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 club's 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||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||7 February 1923||Wales def. England 13–2||12,000|
|4||30 September 1925||England def. Wales 18–14||12,000|
|5||2 October 1926||England def. New Zealand 28–20||14,500||1926–27 England vs New Zealand series|
|6||11 January 1928||England def. Wales 20–12||12,000|
|7||27 February 1943||England def. Wales 15–9||17,000|
|8||26 February 1944||England drew with Wales 9–9||16,028|
|9||10 March 1945||England def. Wales 23–8||23,500|
|10||20 September 1947||Wales def. England 10–8||27,000||1947–48 European Rugby League Championship|
|11||22 September 1948||England def. Wales 11–5||12,638||1948–49 European Rugby League Championship|
|12||1 March 1950||England def. Wales 11–6||27,500||1949–50 European Rugby League Championship|
|13||11 April 1951||Other Nationalities def. England 25–10||17,000||1950–51 European Rugby League Championship|
|14||23 April 1952||England def. Other Nationalities 31–18||20,000||1951–52 European Rugby League Championship|
|15||17 September 1952||England def. