Wigan Athletic F.C.
|Full name||Wigan Athletic Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Latics, The Tics|
|2015–16||League One, 1st (promoted)|
|Website||Club home page|
Wigan Athletic Football Club (i//) is a professional association football club based in Wigan, Greater Manchester, England. The team compete in the Championship, the second tier of English football. Founded in 1932, the club have played at the DW Stadium since 1999, they previously played at Springfield Park. Their colours are blue and white, recently most often striped, although all-blue shirts have been common throughout history.
The team were elected to The Football League in 1978, and competed in the Premier League from 2005 to 2013. They won the 2012–13 FA Cup, have also won League One and League Two and are two-times winners of the Football League Trophy, along with numerous regional football competitions from their time as a non-league club. The club also made their European debut during the 2013–14 UEFA Europa League.
- 1 History
- 2 Football League History
- 3 Stadium
- 4 Supporters
- 5 Rivalries
- 6 European record
- 7 Players
- 8 Club officials
- 9 Notable former players
- 10 Managers
- 11 Honours
- 12 Records
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Local leagues 1932–1978
Wigan Athletic was formed in 1932, following the winding up of Wigan Borough the previous year. Wigan Athletic was the fifth attempt to create a stable football club in the town following the demise of Wigan County, Wigan United, Wigan Town and Wigan Borough. Springfield Park, the former home of Wigan Borough, was purchased by the club for £2,850. Despite their initial application being turned down, Wigan Athletic were elected into the Cheshire County League following the resignation of Manchester Central. The club had also made the first of many attempts to be admitted into the Football League, but failed to receive a single vote. On 27 August 1932, Wigan Athletic played their first ever league game against Port Vale Reserves. The team played in red and white shirts with black shorts.
Wigan Athletic won their first honours in the 1933–34 season, finishing as champions of the Cheshire League. In the following season, the club won a second league championship and also entered the FA Cup for the first time, defeating Carlisle United 6–1 in the first round – a cup record for the biggest victory by a non-league club over a league club. In the 1935–36 season, the club won their third consecutive Cheshire League title and the Lancashire Junior Cup.
After the Second World War, Wigan Athletic adopted their more familiar blue and white strip. The club struggled to assemble a competitive side, and finished bottom of the league in 1946–47 season. Despite their pre-war success, the club failed to gain re-election and were replaced by Winsford United. The club joined the Lancashire Combination, winning the league in their first season. In 1950, Wigan Athletic came close to election to The Football League, narrowly losing out to Scunthorpe United and Shrewsbury Town. In the 1953–54 season, Wigan played an FA Cup match against Hereford United in front of a crowd of 27,526 – a club record and also a record attendance for a match between two non-league teams at a non-league ground. In the next round of the cup, Wigan Athletic were drawn against First Division side Newcastle United. Wigan Athletic held their top flight opponents to a 2–2 draw at St James' Park, but went on to lose the replay 3–2. In 1961, the club moved back to the Cheshire League.
In the 1964–65 season, Wigan Athletic won their first Cheshire League title since returning to the league, with top goalscorer Harry Lyon scoring 66 times. He remains the club's greatest goalscorer of all time. Wigan Athletic won four cup titles in the 1966–67 season (Lancashire Floodlit Cup winners, Liverpool Non League Senior Cup winners, Northern Floodlit League winners, Northern Floodlit League Cup winners) and were also Cheshire County League runners-up.
In 1968, Wigan Athletic were founder members of the Northern Premier League. Winning the league title in 1970–71, leading goalscorer with 42 goals, including 7 hat-tricks, was Geoff Davies who scored 28 goals in the following 1971–72 season. After 34 failed election attempts, including one controversial but headline-making application in 1972 to join the Scottish League Second Division, Wigan Athletic were elected to the Football League in 1978. As a non-league club, the team played at Wembley Stadium for the first time in the 1973 FA Trophy Final, where it lost 2–1 to Scarborough.
