Giants at the Galpharm Stadium. Kris Radlinski came back out of retirement to play for free to try to save his old club. He was joined by Stuart Fielden who joined from Bradford for a record fee.

A run of good results lifted Wigan clear of relegation and made the great escape, Brian Noble is one of the greatest escape artists of all time, but they were docked two points for breaching the 2005 Super League salary cap, also with a £50,000 fine.[3]

Current squad

As of 15 January, 2007:

Number Player Position Previous Club
1 United Kingdom Chris Ashton Full Back Wigan Academy
2 United Kingdom Mark Calderwood Winger Leeds Rhinos
3 Australia Phil Bailey Centre Cronulla Sharks
4 Republic of Ireland Michael Withers Centre Bradford Bulls
5 Australia Pat Richards Winger Wests Tigers
6 Australia Trent Barrett Stand Off St George Illawarra Dragons
7 New Zealand Thomas Leuluai Scrum Half Harlequins RL
8 United Kingdom Stuart Fielden Prop Bradford Bulls
9 United Kingdom Mickey Higham Hooker Bradford Bulls
10 New Zealand Iafeta Paleaaesina Prop New Zealand Warriors
11 United Kingdom Gareth Hock Second Rower Wigan Academy
12 Australia Bryan Fletcher Second Rower South Sydney Rabbitohs
13 United Kingdom Sean O'Loughlin Loose Forward Wigan Academy
14 New Zealand David Vaealiki Centre Parramatta Eels
16 Australia Shane Millard Hooker Leeds Rhinos
18 United Kingdom Paul Prescott Prop Wigan Academy
19 New Zealand Harrison Hansen Second Rower Wigan Academy
20 United Kingdom Darrell Goulding Centre Wigan Academy
21 United Kingdom Danny Hill Second Rower Hull FC
22 United Kingdom Joel Tomkins Second Rower Wigan Academy
23 United Kingdom Liam Colbon Winger Wigan Academy
24 United Kingdom Eamon O'Carroll Prop Wigan Academy
25 United Kingdom Michael Mcilorum Hooker Wigan Academy
26 United Kingdom Thomas Coyle Scrum Half Wigan Academy
27 United Kingdom Sean Gleeson Centre Wigan Academy
28 United Kingdom Mark Flanagan Stand Off Bradford Bulls


Transfer for 2007 (In)

Name Signed From Fee Date
Phil Bailey Cronulla Sharks 2006
Trent Barrett St George Illawarra Dragons 2006
Michael Withers Bradford Bulls 2006
Shane Millard Leeds Rhinos 2006
Thomas Leuluai Harlequins RL 2006
Mark Flanagan Bradford Bulls £10,900 2007

Transfer for 2007 (Out)

Name Sold To Fee Date
Wayne Godwin Hull FC 2006
Scott Logan Canberra Raiders 2006
Michael Dobson Canberra Raiders Return from loan 2006
Bryn Hargreaves St Helens Released 2006
Danny Sculthorpe Wakefield Wildcats Released 2006
Brett Dallas Retired 2006
Danny Orr Harlequins RL 2006
Chris Melling Harlequins RL 2006
Oliver Wilkes Widnes Vikings 2006
Nathan McAvoy Bradford Bulls 2007

Coaching Register

Name Contract Started Contract Ended Notes
Brian Noble April 2006 Present N/A
Ian Millward May 2005 April 2006 Sacked
Denis Betts May 2004 May 2005 Quit
Mike Gregory July 2003 November 2005 Sick Leave
Stuart Raper May 2001 July 2003 Sacked
Frank Endacott December 1999 May 2001 Sacked
Andy Goodway June 1999 December 2001 Sacked
John Monie November 1997 June 1999 Left by Mutual Agreement
Eric Hughes February 1997 November 1997 Sacked
Graeme West May 1994 February 1997 Sacked
John Dorahy June 1993 May 1994 Sacked
John Monie September 1989 May 1993 Resigned to take up another post
Graeme Lowe August 1986 June 1989 Left for Family reasons
Colin Clarke & Alan McInnes August 1984 May 1986 Left by Mutual consent
Alex Murphy June 1982 August 1984 Sacked
Maurice Bamford May 1981 May 1982 sacked
George Fairburn April 1980 May 1981 Sacked
Kel Coslett October 1979 April 1980 Sacked
Vince Karalius September 1976 September 1979 Sacked
Joe Coan January 1975 September 1976 Sacked
Ted Toohey May 1974 January 1975 Sacked

Famous Former Players



Player records

Team records

Highest attendance at the JJB (not including football): 25,004 March 2005 vs St Helens