Wigan Warriors are a professional rugby league club. They currently share the JJB Stadium with Wigan Athletic, a professional football club currently playing in the Championship.
Wigan Warriors began its life as Wigan Football club back in 1872. It was then, a few members of Wigan Cricket Club decided to start a new team. Their first competitive match took place in 1873 against Warrington.
Sadly, the club was making a lot of money, and after a few mergers and loss of players, the team became the Wigan Wasps in 1879. However, even this was not that successful, with the team being suspended from competitive play by the RFU due to an issue with payments to their players. This resulted in Wigan Warriors forming a ‘breakaway’ league called Northern Union.
The league that the club was in saw a lot of success, however, a few years later, many of the teams resigned from the league to form their own. Wigan Wasps remained, although there were fewer clubs for them to play.
In June 1922, Wigan shook the Rugby world when it pulled in Jim Sullivan, an unproven 22-year-old for an incredible fee of £750 at the time. Even if a player was experienced in the league, they would never command this sort of fee. However, Sullivan proved all his critics wrong. He picked up several points for the team, including in his first match, and went on to great success with Wigan. In 1932, he accepted the role of player-coach at the club where he was able to achieve even more success with the club.
While the Rugby League Football Championship was closed during World War II, Wigan played in a couple of other leagues which were specifically set up to provide entertainment during the war time. However, they did have fewer players playing for them simply because much of their squad was fighting the war overseas.
Shortly after the war, Jim Sullivan played his last ever game for the team. In 1946. However, he was able to achieve a lot of success in the six years afterwards where he remained as coach. Wigan holds the honour of being the first team to be broadcast on national TV in a rugby competition. At the time, they faced off against Wakefield Trinity.
In 1953, Wigan was able to score Billy Boston at a bargain price of £150. If you ask any Wigan Warriors fan, you will know that he is often regarded as one of the best players in the history of Wigan, and he is routinely praised around the club.
Wigan had a lot of success in the league between then and 1974. However, in 1974 they went on a streak where they were not able to win a single league or cup for a whopping 8 years. Around this time, they weren’t a fan of being broadcast on TV either, which meant that they banned TV cameras from the ground, although the Rugby League eventually fined them, which resulted in the cameras being allowed back into the stadium.
In the 1980s, Wigan saw even more bad things happen to the team. They were relegated from the top league for the very first time in their history. While their attendances did fall the following season, they were able to make their way back into the top division by the end of it, which meant that they were not at the bottom of the league for too long. Shortly afterwards, they became one of the first teams in the league to go fully professional.
Since then, the club has had mixed fortunes. A lot of their success has come from moving to the JJB Stadium along with Wigan Athletic, where both clubs have achieved success in their respective leagues. 2018 was probably one of the most successful years for the team, with them being one of the first two teams to play a Super League game outside of Europe when they headed to Australia. A lot of their games were televised live in 2018 too, which resulted in a lot of cash being put into the team, with them being able to strengthen the squad while making use of the charitable status that they have to help develop Rugby in youths around the Wigan area.