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Central Park

(If you would like to contribute pictures to this page email bilko@cherryandwhite.co.uk.)

On Sunday September the 5th 1999, it was time to say farewell to Wigan Rugby League's ancestral home, Central Park after a day short of 97 years. It was built in 1902 out of necessity as the club had out grown its old Prescott Street home due to lack of space.

King Street in Wigan is now well known for its nightlife and numerous nightclubs these days - but it was down that street in a Public Hall on Thursday 22nd January 1902 that a meeting was held in which it was agreed a new ground for Wigan Rugby League would be developed in Powell Street.

That ground was to be known as Central Park and on Saturday 6th September 1902 Wigan played at its new purpose built ground Central Park for the first time against Batley in the opening match of the Northern Union's newly formed First Division. An estimated crowd of 9,000 spectators saw Wigan beat Batley by 14 points to 8. Jimmy Barr, a winger, had the honour of scoring Central Park's first ever try for Wigan three minutes into the game. Billy Halliwell (2) and Benny Rouse also scored tries that day and Dick Rothwell kicked the grounds first goal.

The first derby with St Helens at Central was unfortunately lost as Wigan went down 5-3 in April 1903. A few months later though Central Park hosted it's first ever international when 6,000 fans saw England lose 9-3 to an "Other Nationalities" side.

In 1908-09 Wigan won the league championship for the first time and with that Central Park underwent major improvements. Previously players had changed in the nearby Prince of Wales pub on Greenhough Street (the road which still leads from Scholes down to Central Park Way) but the construction of the famous Central Park pavilion put an end to that as dressing rooms and baths were incorporated into the structure.

As time went by, more improvements were made the first being a wooden stand which was erected on the side which would later become the Douglas Stand, After that a Dutch Barn was erected on the opposite side. Both the structures survived two World Wars, and once the financial constraints imposed by these conflicts were overcome, they were replaced. The Spion Kop end of the ground was open terrace and not covered until later. Also in 1933, The Prince of Wales attended Central Park. He became the first Royal to watch a Rugby League match.

An aerial view of Central Park just before World War II in 1938.

After the Second World War had ended Central Park received more improvements. 1947 saw the Spion Kop end of Central Park covered over an a loudspeaker public address system was installed being used for the first time that year during a friendly game against French club Carcassonne on March 12th.

1950 saw a fire engulf the Central Park pavilion which resulted in rebuilding. Part of the rebuilding included the erection of the popular Riverside club

Central Park Pavillion - Built in 1909 and remained in place to the end despite the Billy Boston Stand over the top of it in 1991.

The visit of St. Helens on 27th March 1959 produced Central Park's all time record attendance of 47,747 which is still a record for any league game in this country. Prices for stand seats that day varied from four shillings (20 pence) to 5 shillings (25 pence) with the ground admission costing 3s-6d (17 and a 1/2 pence) all of which bought gate receipts of £4,804. Wigan went on to win the game 19-14 after holding off a Saints comeback despite having lead 14-0. Eric Ashton, Billy Boston and Roy Evans scored for Wigan that day with Fred Griffiths kicking 5 goals.

w23b.jpg

Don't know when this is from but what a crowd!

1967 saw Central Park get further modernisation as floodlights were erected at a cost of £17,500. At the time, these were the tallest and costliest rugby league floodlights ever built. To celebrate the switch of the new lights, Wigan met Bradford Northern in a special challenge match. Embarrassingly for the club the floodlights would fail twice during the game as it took 98 minutes for the two clubs to battle out a 7-7 draw in front of 12,051 fans. The floodlights were erected specifically so they could play a tournament called the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy. A week after the lights had been switched on they played their first floodlit trophy match in beating Widnes 32-6. They would go on to win that trophy in December 1968 when they beat St Helens 7-4 in a final held at Central Park.

This is what the Billy Boston stand end used to look like prior to renovation. The Electronic Scoreboard replaced a manually operated one during the 1980's which was included into a stone structure. The old manual scoreboard was known as the "Leytham Jenkins" scoreboard named in honour of Jim Leytham and Bert Jenkins who played for the club prior to World War 1.

An external view of Central Park before the Billy Boston Stand was built.

