Wigan Athletic is probably one of the newer teams in the football league. This is because they weren’t formed until 1932, although at that time they were formed out of the recent defunct Wigan Borough. It really took a while for the team to get going, though. The football league wasn’t a fan of them joining up with the team receiving zero votes for membership, and Cheshire County League continued to reject them until a team resigned which left a hole that Wigan Athletic was more than happy to fill.
In the first season they played in the Cheshire County League, they did ridiculously well. They were able to win the entire league. The same happened the next season. They were able to take the tournament again, while also gaining the record for a win over another club in the FA Cup, which meant that the early days of Wigan Athletic were highly successful.
After the Second World War, the Wigan Athletic team was struggling a lot due to losses in their team. In fact, they struggled so much that they were kicked out of the Cheshire County League, which left the club without a league to play in. They ended up joining the Lancashire Combination as a result, which they ended up winning at their first attempt. This almost resulted in them getting elected to the football league in 1950, but it wasn’t quite meant to be.
In 1968, Wigan Athletic were the founders of a new league; the Northern Premier League. They ended up winning the league in 1971. This resulted in them trying to gain access to the Scottish leagues, although they were repeatedly turned down. Thankfully, they were accepted to the Football League in England in 1978.
Wigan Athletic in the Football League
The only reason that Wigan made it into the football league is that the team that was meant to qualify did not have stadium to fit for the UK football league. Wigan, at the time, were playing at Springfield Park which was up to scratch for the football league.
Once again, Wigan were able to take the league they joined by storm. While they did not win the league, they ended up in a far better than expected position of sixth. They were just a few points off promotion too, which firmly cemented Wigan’s place in the football league.
Their first promotion in the Football League didn’t come until 1981. This ended up promoting them to the third tier in the Football League, which resulted in them being there for the next ten years, coming close to both relegation and promotion several times during their stay. A short while later they were on the brink of being kicked out of the Football League after sitting at the bottom of the Conference. However, Wigan got lucky as there was no team in the lower leagues around to replace them, which meant they got to stay up.
The golden times for the club
It was in 1995 that Wigan managed to get the stroke of luck they needed. At the time, Dave Whelan, the owner of JJB Sports, purchased the club. He was able to attract some seriously good players to the club, with the club going from strength to strength in the league. It is unlikely that the other clubs in the Football League were fans of the amount of investment that Wigan Athletic was getting, but they were certainly earning a ton of cash, which was fantastic for the club at the supporters.
It was in 2002 that Wigan Athletic were promoted to the second division for the first time ever. While they managed to take the first 17 games in the league unbeaten, they fell off at the end and ended up in 7th place at the end of the season. Wigan earned promoted to the Premier League in the 2003-2004 season.
Wigan managed to stay in the Premier League until 2013, where they hold the ‘honour’ of being the only team in league history to both be relegated from the Premier League and win the FA Cup in the same season. The only other team that came close to this was Brighton almost thirty years earlier.
Following relegation from the Premier League, Dave Whelan sold the club which resulted in lots of negativity with the Wigan Athletic squad, seeing relegation after relegation. At the time of writing, they are currently sitting in the Championship, in the hope that they will be promoted to the Premier League again in the near future, although they have yet to have a lot of success in the Championship, but as long as they get investment and crowds, there is no reason why they won’t get back up again.