Formed 1920. Wound up 1931.
Founder member of Division Three (North) 1921. Resigned 1931.
1921-1924 a d
1924-1926 a b d e f
1926-1931 c d
Wigan Association FC came into being in October 1920 when Wigan United, an amateur club, was forced to close down after it was discovered that they had been making "broken time" payments to players. The new club took over United's fixtures in the Lancashire Combination and in November 1920, the Lancashire FA agreed the club could change its name to Wigan Borough. This was largely in order to avoid confusion with Wigan RLFC, the town's famous Rugby League club.
The following season Borough applied to join the new Third Division (North) of the Football League, despite finishing next to last in the Combination. Remarkably, Borough were elected, the league clubs being keen to penetrate into this rugby stronghold. The team's best performances were in 1923, when they finished in fifth place, and 1929 (fourth). Otherwise, the team generally finished well down the league.
The team wore red and white halved shirts until 1924 when plain jerseys were adopted. For a long time the colour of the new tops was a mystery until, in February 2012, a report on the club's AGM in the Wigan Examiner (8 July 1926) was discovered. This read, ...the colour of the team's jerseys had been changed from green to black and gold - he was against the last change - and hoped that the gold would monopolise the black.
The change prompted a debate in the local press about whether to change Borough's nickname to "the Wasps" but this did not catch on and they continued to be known as "The Green Linnets."
As the Great Depression took hold, the Wigan public remained resolutely disinterested, preferring to support their successful rugby league side. Home gates dwindled to a few thousand (only 600 turned up to watch Gateshead in a snowstorm at the end of January 1931) and Borough were struggling to pay their players' wages at the end of the 1930-31 season.
With twelve matches of the 1930-31 season played, Borough had lost every match away from home and picked up seven points from their six home games but the players were again without their wages. Following an ultimatum from The Football League the directors decided to resign from the League. A statement was issued that read, "We have no hesitation in saying that the Association Football public in Wigan have shown once again that they have no desire to maintain League Football in Wigan." Their record was expunged and Wigan Borough went into voluntary liquidation.
In May 1932 a new club, Wigan Athletic was founded but it would another 56 years before League football would return to the town, a delay that was in some measure due to the statement about local support made by Borough's directors.
- (a) Ultimate Wigan Athletic Website
- (b) David Roughley
- (c) Keith Ellis
- (d) Wigan Borough in the Football League (Garth Dykes 2011) supplied by George Chilvers
- (e) Cockney Latic
- (f) This Northern Soul
Photograph courtesy of John Welshby.