Undersoil heating and an electronic scoreboard were installed during the 1980's, and the new Whitbread Stand, later to be the Billy Boston Stand was finished in 1991, the huge red coloured building was later to become a familiar landmark, the completion of this major engineering construction provided the Wigan supporters with a stadium that boasted a worldwide reputation, 98 years since it sprung from such humble beginnings. The old pavilion pictured above was never knocked down, the Whitbread Stand was just built around it.

The Whitbread stand being built to replace the old pavilion end.........


.......and the finished article - The new Whitbread Stand (later named Billy Boston Stand) which replaced the Old Pavilion in 1991.

Outside of Billy Boston Stand before Last Game at Central Park - September 1999

The Sale of Central Park

The introduction and move to summer rugby in 1996 saw Wigan become emerged in financial difficulty. They had built up debts of £3 million and the clubs board members decided the answer to the financial problems was to sell Central Park.

Local Businessman Dave Whelan, owner of Wigan Athletic Football Club, wanted to buy Central Park and have Latics share the ground with the Warriors. He offered £4.5m for the ground and pledged to spend a further £12.5m to turn it into a 20,000 all seater stadium for both clubs. Shareholders had voted for the idea but the Wigan board had another offer to consider from the Tesco Supermarket chain, which was rumoured to be closer to £10 million. If the Tesco offer was accepted, Wigan would be homeless. The idea was that Wigan would share with Bolton Wanderers new Reebok Stadium, which at the time was being built.

Central Park was the historic home of Wigan Rugby League and the fans were outraged at the suggestion of Wigan moving four miles out of town to Bolton's Reebok Stadium.

In late February 1997 news emerged that Wigan were holding talks with Bolton about a ground share. Dave Whelan responded to the news by offering to virtually wipe out the club's debts within 48 hours. In early March Tesco increased their offer to buy Central Park to £12.5 million and news broke that the ground sale was to "go-ahead". Fans held a protest outside Central Park ahead of a pre season friendly against Castleford whilst other fans chose to boycott the game. Some fans even travelled down to Tesco Headquarters and protested there! The Wigan fans simply did not want the club to move to Bolton, even if it was for a temporary period. They could not believe the board could sell the ground without a permanent new home being in place.

The Wigan board was made up of four people, Jack Robinson, Arthur Thomas, Tom Rathbone and John Martin. They had a vote over Whelan's offer and Martin, who ran the Riverside Club at Central Park, was the only member of the board who voted for it. The other three voted against as they were holding out for an increased offer from Tesco and thus seeing us move out of the town to Bolton. Following the vote Martin resigned has he had become frustrated by the board's apparent lack of urgency to agree the Whelan plan despite shareholders voting in favour of the move.

As the month wore on over 200 disgruntled shareholders met to discuss the controversial decision to sell Central Park to Tesco. They also backed a petition calling for the removal of chairman Jack Robinson and Mick Rathbone from the board immediately.

Into May 1997 and shareholders had decided they wanted to oust Jack Robinson as chairman. A shareholders action group claimed the board sold Central Park to Tesco without consultation after previously agreeing to accept a rescue package from millionaire Dave Whelan. Former player Phil Clarke was offered to the shareholders as the man to lead the ousting bid. The group's next move will be a circular to the club's 1500 shareholders seeking support for their attempt to remove Mr Robinson and his vice-chairman Tom Rathbone at an Emergency General Meeting on May 20.

A week before the shareholders EGM, Wigan unveil details of a proposed new super stadium. But critics of the board fear that if the team moves out of town to Bolton Wanderers' new stadium at Horwich they will never return to Wigan. Robinson had met the shareholders' action group that week but their spokesman Ernie Benbow said at the time that "he was unable to give any categorical assurances about a site in Wigan."

At the same time Dave Whelan unveiled plans to build a new 25,000 seater stadium for Wigan Athletic at Robin Park but he refused to open ground share negotiations with the Wigan board after the collapse of his Central Park rescue package earlier this year.

On 20th May Wigan shareholders held the EGM and Jack Robinson survived, for now. Robinson won a vote of confidence 484 to 400 while fellow board member, Rathbone held on by 489 to 407. So Robinson was still chairman but Wigan were still homeless. The wrangling was far from over.