Early league years: 1978–1995
Wigan Athletic finished in second place in the Northern Premier League in the 1977–78 season, behind winners Boston United. But as Boston's ground and facilities did not meet the Football League criteria for a League club, whereas Springfield Park did, Wigan Athletic were put forward for election to the league. There was no automatic promotion to the Football League until 1987, and at that time a club had to be 'voted out' of the League to allow a non-league team to be promoted in their place. At the end of the 1977–78 season, Southport finished next to bottom of the old Fourth Division, and faced near neighbours Wigan Athletic for their place in the League. The first round of voting was tied, with both clubs receiving 26 votes. After a tense re-vote which Wigan won 29–20, Southport lost their place in the Fourth Division and Wigan Athletic became an English League club on 2 June 1978.
In the club's first season of League football, Wigan Athletic finished in sixth place, just six points off promotion and playing in front of an average crowd of 6,701. Two more top-half finishes came in the following seasons, though a relatively weak 1980–81 season saw the dismissal of long-serving manager Ian McNeill shortly before the end of the season. They gained their first Football League promotion under the management of former Liverpool player Larry Lloyd in 1981–82, when a points tally of 91 saw them join the former Division Three for the first time, beginning a 10-year spell in English football's third tier. The club struggled in their first season in Division Three, which led to Lloyd's sacking in early 1983, at which point Bobby Charlton, a director at the time, took over as temporary manager before being replaced by Harry McNally. Under McNally's management, the club stabilised in Division Three and secured a pair of mid-table finishes, but a dreadful 1984–85 season cost him his job, with Tranmere manager Bryan Hamilton stepping into the breach. Under Hamilton's management, the club's performances went to the next level and they won their first silverware as a League club that season with the Freight Rover Trophy. They were beaten in the Northern Final of the same competition the following season by Bolton Wanderers. More importantly, Hamilton achieved Division Three survival, which had looked an impossible task earlier that season.
The 1985–86 season saw a marked improvement in the club's league form, eventually finishing in fourth position, a then-club record high which would stand for 17 years until 2002–03. Wigan Athletic finished the season just one point outside the promotion places in the final season before the Football League introduced the play-off system for promotion and relegation. However, Hamilton's feats attracted the attention of First Division Leicester City and he left to become their manager in the summer 1986. His assistant, Ray Mathias, who had followed him from Tranmere, stepped up to the Wigan Athletic manager's job. Wigan Athletic managed an identical fourth-place finish in the 1986–87 season, but this time were rewarded with the chance to compete for the final promotion place in the new play-off system. (In the first two years of the play-off system, teams finishing 3rd, 4th and 5th joined the team finishing 20th in the division above to play-off for the promotion place; this was changed to the teams finishing 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th from the 1988–89 season). The Latics lost at the two-legged semi-final stage to Swindon, who went on to win the final promotion place.
The fourth-place finishes of the 1985–86 and 1986–87 seasons proved to be the high points of Wigan Athletic's first stint in Division 3. For the next five years, they finished mid-table, flirting with relegation in 1988–89 (at which time Mathias was sacked and previous manager Bryan Hamilton returned) and 1989–90, until they were relegated for the first time in the club's League history in 1992–93. Wigan Athletic finished in 23rd place, amid tumbling attendances which had fallen from averages of 3,000–4,000 in Wigan Athletic's Division 3 years to just 2,593 in 1992–93. Hamilton resigned shortly before the club were relegated, and was replaced by Kenny Swain. A year later, with the club back in the fourth tier of the English League, the Latics finished fourth from bottom, in 19th place. While there was no relegation that season due to the lack of a promotable club in the Football Conference, this remains the club's lowest-ever finish. The following season would prove to be arguably even worse, as Swain was sacked early in the campaign following a horrific start, and former player Graham Barrow took over as manager. Despite the club being rooted to the bottom of the table until the start of December, the second half of the campaign saw a major upturn in form, and they finished well clear of the relegation zone in 15th place. Attendances fell to a lowest-ever Wigan Athletic League average of 1,845 by 1995.
