1978–79 Wigan Athletic F.C. season

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Wigan Athletic F.C.
1978–79 season
ChairmanArthur Horrocks
ManagerIan McNeill
Football League Division Four6th
FA CupFirst Round
League CupSecond Round
Top goalscorerLeague: Peter Houghton (13)
All: Peter Houghton (14)
Highest home attendance9,427 (vs Barnsley, 3 March 1979)
Lowest home attendance4,459 (vs Scunthorpe United, 30 September 1978)

The 1978–79 season was the 41st season in the history of Wigan Athletic F.C. and their first as a professional club in the Football League. After finishing 2nd in the Northern Premier League during the previous season, the club was nominated to apply for Football League status, and were elected into the league to replace Southport. After a poor start, the club exceeded expectations in the league, and towards the end of the season, a second consecutive promotion seemed possible. The club eventually fell short, finishing the season in 6th place with a total of 55 points.

Wigan entered the FA Cup in the first round, but were knocked out by Bury following a replay. The club also entered the League Cup for the first time, winning against Tranmere Rovers before being defeated in the second round by Luton Town. The club's first signing as a member of the Football League was Ian Purdie, who along with Tommy Gore and Jeff Wright, went on to play every league game during the club's first season. Peter Houghton was the team's top goalscorer with a total of 13 league goals (14 in all competitions).

Background[edit]

In the 1977–78 season, Wigan competed in the Northern Premier League, and secured a second-place finish in the last game of the season with a 1–0 win against Matlock Town. Under normal circumstances, league winners Boston United would have applied for Football League status, but the League Management Committee had decided that their ground was not up to the required standards.[1] As a result, runners-up Wigan became the Northern Premier League's nomination to apply for Football League status.

At the time, the only way a team could be promoted into the Football League was if their application received more votes than one of the bottom four teams of the Football League in an annual election system. In practice, this process was usually a formality, and very few teams were promoted – Wigan's application to join the league had been rejected on 34 previous occasions. The vote took place on 2 June 1978.[2] In the first poll, York City, Rochdale and Hartlepool United were all re-elected, Southport and Wigan tied, and Bath City, the Southern League nomination, received the fewest votes and were eliminated. A revote took place to determine whether Southport or Wigan would be elected into the Football League. Wigan Athletic received 29 votes to Southport's 20, confirming that Wigan would replace Southport in the Fourth Division next season. It is believed that Wigan's strong performance in the FA Cup, where they reached the third round, earned them the support they needed to be elected into the Football League.[3]

Match results[edit]

Legend[edit]

Win Draw Loss

League[edit]

On 19 August 1978, Wigan Athletic played their first Football League game against Hereford United at Edgar Street, captained by the club's appearance record holder Ian Gillibrand.[4] The match finished 0–0. Their first home League game was against Grimsby Town ended with a 3–0 defeat. Wigan were awarded a penalty with the scoreline at 2–0, but was missed by Ian Purdie.[5] A defeat against Reading followed. On 2 September, in the club's fourth game of the season against Newport County, Joe Hinnigan became Wigan's first ever League goal scorer, but the team went on to lose the match 3–2. After losing 2–1 away at Wimbledon, the club's fourth consecutive defeat, Wigan found themselves at the bottom of the table.[6] The club recorded its first League victory in the next match against Rochdale, winning the match 3–0 following the dismissal of Rochdale defender Bob Scott.[7]

In October 1978, Wigan played a friendly against the Zambian national team, coached by former Latics manager Brian Tiler.

On 13 April 1979, Wigan came back to beat Port Vale 5–3 after being three goals down with 25 minutes remaining.[8]

Source:[9]