June 1997 saw the Wigan team embark on month long trip down under for the World Club Challenge. The trip had quietened the ground move saga but as they returned Jack Robinson faced a new vote of confidence from the shareholders. A newspaper reported that an associate gathered proxy votes for the original EGM in May by fraudulent methods. The paper claimed someone was instructed to fill in forms for shareholders who were believed to have died so they could be used as votes in favour of the two Wigan directors. Robinson reacted by saying "(The claims) are totally untruthful. This is just part of a smear campaign which has been going on by a certain group of people who want me out of the club."

On August 19th 1997 Jack Robinson and Tom Rathbone resigned from the Wigan board. Then Wigan Coach Eric Hughes revealed that the pair had their homes damaged and their lives threatened. Following the resignations the Rugby Football League's financial department were called in by the club to investigate its cash flow position. Arthur Thomas was the only remaining board member left so it was he who became temporary chairman. With Robinson gone John Martin, who earlier had resigned from the board, offered to ease the club's financial problems with a 750,000 interest free loan. But the offer was conditional on the Warriors staying in Wigan and rejecting a temporary move to Bolton. He made the offer to bide the club time to negotiate a deal to move to proposed Robin Park stadium with Wigan Athletic on a permanent basis."

It was finally announced on October 29th 1997 that Wigan would not be moving to the Reebok Stadium. Mike Nolan, who owned finance and car leasing businesses in Wigan, took over as chairman of the club from Arthur Thomas. He was joined on the board by John Martin who returned after his row with the old regime. Tesco agreed to let the Warriors stay on at Central Park until the end of 1999, when they would then join up with Wigan Athletic at there new stadium which was about to be built Robin Park.


A packed view of the Central Park Kop from the Popular Side.


Looking from the Kop to the Douglas Stand.

Central Park - "Farewell Sunday"

The Old Central Park Electronic Scoreboard which was moved to the corner of the Popular side when the new Billy Boston Stand opened in 1991.

So having been sold to Tesco in March 1997 Wigan had just two seasons left at Central Park. The final game at the ground on Sunday 5th September 1999 would fittingly see local rivals St Helens the visitors. The club wanted the game to kick off at the traditional Sunday 3pm start but Sky Television made it a 4pm kick off.

The capacity 18,179 crowd witnessed a parade of immortals before kick-off which included many Wigan legends.

As the match began it was Jason Robinson who set the tone for a pulsating encounter by sprinting out of his own 10-metre area after gathering a grubber kick from Tommy Martyn to create a fourth-minute try for Denis Betts.

The game, played in a wonderful carnival atmosphere in temperatures soaring into the 80s, never dropped below the intensity of a Cup final and St Helens, who badly needed the points to secure second place in Super League, played their part to the full.

Martyn had earlier opened the scoring with a third-minute penalty and the visitors drew level when substitute Vila Matautia scooped the ball out of a melee of players close to the Wigan line for Paul Sculthorpe, playing out of position at stand-off, to touch down.

But Wigan seized temporary control with two more tremendous tries in the space of five minutes, Andy Farrell catching the Saints defence napping with a quickly-taken tap that brought a score for Gary Connolly and Robinson bringing the capacity crowd to its feet with a spectacular 65-metre try after wriggling free from acting half-back.

Farrell's second conversion made it 16-6 but, as the action flowed from end to end at breakneck speed, Saints hit back when Martyn and the ever-dangerous Paul Newlove combined to get Anthony Sullivan over at the corner four minutes before the break.

Wigan Fans in the Popular Stand during Last Game at Central Park -September 1999

Wigan had a couple of chances early in the second half, with Connolly having a try ruled out for a forward pass and full-back Kris Radlinski narrowly failing to collect a slide-rule kick from Gavin Clinch.

But Saints drew level once more on 57 minutes when prop Apollo Perelini found a rare chink in the Wigan armoury and burst through to send centre Kevin Iro racing in at the corner.

It was former Wigan favourite Iro who scored the match-winning try in Saints' 14-12 win over Wigan on Good Friday but that man Robinson ensured there was to be no repeat when he came up with another piece of pure magic.

Farrell broke from a scrum 40 metres out and Robinson took an inside ball to again demonstrate electrifying pace to grab his second try.

Farrell added the goal and attempted to put the result beyond doubt with a failed drop goal but Wigan added a fifth try when substitute Simon Haughton got into his blockbusting stride and sent centre Paul Johnson over five minutes from the end.

