Central Park (Wigan)

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Central Park
Home of Rugby League
Central park kop.jpg
Full name Central Park
Location Wigan, England
Coordinates 53°33′1.5″N 2°37′33″W / 53.550417°N 2.62583°W / 53.550417; -2.62583Coordinates: 53°33′1.5″N 2°37′33″W / 53.550417°N 2.62583°W / 53.550417; -2.62583
Capacity 18,000
Record attendance 47,747 vs St Helens 27 March 1959
Surface Grass
Construction
Built 1902
Opened 1902
Closed 1999
Demolished 1999
Tenants
Wigan RLFC (1902–1999)

Central Park was a rugby league stadium in Wigan, England, which was the home of Wigan RLFC before the club moved to the JJB Stadium in 1999. Its final capacity was 18,000. The site is now a Tesco supermarket car park.

History[edit]

On 6 September 1902, Wigan played at Central Park for the first time in the opening match of the newly formed First Division. An estimated crowd of 9,000 spectators saw Wigan beat Batley 14–8.

The first rugby league international was played between England and Other Nationalities at Central Park on 5 April 1904, Other Nationalities won 9-3 in the experimental Loose forward-less 12-a-side game, with Wigan players David "Dai" Harris, and Eli Davies in the Other Nationalities team.

The visit of St. Helens on 27 March 1959 produced Central Park's record attendance of 47,747, and set a record for a rugby league regular season league game in Britain. Wigan won the game 19–14, holding off a Saints' comeback after having led 14–0.

Floodlights were installed on 120 ft high pylons in summer 1967 so that the club could play in the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy.

On 7 October 1987, Central Park was the first English venue used for the World Club Challenge (WCC) between the English champions and the Winfield Cup premiers from Australia. The 1987 World Club Challenge between Wigan and Manly-Warringah saw the home side run out 8-2 winners in a try-less game in front of 36,895, though many who were there believe the attendance was closer to 50,000 on the night, far exceeding the 36,000 capacity of the ground at the time. The game was marred by several all-in brawls, while Manly captain Paul Vautin was almost pushed over the fence and into the crowd by a group of Wigan players who had tackled him into touch, the incident sparking another all-in. Manly fullback Dale Shearer and second-rower Ron Gibbs were the main villains of the parochial Wigan crowd. Gibbs became the first player to be sent off in a WCC after hitting Wigan centre Joe Lydon with an elbow to the head after Lydon attempted a field goal, while later in the game Shearer appeared to step on the head of Lydon while getting up from a tackle.

Despite the ugly on-field play, the success of the match and its high attendance saw the World Club Challenge made into an annual event between the English and Australian champions starting in 1989.

A week after the 1992 Rugby League World Cup Final (WCF) at Wembley Stadium which saw Australia defeat Great Britain 10-6, Central Park hosted the 1992 World Club Challenge between Wigan and the Brisbane Broncos. With twelve players who played in the WCF playing the challenge (5 from Wigan, 7 from Brisbane), the Broncos became the first Australian side to win the challenge in England with a 22-8 victory in front of 17,764 fans. Wigan would get their revenge just two years later when they defeated the Broncos 20-14 in the 1994 World Club Challenge played in front of a WCC record attendance of 54,220 at the ANZ Stadium in Brisbane. Showing the loyalty of the clubs fans, several thousand travelled to Brisbane to support the team, the win seeing Wigan become the first English team to win the Challenge on Australian soil.

In January 1997 the club's shareholders approved a deal in which the stadium would be sold to Wigan Athletic's owner Dave Whelan and be redeveloped to provide a new home for both the football and rugby teams. Two months later however, the Warriors' chairman Jack Robinson accepted a rival bid from Tesco, pointing out that the supermarket's offer was three times bigger than Whelan's.[1]

The final game at Central Park was on Sunday 5 September 1999. Wigan beat St Helens by 28 points to 20, 96 years and 364 days after the first game against Batley was played. The Central Park site later became a car park for a Tesco supermarket.

Rugby League Test Matches[edit]

List of rugby league test matches played at Central Park.[2]

Test# Date Result Attendance Notes
1 5 April 1904 Other Nationalities def.  England 9–3 6,000
2 1 January 1906  England drew with Other Nationalities 3–3 8,000
3 7 February 1923  Wales def.  England 13–2 12,000
4 30 September 1925  England def.  Wales 18–14 12,000
5 2 October 1926 United Kingdom England def.  New Zealand 28–20 14,500 1926–27 England vs New Zealand series
6 11 January 1928  England def.  Wales 20–12 12,000
7 27 February 1943  England def.  Wales 15–9 17,000
8 26 February 1944  England drew with  Wales 9–9 16,028
9 10 March 1945  England def.  Wales 23–8 23,500
10 20 September 1947  Wales def.  England 10–8 27,000 1947–48 European Rugby League Championship
11 22 September 1948  England def.  Wales 11–5 12,638 1948–49 European Rugby League Championship
12 1 March 1950  England def.  Wales 11–6 27,500 1949–50 European Rugby League Championship
13 11 April 1951 Other Nationalities def.  England 25–10 17,000 1950–51 European Rugby League Championship
14 23 April 1952  England def. Other Nationalities 31–18 20,000 1951–52 European Rugby League Championship
15 17 September 1952  England def.  Wales 19–8 13,503 1952–53 European Rugby League Championship
16 28 November 1953  England def. Other Nationalities 30–22 19,000 1953–54 European Rugby League Championship
17 12 September 1955  England def. Other Nationalities 33–16 18,234 1955–56 European Rugby League Championship
18 17 November 1956  Great Britain def.  Australia 21–10 22,473 1956 Ashes series
19 23 November 1957  England def.  France 44–15 19,152
20 12 December 1959  Great Britain def.  Australia 18–12 26,089 1959 Ashes series
21 24 September 1960  Australia def.  France 13–12 20,278 1960 Rugby League World Cup
22 8 October 1960  New Zealand def.  France 9–0 2,876
23 17 February 1962  France def.  Great Britain 20–15 17,277
24 3 April 1963  Great Britain def.  France 42–4 19,487
25 6 November 1965  Great Britain drew with  New Zealand 9–9 7,919 1965 Great Britain vs New Zealand series
26 5 March 1966  France def.  Great Britain 8–4 14,004
27 4 March 1967  France def.  Great Britain 23–13 7,448
28 25 October 1969  England drew with  France 11–11 4,568 1969–70 European Rugby League Championship
29 21 October 1970  Australia def.  New Zealand 47–11 9,805 1970 Rugby League World Cup group stage
30 17 February 1974  Great Britain def.  France 29–0 9,108
31 1 November 1975  England def.  Australia 16–13 9,393 1975 Rugby League World Cup
32 21 October 1978  Australia def.  Great Britain 15–9 17,644 1978 Ashes series
33 18 October 1980  Great Britain drew with  New Zealand 14–14 7,031 1980 Great Britain vs New Zealand series
34 20 November 1982  Australia def.  Great Britain 27–6 23,126 1982 Ashes series
35 2 November 1985  Great Britain def.  New Zealand 25–8 15,506 1985 Great Britain vs New Zealand series
36 1 March 1986  Great Britain def.  France 24–10 8,112
37 22 November 1986  Australia def.  Great Britain 24–15 20,169 1986 Ashes series
1985–1988 Rugby League World Cup
38 24 October 1987  Great Britain def.  Papua New Guinea 42–0 9,121 1985–1988 Rugby League World Cup
39 21 January 1989  Great Britain def.  France 26–10 8,266
40 11 November 1989  Great Britain def.  New Zealand 10–6 20,346 1989 Great Britain vs New Zealand series
1989–1992 Rugby League World Cup
41 9 November 1991  Great Britain def.  Papua New Guinea 56–4 4,193 1989–1992 Rugby League World Cup
42 30 October 1993  Great Britain def.  New Zealand 29–12 16,502 1993 Great Britain vs New Zealand series
43 11 October 1995  England def.  Fiji 46–0 26,263 1995 Rugby League World Cup Group A

Rugby League Tour Matches[edit]

Other than Wigan club games and test matches, Central Park was also a regular host to various international touring teams from 1907–1994.

game Date Result Attendance Notes
1 9 November 1907 Wigancolours.svg Wigan def. New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg New Zealand 12–8 30,000 1907–08 All Golds tour
2 11 January 1908 England colours.svg England XIII def. New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg New Zealand 18–16 12,000
3 25 November 1908 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Lancashire Lancashire 20–6 4,000 1908–09 Kangaroo Tour
4 9 January 1909 Wigancolours.svg Wigan def. Australian colours.svg Australia 10–7 4,000
5 20 January 1909 Wigancolours.svg Wigan def. Australian colours.svg Australia 16–8 9,100
6 28 October 1911 Wigancolours.svg Wigan def. Australian colours.svg Australasia 7–2 25,000 1911–12 Kangaroo Tour
7 31 January 1912 Australian colours.svg Australasia def. England colours.svg Northern Union XIII 20–12 2,000
8 15 October 1921 Australian colours.svg Australasia def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 14–6 24,308 1921–22 Kangaroo Tour
9 3 December 1929 England colours.svg Northern Union XIII def. Australian colours.svg Australasia 18–5 9,987 1929–30 Kangaroo Tour
10 28 December 1929 Australian colours.svg Australasia def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 10–9 8,000
11 23 September 1933 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 10–4 15,712 1933–34 Kangaroo Tour
12 6 March 1934 Wigancolours.svg Wigan def. France colours.svg France 30–27 8,000 1934 French rugby league tour
13 3 November 1937 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 25–23 9,800 1937–38 Kangaroo Tour
14 20 October 1948 Wigancolours.svg Wigan def. Australian colours.svg Australia 16–11 28,554 1948–49 Kangaroo Tour
15 8 December 1948 Lancashire Lancashire def. Australian colours.svg Australia 13–8 11,788
16 26 August 1950 Wigancolours.svg Wigan def. Italy colours.svg Italy 49–28
17 24 September 1952 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 23–13 16,223 1952–53 Kangaroo Tour
18 8 December 1956 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 32–4 15,854 1956–57 Kangaroo Tour
19 14 November 1959 Wigancolours.svg Wigan def. Australian colours.svg Australia 16–9 24,466 1959–60 Kangaroo Tour
20 25 September 1963 Lancashire Lancashire def. Australian colours.svg Australia 13–11 15,068 1963–64 Kangaroo Tour
21 18 November 1963 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 32–4 11,746
22 13 October 1967 Wigancolours.svg Wigan def. Australian colours.svg Australia 12–6 22,770 1967–68 Kangaroo Tour
23 17 November 1972 Wigancolours.svg Wigan drew with Australian colours.svg Australia 18–18 6,000 1972 Australian Rugby League World Cup tour
24 18 November 1978 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 28–2 10,645 1978 Kangaroo Tour
25 13 October 1982 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 13–9 12,158 1982 Kangaroo Tour
26 23 October 1983 Queensland colours.svg Queensland def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 40–2 9,749 1983 Queensland Maroons tour
27 6 October 1985 Wigancolours.svg Wigan def. New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg New Zealand 14–8 1985 New Zealand Kiwis tour
28 12 October 1986 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 26–18 30,622 1986 Kangaroo Tour
29 14 October 1990 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 34–6 24,814 1990 Kangaroo Tour
30 10 October 1993 New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg New Zealand def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 25–18 1993 New Zealand Kiwis tour
31 8 October 1994 Australian colours.svg Australia def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 30–20 20,057 1994 Kangaroo Tour

World Club Challenge / Championship[edit]

Central Park hosted 5 World Club Challenge games between 1987–1997.

Game Date Result Attendance Year
1 7 October 1987 Wigancolours.svg Wigan def. Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 8–2 36,895 1987 World Club Challenge
2 30 October 1992 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan 22–8 17,764 1992 World Club Challenge
3 20 July 1997 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 30–4 12,816 1997 World Club Championship
4 28 July 1997 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors def. Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury Bulldogs 31–24 10,280
5 3 August 1997 Canberra colours.svg Canberra Raiders def. Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 50–10 12,504

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dave Hadfield (6 March 1997). "Rugby League: Wigan exiled by pounds 12m Central Park sale". The Independent. 
  2. ^ Shawn Dollin and Andrew Ferguson. "Central Park - Rugby League Project". 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Springfield Park
Home of Wigan RLFC 
1902 – 1999
Succeeded by
DW Stadium
Preceded by
AustraliaSydney Cricket Ground
Host of the World Club Challenge 
1987
Succeeded by
EnglandOld Trafford
Preceded by
EnglandAnfield
Host of the World Club Challenge 
1992
Succeeded by
AustraliaANZ Stadium