Game Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers Notes
1 19 August 1978 Hereford United Away 0–0 5,674
2 23 August 1978 Grimsby Town Home 0–3 9,227
3 26 August 1978 Reading Away 0–2 4,788
4 2 September 1978 Newport County Home 2–3 5,319 Hinnigan, Purdie
5 9 September 1978 Wimbledon Away 1–2 3,217 Corrigan
6 13 September 1978 Rochdale Home 3–0 5,746 Wright, Corrigan, Hinnigan
7 16 September 1978 Bradford City Home 1–3 7,090 Purdie
8 23 September 1978 York City Away 1–0 3,307 Gore
9 26 September 1978 Portsmouth Away 0–1 13,902
10 30 September 1978 Scunthorpe United Home 1–0 4,459 Brownbill
11 7 October 1978 Huddersfield Town Away 1–1 5,150 Brownbill
12 14 October 1978 Doncaster Rovers Home 1–0 5,788 Ward
13 18 October 1978 Halifax Town Home 1–0 5,216 Hinnigan
14 21 October 1978 Barnsley Away 0–0 9,841
15 28 October 1978 Northampton Town Home 2–0 6,264 Purdie (2, 1 pen.)
16 3 November 1978 Stockport County Away 1–0 8,357 Hinnigan
17 10 November 1978 Newport County Away 1–2 4,142 Houghton
18 18 November 1978 Reading Home 3–0 5,858 Houghton (2), Ward
19 9 December 1978 Darlington Away 1–1 1,967 Moore
20 16 December 1978 Halifax Town Away 2–1 2,437 Moore, Purdie
21 26 December 1978 Crewe Alexandra Home 1–0 7,586 Houghton
22 30 December 1978 Aldershot Home 3–2 7,289 Moore, Houghton (2)
23 9 January 1979 Port Vale Away 1–2 3,744 Wright (pen.)
24 3 February 1979 Portsmouth Home 2–0 8,289 Wright, Corrigan
25 14 February 1979 Wimbledon Home 1–2 6,704 Purdie (pen.)
26 17 February 1979 Huddersfield Town Home 2–1 7,420 Ward (2)
27 24 February 1979 Doncaster Rovers Away 1–0 4,612 Wright
28 28 February 1979 York City Home 1–1 5,896 Houghton
29 3 March 1979 Barnsley Home 1–1 9,427 Wright
30 10 March 1979 Northampton Town Away 4–2 2,275 Brownbill (2), Purdie, Corrigan
31 14 March 1979 Torquay United Home 3–1 5,722 Moore (2), Hinnigan
32 17 March 1979 Stockport County Home 2–0 7,610 Wright, Smart
33 19 March 1979 Rochdale Away 2–0 3,621 Purdie, Moore
34 24 March 1979 Grimsby Town Away 1–3 8,252 Wigginton (o.g.)
35 28 March 1979 Hereford United Home 0–0 4,876
36 31 March 1979 Bournemouth Home 1–0 5,527 Houghton
37 3 April 1979 Hartlepool United Away 1–1 2,081 Houghton
38 7 April 1979 Torquay United Away 1–1 2,969 Houghton
39 13 April 1979 Port Vale Home 5–3 8,452 Houghton (3), Brownbill, Moore
40 14 April 1979 Crewe Alexandra Away 1–1 4,604 Purdie (pen.)
41 16 April 1979 Hartlepool United Home 2–2 8,217 Wright, Purdie
42 21 April 1979 Aldershot Away 0–1 5,466
43 28 April 1979 Darlington Home 2–2 6,153 Moore, Brownbill
44 1 May 1979 Scunthorpe United Away 1–0 1,582 Gore
45 5 May 1979 Bournemouth Away 1–2 3,063 Purdie
46 7 May 1979 Bradford City Away 1–1 3,748 Moore

FA Cup[edit]

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers Notes
First 25 November 1978 Bury Home 2–2 10,142 Gore, Houghton
First (replay) 29 November 1978 Bury Away 1–4 9,339 Moore

League Cup[edit]

As a newly promoted Football League club, Wigan Athletic were also entered into the League Cup for the first time in their history, and were drawn in the First round against Third Division side Tranmere Rovers. The first leg of the tie was played at Prenton Park, and was Wigan's first competitive fixture as a League club. The match finished 1–1, with Tommy Gore scoring a late equaliser with an effort from long range.[10] Wigan progressed to the next round after winning the return leg 2–1. In the Second Round, Wigan played Luton Town of the Second Division at Kenilworth Road, but despite producing a strong performance they were ultimately defeated 2–0.

Round Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Goalscorers Notes
First (1st leg) 12 August 1978 Tranmere Rovers Away 1–1 4,902 Gore
First (2nd leg) 16 August 1978 Tranmere Rovers Home 2–1 8,512 Corrigan (2)
Wigan won 3–2 on aggregate
Second 29 August 1978 Luton Town Away 0–2 6,618

Final league table[edit]

Pos Club Pld Home Away Pts
W D L GF GA W D L GF GA
1 Reading (C) (P) 46 19 3 1 49 8 7 10 6 27 27 65
2 Grimsby Town (P) 46 15 5 3 51 23 11 4 8 31 26 61
3 Wimbledon (P) 46 18 3 2 50 20 7 8 8 28 26 61
4 Barnsley (P) 46 15 5 3 47 23 9 8 6 26 19 61
5 Aldershot 46 16 5 2 38 14 4 12 7 25 33 57
6 Wigan Athletic 46 14 5 4 40 24 7 8 8 23 24 55
7 Portsmouth 46 13 7 3 35 12 7 5 11 27 36 52
8 Newport County 46 12 5 6 39 28 9 5 9 27 27 52
9 Huddersfield Town 46 13 8 2 32 15 5 3 15 25 38 47
10 York City 46 11 6 6 33 24 7 5 11 18 31 47
11 Torquay United 46 14 4 5 38 24 5 4 14 20 41 46
12 Scunthorpe United 46 12 3 8 33 30 5 8 10 21 30 45
13 Hartlepool United 46 7 12 4 35 28 6 6 11 22 38 44
14 Hereford United 46 12 8 3 35 18 3 5 15 18 35 43
15 Bradford City 46 11 5 7 38 26 6 4 13 24 42 43
16 Port Vale 46 8 10 5 29 28 6 4 13 28 42 42
17 Stockport County 46 11 5 7 33 21 3 7 13 25 39 40
18 Bournemouth 46 11 6 6 34 19 3 5 15 13 29 39
19 Northampton Town 46 12 4 7 40 30 3 5 15 24 46 39
20 Rochdale 46 11 4 8 25 26 4 5 14 22 38 39
21 Darlington 46 8 8 7 25 21 3 7 13 24 45 37
22 Doncaster Rovers 46 8 8 7 25 22 5 3 15 25 51 37
23 Halifax Town 46 7 5 11 24 32 2 3 18 15 40 26
24 Crewe Alexandra 46 3 7 13 24 41 3 7 13 19 49 26

Player statistics[edit]

Note: Numbers in brackets are appearances as a substitute.
Source:[11]

Nat. Pos. Player Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
League FA Cup League Cup Total
England GK John Brown 42 0 2 0 3 0 47 0
England FW Derek Brownbill 20 (10) 6 0 (1) 0 0 0 20 (11) 6
England MF Frank Corrigan 45 4 2 0 3 2 50 6
England MF Alan Crompton 07 (6) 0 0 0 2 0 09 (6) 0
England DF John Curtis 09 0 0 0 0 0 09 0
England DF Neil Davids 10 (2) 0 0 0 1 (2) 0 11 (4) 0
England DF David Fretwell 33 0 2 0 0 0 35 0
England MF Geoff Gay 01 0 0 0 0 0 01 0
England DF Ian Gillibrand 07 0 0 0 3 0 10 0
England MF Tommy Gore 46 2 2 1 3 1 51 4
England GK Mark Grew 04 0 0 0 0 0 04 0
England DF Joe Hinnigan 39 5 2 0 2 0 43 5
England FW Peter Houghton 23 (3) 13 2 1 3 0 28 (3) 14
England FW Mick Moore 40 (1) 9 2 1 0 0 42 (1) 10
Scotland MF Ian Purdie 46 11 2 0 3 0 51 11
England MF Ian Seddon 01 0 0 0 1 0 02 0
England DF Kevin Smart 40 1 2 0 1 0 43 1
Northern Ireland DF Noel Ward 44 4 2 0 2 0 48 4
Scotland FW John Wilkie 03 (1) 0 0 0 3 0 06 (1) 0
England MF Micky Worswick 00 (1) 0 0 0 0 0 00 (1) 0
England MF Jeff Wright 46 7 2 0 3 0 51 7

Transfers[edit]

In[edit]

Player Pos From Fee Date
Alan Crompton MF Blackburn Rovers Summer 1978
Neil Davids DF Swansea City Summer 1978
Geoff Gay MF Southport Summer 1978
Mick Moore FW Port Vale Summer 1978
Ian Purdie MF Motherwell Summer 1978
Ian Seddon MF Rochdale Summer 1978
Kevin Smart DF Plymouth Argyle Summer 1978
Derek Brownbill FW Cleveland Cobras September 1978
Dave Fretwell DF California Sunshine October 1978

Out[edit]

Player Pos To Fee Date
Geoff Gay MF Macclesfield Town 1978
Micky Worswick FW Chorley 1978
Ian Gillibrand DF Retired End of season
John Wilkie FW Retired End of season

Loans in[edit]

Player Pos From Date Duration
Mark Grew GK West Bromwich Albion December 1978 One month
John Curtis DF Blackburn Rovers March 1979 End of season

References[edit]

General

  • Cherry, D. B. (1979). The League: At Last. D.B.C. Enterprises.
  • Wigan Athletic Football League players - A to Z[permanent dead link]
  • Wigan Athletic Results 1978 - 1979

Specific

  1. ^ Cherry. The League: At Last. p. 27.
  2. ^ Cherry. The League: At Last. p. 28.
  3. ^ Cherry. The League: At Last. p. 26.
  4. ^ Cherry. The League: At Last. p. 30.
  5. ^ Cherry. The League: At Last. p. 31.
  6. ^ Cherry. The League: At Last. p. 133.
  7. ^ "Wigan break duck". The Times. London, England. 14 September 1978. p. 8. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  8. ^ Cherry. The League: At Last. p. 68.
  9. ^ "Wigan Athletic Results 1978 - 1979". Cockney Latic. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  10. ^ Roberts, John. "It can't be said Wigan was agog . . . one woman was reading a Bagley novel". Sporting Intelligence. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  11. ^ "The English National Football Archive". Soccerdata. Retrieved 20 February 2013.