Paul Johnson looked to have etched his name in history with Central Park's last ever try but that honour would go to a hate figure amongst Wigan fans. Tommy Martyn, so often a thorn in Wigan's side, score Central Parks last ever try but it could diminish a wonderful occasion for Wigan, whose players stayed on the pitch at the end to soak up the unique atmosphere for the last time and receive the adulation of the jubilant fans.

Aerial Shot of Central Park. This was published by the Wigan Observer having been taken shortly before the end of the last ever game at the old ground - Wigan v St Helens on "Farewell Sunday" 5th September 1999.

Players Lap of Honour during Last Match at Central Park - September 1999

View from the open corner of the Kop/Popular Stand - September 1999

Other Pictures

The old Central Park Pavilion Pavilion after renovation renamed the Whitbread stand then Billy Boston Stand

The Billy Boston stand from the outside car park complete with missing letter that wasn't replaced for years!

Looking at the Popular Stand/Side of Central Park from the Kop.

Looking from the Whitbread Stand to the Popular side and Kop.

The Snow hits Central Park.

A Lucky Generation of Wigan fans got a Wembley homecoming 9 Times between 1985 and 1995.

Another view from the 1995 Wembley Homecoming after defeating Leeds - Sunday 30th April

Red Rose Radio DJ Paul Booth (http://www.paulboothmc.co.uk) rouses the crowd at the 1995 Wembley Homecoming.

At nearly every match some cheapskate "fans" were always seen watching the match from outside the ground by the River Douglas on Central Park Way. This is the view they got.

......and here's the evidence! The DSS Stand as it was called! (DSS used to give out the unemployed giros!)

After the final game club owner Dave Whelan handed over the keys to Tesco the week after the final match, and the demolition of the famous old ground was started and now a Tesco Supermarket is open on the site.

Central Park during demolition in late 1999.

Left: The sculpture which sits in Tesco's Car Park to commemorate our time there, but it has proved unpopular with fans.
Right: How Central Park looks today. A Tesco Supermarket. The theme shop nearby on Hilton Street remained in place until being finally closed in 2010 when a new club shop opened in the town's Grand Arcade.

Important matches played at Central Park

Test Matches

Date Match Att
1926-1927 Great Britain 28 New Zealand 20 14,500
1956-1957 Great Britain 21 Australia 10 22,473
1957-1958 Great Britain 44 France 15 19,152
1959-1960 Great Britain 18 Australia 12 26,089
1961-1962 Great Britain 15 France 20 17,277
1962-1963 Great Britain 42 France 4 19,487
1965-1966 Great Britain 9 New Zealand 9 7,919
1965-1966 Great Britain 4 France 8 14,004
1966-1967 Great Britain 13 France 23 7,448
1973-1974 Great Britain 29 France 0 10,105
1978-1979 Great Britain 9 Australia 15 17,644
1980-1981 Great Britain 14 New Zealand 14 7,031
1982-1983 Great Britain 6 Australia 27 23,216
1985-1986 Great Britain 25 New Zealand 8 15,506
1985-1986 Great Britain 24 France 10 8,112
1986-1987 Great Britain 15 Australia 24 20,169
1988-1989 Great Britain 26 France 10 8,266
1989-1990 Great Britain 10 New Zealand 6 20,346

World Cup Matches

Date Match Att
1960 Australia 13 France 12 20,278
1960 New Zealand 9 France 0 2,876
1970 Australia 47 New Zealand 11 9,586
1975 England 16 Australia 13 9,393
1995 England 46 Fiji 0 26,263

Full International Matches

Date Match Att
1903-1904 England 3 Other Nations 9 6,000
1905-1906 England 3 Other Nations 3 8,000
1907-1908 England 18 New Zealand 16 10,000
1922-1923 England 2 Wales 13 12,000
1925-1926 England 18 Wales 14 12,000
1927-1928 England 20 Wales 12 12,000
1942-1943 England 15 Wales 9 17,000
1943-1944 England 9 Wales 9 16,028
1944-1945 England 18 Wales 8 23,500

European Championships

Date Match Att
1947-1948 England 8 Wales 10 27,000
1948-1949 England 11 Wales 5 12,638
1949-1950 England 11 Wales 6 27,500
1950-1951 England 10 Other Nations 35 16,860
1951-1952 England 31 Other Nations 18 19,785
1952-1953 England 19 Wales 8 13,503
1953-1954 England 30 Other Nations 22 19,012
1955-1956 England 16 Other Nations 33 18,232
1969-1970 England 11 France 11 4,568

Tour Matches

Date Match Att
9 Nov 1907 Wigan 12 New Zealand 8

-

9 Jan 1909 Wigan 10 Australia 7 4,000
20 Jan 1909 Wigan 16 Australia 8 8,000
28 Oct 1911 Wigan 7 Australia 2 25,000
15 Oct 1921 Wigan 6 Australia 14 24,308
11 Dec 1926 Wigan 36 New Zealand 15

-

28 Dec 1929 Wigan 9 Australia 10 8,000
23 Sep 1933 Wigan 4 Australia 10 15,712
10 Mar 1934 Wigan 30 France 27

-

3 Nov 1937 Wigan 23 Australia 25 9,800
22 Oct 1947 Wigan 8 New Zealand 10

-

20 Oct 1948 Wigan 16 Australia 11 28,554
26 Aug 1950 Wigan 4 Italy 28

-

3 Nov 1951 Wigan 8 New Zealand 15

-

24 Sep 1952 Wigan 13 Australia 23 16,223
24 Sep 1955 Wigan 17 New Zealand 15

-

8 Dec 1956 Wigan 4 Australia 32 15,854
14 Nov 1959 Wigan 16 Australia 9 24,466
7 Oct 1961 Wigan 28 New Zealand 6

-

18 Nov 1963 Wigan 10 Australia 18 11,746
4 Sep 1965 Wigan 12 New Zealand 17

-

13 Oct 1967 Wigan 12 Australia 6 22,770
10 Oct 1971 Wigan 10 New Zealand 24

-

17 Nov 1972 Wigan 18 Australian XIII 28

-

8 Nov 1978 Wigan 2 Australia 28 10,645
13 Oct 1982 Wigan 9 Australia 13 12,158
23 Oct 1983 Wigan 2 Queensland 40

-

6 Oct 1985 Wigan 14 New Zealand 8

-

12 Oct 1986 Wigan 18 Australia 26 30,622
8 Nov 1987 Wigan 6 Auckland 10

-

14 Oct 1990 Wigan 6 Australia 34 25,101
10 Oct 1993 Wigan 18 New Zealand 25 13,669
8 Oct 1994 Wigan 20 Australia 30 20,057

Other Tour Matches

Date Match Att
1911 Northern League 12 Australia 20 2,000
1929 Northern League 18 Australia 5 9,987

Lancashire Roses Matches

Date Match Att
1909 Lancashire 19 Australia 14 4,000
1910 Lancashire 17 Yorkshire 3 2,000
1947 Lancashire 22 Yorkshire 10 6,270
1948 Lancashire 13 Australia 8 11,788
1963 Lancashire 13 Australia 11 15,068
1975 Lancashire 7 Yorkshire 17 700
1985 Lancashire 26 Yorkshire 10 6,743
1987 Lancashire 10 Yorkshire 16 9,748
1989 Lancashire 12 Yorkshire 56 10,182

Challenge Cup Finals

Date Match Att
1926-1927 Oldham 26 Swinton 7 33,448
1927-1928 Swinton 5 Warrington 3 33,909
1931-1932 Leeds 11 Swinton 8 29,000
1943-1944 Wigan 3 Bradford 0* 21,500

*First Leg of two-legged Wartime Final

Championship Play Off Finals

Date Match Att
1930-1931 Swinton 14 Leeds 7 31,000
1932-1933 Salford 15 Swinton 5 18,000
1934-1935 Swinton 14 Warrington 3 27,700
1936-1937 Salford 13 Warrington 11 31,500
1940-1941 Bradford 17 Wigan 6* 11,245
1943-1944 Wigan 13 Dewsbury 9* 14,000

*First Legs of War Emergency League Finals

Lancashire Cup Finals

Date Match Att
1906-1907 Broughton 15 Warrington 6 14,048
1923-1924 St Helens Recs 17 Swinton 0 25,656
1929-1930 Warrington 15 Salford 2 27,700
1932-1933 Warrington 10 St Helens 9 28,500
1937-1938 Warrington 8 Barrow 4 14,000
1955-1956 Leigh 26 Widnes 9 26,507
1956-1957 Oldham 10 St Helens 3 39,544
1959-1960 Warrington 5 St Helens 4 39,237
1960-1961 St Helens 15 Swinton 9 31,755
1961-1962 St Helens 25 Swinton 9 30,000
1964-1965 St Helens 7 Swinton 4 23,523
1967-1968 St Helens 2 Warrington 2 16,897
1969-1970 Swinton 11 Leigh 2 13,532
1974-1975 Widnes 6 Salford 2 7,403
1975-1976 Widnes 16 Salford 7 7,566
1976-1977 Widnes 16 Workington 11 8,498
1978-1979 Widnes 15 Workington 13 10,020
1981-1982 Leigh 8 Widnes 3 9,011
1982-1983 Warrington 16 St Helens 0 6,462
1983-1984 Barrow 12 Widnes 8 7,007
1984-1985 St Helens 26 Wigan 18 26,074

BBC2 Floodlit Trophy Finals

Date Match Att
1968-1969 Wigan 7 St Helens 4 13,479
1969-1970 Leigh 11 Wigan 6 12,312
1972-1973 Leigh 5 Widnes 0 4,691

League Cup (John Player/Regal) Trophy Finals

Date Match Att
1973-1974 Warrington 27 Rochdale 16 9,347
1980-1981 Warrington 12 Barrow 5 12,820
1983-1984 Leeds 18 Widnes 10 9,536
1987-1988 St Helens 15 Leeds 14 16,669

Club Championship Final

Date Match Att
1973-1974 Warrington 13 St Helens 12 18,040

Premiership Trophy Final

Date Match Att
1974-1975 Leeds 26 St Helens 11 14,531

Western Division Regional Play Offs

Date Match Att
1962-1963 Workington 9 Widnes 9 13,588
1962-1963 Replay: Workington 10 Widnes 0 7,584
1963-1964 St Helens 10 Swinton 7 17,363

Central Park Fan Memories

Selected quotes from message board thread - Click Here
JGMAC "Queing down the side of the Duggie for cup final tickets, spent hours there. Then you had to go up the stairs and into the offices and all the tickets were spread on a table for you to choose from. Happy days."
Mother Feka "I remember sitting on the wall with my legs dangling over once and I fell off and Gary Connolly came over, picked me up and put me back on "
Danny_Robbo "(After the) last game versus saints. We tore all sorts of memorabilia down to take away with us. 4 of us were carrying a massive 'Central Park' sign up towards O'Neills pub where I worked at the time. The police came past us and said "We're going to do a lap of the block and come back. If we see you still standing here with that sign we'll do you for vandalism'. We, of course, were legless so we just stood there grinning. The police came back and just shook their heads laughing. We sold the sign to a bloke who'd come up to the game from Wales and he took it back on the train. I think we charged him 4 quid as that would be 2 pints and there were only two of us left in the pub and we knew we were far to drunk to carry the bloody thing home."
NickyKiss (not the Nicky Kiss - a message board user called NickyKiss) "I remember a game in the very early nineties against Saints when there were 30,000 on and i was with my Dad. I'd never seen it that full before and was awe struck. Me and my dad made it to the kop end were we always stood and it was jam packed with Saints fans. I ended up getting separated from my dad by about 10 rows of people and being only about 8 or 9 was cacking myself but it was probably the best time I ever had watching us. They were great blokes and made sure i was allright during the game (even though we beat them Smile ) and that i got back to my dad. The last game was so special aswell. The atmosphere was like nothig i'd heard before. I remember being wet through from everyone throwing there pints up everytime we scored a try. Also remember sitting around singing for about 2 hours after the game had finished. It was sad but a great way to finish things."
MK Warrior "Another good memory was the last few years at CP when I was on crutches due to due ongoing knee ligament and cartilage damage. Each game I would be quite drunk and easily lose my balance so the steward at the back of the Popular Stand (Dave Whittle's dad i think) used to lift me on the wall outside the bar and keep me up there for the game. The only bad thing was when the hooter sounded it went right down my ear!"
Jayd "My biggest memory is watching the Australian Series, Canterbury, Canberra, and Brisbane in 97? Went to all three, got the programs and the flag. Amazing atmosphere. Even had a Brisbane fan ask would I hold his flag for him, cheeky git! Used to stand where the bins now are on Tesco Sad."
BoltonLion "I'll always remember the 7's competition they used to hold before the start of a season!! They were fantastic days!!"
BeerMonster "Sunday afternoon games, watching the Academy team rip the opposition to pieces before the start of the main event. It was the way the atmosphere would build up from about 2 dozen speccies at the beginning."
Hoofer "Watching Billy Boston score tries in the early 60's: there always seemed to be half a dozen blokes lying dazed on the floor after trying to stop him

Watching the hopeless teams of the 70's with the odd real hero like George Fairbairn

As a kid taking a bugle with me (I couldn't play it) when Wigan beat the Aussies 12-6 in 1967 and wondering why the entire crowd had moved as far away as they could get"
warriorsince83 "Being crammed in like sardines when we played Australia and again when we played in the first world club challenge"
pantherman "the World Club Championship in October 1987 against Manly. 38,000 crammed into CP and no room to move. I went with my dad and granddad, midway through the 2nd half I needed to got to the luxury toilet facilities, a monster of a guy in front of me turned round and said "now then lad, were does tha think you're gooin?", to the toilet I replied, "not a bloody chance, tha will have to go were thee stand". I looked at my granddad who just shrugged his shoulders at me. Needless to say the guy in front of me wasn't too impressed with me when he felt his wet leg Laughing Oh happy memories"
twosevenzero "Paying 6d to go in the "hen pen", the smell of wintergreen when the players ran out of the tunnel, steam rising off the forwards when they packed down for a scrum ( the winter years ),Bostons tries,the power of McTigue,Barton,Collier later Tuigamala,Platt and Skerrett,the shear guts and determination of Fairbairn, Bell, Farrell and Edwards, the speed of Offiah, Gill, Lake and Ferguson, the wizadry of Gregory, Bolton, Miles and Kenny, Australian touring sides in dark blue shorts !,seeing the floodlights in the distance whilst walking to the ground for night games, going in through the turnstiles at the Kop end and using the wall as an unofficial toilet ( I even saw women using it when a big crowd was on ),plants growing out of the roof of the Kop,god I could go on forever,I miss the place now as much as ever,no other rugby ground had the same atmosphere as Central Park and none ever will."
Neil In Wigan "Favourite moments are the 42-36 win over Bradford when Edwards scored four tries and still had time to get sin binned for fighting with Graeme Bradley, the last game obviously, standing with two Halifax fans when we beat them 22-21 in the last minute after being behind all game with a last minute penalty, and the lads couldn't even watch it they were so nervous, beating Oldham 44-16 and the team getting booed off because the fans thought they weren't trying Laughing , and the game against Saints when we won the Championship and Henry Paul scored from his own drop out. One last memory was walking around the outside of the ground a couple of days after the last game with the ground silent, thinking that I'd never get to go in there again. I've never been near it since."
Darryl Powell in disguise (St Helens Fan) "Have to say I used to love derby day at Central Park - even though we were usually on the end of a hiding! The atmosphere in the kop on those occasions was something to behold - None better I think than in the '93 8-8 game.

We also had a few humdinging Semi Finals there and won our one and only JP trophy at CP in '88 so the memories - thankfully - weren't always of defeats!

The North Stand (at the JJB Stadium) on derby day is good, But it's not the Kop and never will be."
Abe Frohman "1985 when Brett Kenny kicked for the corner and the ball was collected by Phil Ford (who was at least 5 yards offside when he caught it) in one of our last league games of the season (v Hull KR). I nearly burst a blood vessel with cheering that try.

We all thought we would win the league that year (for the first time in decades) but it wasnt to be."
Abe Frohman "The burger van fire during the (1983) 40-2 defeat v Queensland."
Rogues Gallery "As a youngster sat on the ringside and Boston sliding in to score in the corner and seeing my mam jump on his back.

Again from my ringside seat, a scrum and McTigue was packing down for Wigan just in front of me.. All I heard was whoosh. The pack broke up and there was one of the opposition pack laying flat out and Mac running to get into position.

On the Duggie side a cup game v Leeds and Wigan losing 11 - 9 with two minutes to go.
Mick Sullivan scored in the coner and Griffiths kicked the goal from the touchline to give Wigan a 14 - 11 win.

1965 on the Kop.
Wigan v Saints in the cup. McTigues brilliant slight of hand to send Roy Evans 40 yards under the post at the Kop end.
"
the real viking warrior "went with my dad to the game against Bradford to officially open the floodlights, there was somewhere in the region of 36,000 people on the ground for a friendly. another great day out was the annual pre-season sevens competition. bu the best memory for me was the championship decider against Widnes when we lost, which was a lock out and it was an evening game to boot! "
Jimmy Birts Lives On "many of us used to take great delight in launching ale all over the Popular Side press pack."
Meyt N Prater Pie "One thing I remember is asking the local plod for rugby cards which they'd always dish out if yer asked em Smile
When I was about 8 we started to stand under the scoreboard and had to use the awful urinals behind the pop at half time which were pitch black absolutely hummed Laughing
When I was about 13 I began to stand under the pop where the best atmosphere was and singers, those were my last days watching Wigan at CP Crying or Very sad"
TPNsaint (St Helens Fan) "The game on 27th December 1987 sticks in my mind. Wigan up 22-6 at half time and Saints managing to scrape it back somehow to win 32-22. The game was full of excitement but you definately couldn't have got the atmosphere at any other ground I have ever visited. Fantastic!!"
wigan_rlfc "The people who got to watch the game for free from the bridge (although I don't think they got to see many tries). "
Yicker "super kel against featherstone. going to sully's bar and coming out the wrong side which resulted in half an hour of trying to get through the crowd. drinks in the griffin. lydon last one out for warm up due to having a smoke. very cold knees on boxing day"
Nikos "how come A.N. Other never plays any more? - was a regular at central park"
Farmoorlad "I remember a match in the late 60's when we were playing like a bunch of tarts and the crowd were booing and very restless - when all of a sudden there was a massive crack of thunder and this guy shouts out from the back of the Popular Side " And that's what he thinks of it as well"."
Memony "Watching Miles and Offiah, a partnership made in heaven, the best ever imho. People camping out down the Dougy for Wembley tickets."
Irish Saints (St Helens Fan) "The memory I will always take with me was the 8-8 draw many many years ago (Good Friday 1993) when we hit the bar with a drop goal attempt with minutes to go......

There must have been 30+ thousand in the ground on a really sunny day.

The atmosphere was tremendous........

It was on days like these that we knew as saints and Wigan fans that OUR derby was and still is the biggest and best in the game"
martinbuckley "My favourite memory doesn't involve a try. Around 1982, a band called Kajagoogoo had a No 1 hit with "Too Shy". The lead singer, Limahl, was from Wigan and was introduced to the crowd at half time, presumably for a round of applause.

Some local however took exception to his spikey blond locks Razz and threw a pie at him, and he didn't miss!"
Mr Frisk "The Prize that evertone wants (uncle joes mintballs)."
Shameless "Turning up for the Wigan Sevens in the hot sun one year. Had a bag with a watermelon, two cans of coke, some snacks and a knife (for cutting the melon). They took the cans off us and left the knife!!!"
Chazzwozza "Watching Wigan lift their first Championship in years in 1986-87 season. They put on a Rugby League masterclass that day, winning 62-7 or there abouts.
Watching Martin Offiah score 10 tries against Leeds in 1992."
nohalfbacks "remember a Wigan fixture against Bradford in the eighties. I think it was in Feb and might have been a Challenge cup tie. I can't quite remember. It was frosty but Wigan had recently installed undersoil heating and so I was convinced the game would be on. I remember approaching Central Park at the kop end turnstiles and there wasn't a soul around. As I approached the ground the gates were open and so I walked onto the kop wondering what was going on. There was nobody on the ground! It was a weird experience. I must have been the only person in Wigan who hadn't heard that the game had been cancelled. Although the pitch was ok, the game had been cancelled because of safety on the terraces. Was I the only one who hadn't heard that it had been postponed?."
nohalfbacks "My favourite memory of CP is described in Jason Robinson's book. He talks about the time in 1994, I think, after the Challenge cup final when Jason and Neil Cowie didn't get picked. In frustration Neil head butted the wall in the changing rooms. His head went through the studded wall and he got his ears stuck. I wish someone had taken a photograph."
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