Central Park (Wigan)
|Home of Rugby League|
|Full name||Central Park|
|Record attendance||47,747 vs St Helens 27 March 1959|
|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.
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.
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
List of rugby league test matches played at Central Park.
|1||11 January 1908||England def. New Zealand 18–16|
|2||7 February 1923||Wales def. England 13–2||12,000|
|3||30 September 1925||England def. Wales 18–14||12,000|
|4||2 October 1926||Great Britain def. New Zealand 28–20||14,500|
|5||11 January 1928||England def. Wales 20–12||12,000|
|6||27 February 1943||England def. Wales 15–9||17,000|
|7||26 February 1944||England drew with Wales 9–9||16,028|
|8||10 March 1945||England def. Wales 23–8||23,500|
|9||20 September 1947||Wales def. England 10–8||27,000|
|10||22 September 1948||England def. Wales 11–5||12,638|
|11||1 March 1950||England def. Wales 11–6||27,500|
|12||17 September 1952||England def. Wales 19–8||13,503|
|13||17 November 1956||Great Britain def. Australia 21–10||22,473|
|14||23 November 1957||England def. France 44–15||19,152|
|15||12 December 1959||Great Britain def. Australia 18–12||26,089|
|16||17 February 1962||France def. Great Britain 20–15||17,277|
|17||3 April 1963||Great Britain def. France 42–4||19,487|
|18||6 November 1965||Great Britain drew with New Zealand 9–9||7,919|
|19||5 March 1966||France def. Great Britain 8–4||14,004|
|20||4 March 1967||France def. Great Britain 23–13||7,448|
|21||25 October 1969||England drew with France 11–11||4,568|
|22||17 February 1974||Great Britain def. France 29–0||9,108|
|23||21 October 1978||Australia def. Great Britain 15–9||17,644|
|24||18 October 1980||Great Britain drew with New Zealand 14–14||7,031|
|25||20 November 1982||Australia def. Great Britain 27–6||23,126|
|26||2 November 1985||Great Britain def. New Zealand 25–8||15,506|
|27||1 March 1986||Great Britain def. France 24–10||8,112|
|28||21 January 1989||Great Britain def. France 26–10||8,266|
|29||30 October 1993||Great Britain def. New Zealand 29–12||16,502|
Rugby League World Cup
|1||24 September 1960||Australia def. France 13–12||20,278|
|2||8 October 1960||New Zealand def. France 9–0||2,876|
|3||21 October 1970||Australia def. New Zealand 47–11||9,805|
|4||1 November 1975||England def. Australia 16–13||9,393|
|5||22 November 1986||Australia def. Great Britain 24–15||20,169|
|6||24 October 1987||Great Britain def. Papua New Guinea 42–0||9,121|
|7||11 November 1989||Great Britain def. New Zealand 10–6||20,346|
|8||9 November 1991||Great Britain def. Papua New Guinea 56–4||4,193|
|9||11 October 1995||England def. Fiji 46–0||26,263|
|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||11 April 1951||Other Nationalities def. England 25-10||17,000|
|4||23 April 1952||England def. Other Nationalities 31-18||20,000|
|5||28 November 1953||England def. Other Nationalities 30-22||19,000|
|6||12 September 1955||England def. Other Nationalities 33-16||18,234|
|Home of Wigan RLFC
1902 – 1999
Sydney Cricket Ground
|Host of the World Club Challenge
|Host of the World Club Challenge
- Dave Hadfield (6 March 1997). "Rugby League: Wigan exiled by pounds 12m Central Park sale". The Independent.
- Shawn Dollin and Andrew Ferguson. "Central Park - Rugby League Project".