Rising through the league: 1995–2005
In February 1995, local millionaire and owner of JJB Sports, Dave Whelan purchased the club. Through Whelan's business connections in Spain he attracted three Spaniards to the club – Roberto Martínez, Isidro Diaz, and Jesus Seba – who became known as 'The Three Amigos'. The trio became the on-pitch symbols of Whelan's ambitious plan to take Wigan Athletic into the Premier League. 'The Three Amigos' were joined at the club by John Deehan, who replaced Barrow as manager during the 1995–96 season following a 6–2 home defeat to Mansfield Town. Deehan took the Latics within two points of a play-off place in his first season; the club had in fact been in the final automatic promotion spot with four games remaining, but lost them all and so failed to even make the play-offs. The following year Wigan Athletic became Division Three champions on the last day of the season, Graeme Jones scoring a club record 31 league goals in the process. In most seasons they would have been runners-up, but a temporary rule change which saw goals scored take precedence over goal difference allowed them to finish above runners-up Fulham, who had the same number of points and a better goal difference.
Following a mid-table finish in Division Two the following season, Deehan quit to become Steve Bruce's assistant at Sheffield United. He was succeeded by Ray Mathias, who returned for his third stint as Wigan Athletic manager. Mathias' team won the Football League Trophy in 1999, beating Millwall 1–0 at Wembley Stadium. The same season the Latics reached the Division Two play-offs, losing 2–1 on aggregate to Manchester City. Mathias was sacked, and replaced by John Benson. He led the team to the top of Division Two in his first six months, but they were only able to qualify for the play-offs. In what was the last ever Division Two play-off final to be played at the old Wembley Stadium, Wigan lost 3–2 after extra time to Gillingham
Benson moved 'upstairs' to the new post of Director of Football in the summer of 2000, when former Arsenal manager Bruce Rioch took the manager's job for the 2000–01 season. Rioch was hampered by severe injury problems and after a difficult and often unimpressive first half of the season left the club in February 2001. He was temporarily replaced by club stalwart Colin Greenall, before the surprise appointment of Steve Bruce for the final eight games of the season. His arrival brought renewed vigour to Wigan Athletic performances, but the club ultimately lost in the play-offs again, this time against Reading, and Bruce left for Crystal Palace.
In the summer of 2001, the former Latics forward Paul Jewell took over as manager following an unsuccessful spell at Sheffield Wednesday. His first season in charge saw mixed results and an embarrassing defeat to non-league Canvey Island in the FA Cup first round, although the club eventually finished in mid-table. Jewell's second season in charge was far more successful. Wigan Athletic went on a run to the quarter finals of the League Cup, beating Premier League opponents West Brom, Manchester City and Fulham en route. Wigan Athletic won the Division Two championship in 2002–03 with a points total of 100, powered by the goals of then-record £1.2 million signing Nathan Ellington, with a run of 10 consecutive wins along the way. The club lost only four times all season, and Wigan Athletic secured promotion to the second tier of the English Football League for the first time in their history.
After losing their first ever game in Division One, Wigan Athletic confounded expectations to go unbeaten for the next 17 games and sit atop the division by November 2003. A weak finish saw Wigan Athletic win only three of their last 10 games to finish seventh in Division One – a last minute goal by West Ham's Brian Deane in the final game of the season saw the Latics drop out of the play-off places in favour of eventual play-off winners Crystal Palace.
Hoping to build on the previous season's disappointing finish, the Latics went one better than 2003–04 by remaining unbeaten for the first 17 games of the 2004–05 season. Along with Sunderland and Ipswich, the Latics remained in the promotion hunt all season. By the last day of the season, Sunderland had already won the title and Wigan needed at least a draw against Reading – who themselves needed to win to finish in sixth place – to beat Ipswich to the last automatic promotion spot. A 3–1 victory in front of their home fans at the JJB Stadium earned Wigan Athletic promotion to the top division of the English football for the first time in their 73-year history.
Premier League: 2005–2013
The club's first ever Premier League game was a sell-out at the JJB Stadium against holders Chelsea, lost 1–0 after an injury-time winner by Hernán Crespo. A successful run followed, and by November, Wigan were second in the league. Good league form was coupled with an equally strong performance in the Football League Cup, with Wigan reaching their first ever major cup final after defeating Arsenal on away goals in the semi-final. In the final, Wigan were defeated 4–0 by neighbours Manchester United. Wigan Athletic eventually finished the season in 10th place, which remains the club's highest ever league placing. Defender Pascal Chimbonda was also included in the 2005–06 PFA Team of the Season, capping off his season by being picked for the France squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
During the close season, Wigan sold many players who had starred in their first season in the Premier League, such as Jimmy Bullard, Jason Roberts, and Stéphane Henchoz, while bringing in replacements such as Emile Heskey, Denny Landzaat, Chris Kirkland and Antonio Valencia. After a mid-table start to the 2006–07 season, Wigan had eight consecutive losses from mid-December, but were 15th in early March. On the final day of the season, Wigan got a 2–1 away win against Sheffield United, which kept them up at the expense of their opponents. The following day, Paul Jewell unexpectedly resigned as manager; his assistant Chris Hutchings was appointed as his replacement.
Wigan's third Premier League campaign saw changes in the squad, with Titus Bramble, Mario Melchiot, Jason Koumas and Marcus Bent among the players brought in, and Melchiot was installed as the new club captain. The 2007–08 season began well for Wigan, with Emile Heskey recalled to the England squad, as the first Wigan player to represent England whilst a full member of the club. However, he broke his foot immediately after his England call-up, and was out injured for six weeks. The club's league position subsequently worsened, and on the back of a run of six consecutive defeats Wigan fell into the relegation zone. Whelan took the decision to sack Hutchings on 5 November 2007, after 12 games in charge, reinstating Bruce, who saved the club from relegation.
In the summer of 2008, Bruce signed Lee Cattermole from Middlesbrough for £3.5 million, and Egyptian striker Amr Zaki sign on an initial one-year loan. Zaki had scored 10 Premier League goals by February 2009, as Wigan reached seventh place in the table with 34 points from 25 games. January saw the departure of two key first team members, Wilson Palacios and Emile Heskey, to Tottenham and Aston Villa respectively. Despite these changes, Wigan finished the season in 11th place with 45 points, their second-best finish ever in the Premier League. On 3 June, Bruce left Wigan for the second time to take over the vacant manager position at Sunderland. July saw the departure of another key first team member Antonio Valencia to Manchester United. Before the 2009–10 season got underway, Cattermole left for Sunderland.
Wigan appointed Roberto Martínez, then manager of Swansea City, as manager prior to the 2009–10 Premier League season. He previously played for Wigan from 1995 to 2001. On 26 September, they claimed their first three points against a "Big 4" team after beating Chelsea 3–1, with goals from Titus Bramble, Hugo Rodallega and Paul Scharner. A late surge that included a 1–0 win over Liverpool and a 3–2 win over Arsenal – the latter of which saw Wigan recover from two goals down with ten minutes remaining to win in injury time – saw the team once more survive relegation. Most notably, having never defeated any of the traditional "Big Four" in the league until their win over Chelsea (and with only one win over any of them in cup competitions), Wigan ended the season having defeated three of them at home.
In the 2010–11 season, Wigan fell to the bottom of the league by the end of February, following a 4–0 defeat to Manchester United. However, despite remaining in the bottom three for the majority of the season, they managed to retain their Premier League status on the last day of the season, defeating Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium after a goal from Hugo Rodallega. On 7 May 2012, they simultaneously secured their Premier League status and relegated Blackburn Rovers with a 1–0 victory at Ewood Park.
In 2013, after beating Everton in the quarter-final and Millwall in the semi-final, Wigan reached the FA Cup Final for the first time in their history. In the final, played at Wembley Stadium, Wigan beat Manchester City 1–0, with a goal by Ben Watson scored in injury time. Wigan's first ever major trophy also gave the club a place in the group stage of the Europa League. Following their 4–1 defeat to Arsenal three days later, Wigan Athletic ended their eight-year spell in the Premier League and became the first team to be relegated and win the FA Cup in the same season. On 5 June it was announced that Martínez had left Wigan and had signed for Everton on a four-year deal.
Recent history: 2013–
On 14 June 2013, Dave Whelan revealed that a deal had been agreed with Owen Coyle to become the new manager of Wigan Athletic replacing outgoing manager Roberto Martínez who left for Everton. He won his first game away at Barnsley before being defeated by Manchester United in the Community Shield. Coyle left the club by mutual agreement on 2 December 2013 having won seven games out of twenty-three and having faced criticism by Latics supporters regarding his style of play.
Uwe Rösler replaced him on 7 December, and on 12 December in his first match, Wigan were eliminated from the Europa League group stage after defeat to Maribor. On 9 March 2014 Wigan beat Manchester City in the 6th Round of the FA Cup to reach the semi-final at Wembley for the second successive year, where they played Arsenal, and lost 2–4 on penalties after normal time and extra time resulted in a 1–1 draw. After finishing 5th in the Championship, Wigan lost their play-off semi-final to Queens Park Rangers.
Rösler was sacked in November 2014 with the club in the relegation places, and was replaced by Malky Mackay. Whelan resigned as chairman on 3 March 2015, remaining as owner but handing over the chairmanship to his grandson David Sharpe. The following month, with Wigan in danger of relegation to League One, Mackay was sacked and replaced by former Wigan captain Gary Caldwell, yet the team ended the season with relegation. The squad changed drastically, including the signings of Will Grigg from Brentford and Reece James from Manchester United. The side lost only once in 23 matches in the second half of the season and won the division, with Grigg the league's top scorer with 25 goals.
In October 2016, following a poor start to the season, Caldwell was sacked as manager and replaced by Manchester United coach Warren Joyce. Joyce was unable to turn around the clubs fortunes and was sacked as manager in March 2017 after winning just 6 of his 24 games in charge leaving the club 23rd in the Championship.
Football League History
Main article: DW Stadium
Wigan Athletic's stadium is the 25,138 capacity DW Stadium, part of the Robin Park complex in Wigan. It has been the club's home since the 1999–2000 season. Wigan Athletic own the stadium, but lease the ground to rugby league team Wigan Warriors, The ground cost £30 million to construct. Previously, home games were played at Springfield Park, the former home of Wigan Borough. Springfield Park was demolished in June 1999; it is now the site of a housing development. The record attendance at the DW Stadium (then known as the JJB Stadium) for Wigan Athletic is 25,133 for a match against Manchester United on 11 May 2008 – the final match of the 2007–08 season.
The JJB Stadium was the fourth attempt at re-development/re-location for Wigan Athletic, the first coming in 1986 when then-chairman Bill Kenyon revealed plans for a 15,000 all-seater development at Springfield Park including a hotel and shopping facilities. The club were to play at the nearby Woodhouse Stadium (formerly Wigan Municipal Stadium – now demolished) while the building work took place. In 1990, Kenyon submitted his second scheme which would cost £3m, hold 12–15,000 fans and involve moving the pitch nearer to the car park. Neither efforts got past the planning stage. The next chairman, Stephen Gage, spent most of 1993 and 1994 trying to relocate the Latics to the then Robin Park Stadium (now demolished) until his plans were scuppered by Wigan Council when the local council announced plans for their own ground involving Wigan Warriors. Mr Gage finally admitted defeat when he sold the Latics to Dave Whelan on 27 February 1995 for around £1m.
Plans for the JJB Stadium were first published in 1997. Contracts for the new stadium were signed in late 1997 and work began immediately. Originally the ground was to be built for both Wigan Athletic and Orrell R.U.F.C., as grants were only available for multi-use stadia at that time. Wigan Warriors did not figure in the equation until Dave Whelan bought the rugby league club some 12 months later after protracted negotiations with the directors of the rugby league club. The modern all-seater stadium was officially opened on 4 August 1999. Its inauguration was marked with a friendly between Wigan and neighbours Manchester United, who were then reigning European Champions, with Alex Ferguson officially opening the stadium. However, Wigan Athletic hosted Morecambe three days earlier on 1 August as a dress rehearsal for the official opening against Manchester United. The game was played during a violent electrical storm and torrential rain, even so, 4,020 supporters attended and the game ended in a goalless draw. The first competitive football match took place on 7 August 1999, with Wigan Athletic facing Scunthorpe United in a Division 2 match. Simon Haworth scored twice, including the first competitive goal at the new stadium, as Athletic won 3–0.
On 7 March 2005 Greater Manchester police announced that they would stop policing Wigan Athletic matches at the stadium from 2 April. This move later, Wigan Athletic, facing the prospect of playing their home games in the Premier League in an empty stadium, paid the money they owed to the police. The club appealed against the payments in court and won, with the claims expected to earn the club around £37,000.
For 2013–14 Europa League fixtures held at the stadium, the ground was known as The Wigan Athletic Stadium.
Wigan Athletic Official Supporters Club (formally known as Wigan Athletic Supporters Travel Club) is the official supporters' association of Wigan Athletic Football Club. The supporters club are a non-profit organisation run by volunteers and meet before home matches in the South Stand Bar.
The Latics' most vocal supporters can be found in the East Stand of the DW Stadium which houses up to 8,206 fans The South Stand of the ground is the family stand.
A long-standing song sung by fans of the club is You Are My Sunshine. In more recent times, I'm a Believer, Hokey cokey, We Built This City and Gold are among some the songs that have been adapted by Wigan supporters.
Resulting from a number of incidences at Latics matches where smoke bombs were used by fans (resulting in 17 banning orders as a result of one fixture), several club statements were issued and police presence was increased at some matches. Data from the UK Football Policing Unit found that Wigan Athletic along with Everton and Manchester United had the highest amount of incidents involving pyrotechnics.
Wigan's return to the Championship saw an average away following of over 1,200. This figure did not include Europa League, Community Shield, League Cup and FA Cup fixtures, where on average supporters turned up in greater numbers.
In 2013, the club sold out their 22,000 allocation for the FA Cup Final and sold 20,000 tickets for the FA Cup semi-final. A total of 5,500 was also sold for the FA Community Shield in the same year.
In 2014, hundreds of fans took part in a charity walk from Wigan to Bolton in aid of local charity Joseph's Goal. Joseph was Wigan's mascot in the 2013 FA Cup Final, let out by captain Emmerson Boyce.
On Boxing Day, over the years many fans have chosen to attend Wigan Athletic's match in fancy dress. This is particularly prominent with away fixtures on that day where the fans are known as the 'Banana Army'. However, on Boxing Day in 2014 a boycott of the club's fixture against Leeds United was ordered by some supporters due to the ticket prices for the match at Elland Road. Around 750 away fans attended the match.
During the 2014–15 season, a Fan Advisory Board (FAB) was set up by the club to allow supporters of Wigan Athletic to have a greater say on any issues they may have. The board meets every month to six weeks with the first meeting having taken place in November 2014.
One of Wigan Athletic's longest and recently forgotten rivalries was with nearby Lancashire based club Chorley, although the two clubs have not played a league game since 1971 when they were in the Northern Premier League. Since Wigan Athletic's admission to the Football League in 1978, the club has built up several rivalries, mainly with Bolton Wanderers, the club's primary derby match since reaching the Premier League in 2005. They also have other rivalries with Preston North End, Bury, Oldham Athletic, Burnley, Rochdale and Blackburn Rovers.
There is also a long-standing issue with Wigan Rugby League which predates the club. This was first reported during the final season of Wigan Town in 1908 when the rugby club purposly arranged games to coincide with those of the football club in an attempt to force Town out of existence. This worsened when Latics entered the Football League in 1978 and was exacerbated in the mid-1980s when one of the then directors of the rugby club, Maurice Lindsay, made derogatory comments about the football club during a television interview. Lindsay was later appointed to the Board of Directors at Wigan Athletic, much to the disapproval of many older supporters.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Notable former players
Main article: List of Wigan Athletic F.C. players
Player of the Year (1978–2016)
As listed on the official Wigan Athletic website.
Main article: List of Wigan Athletic F.C. records and statistics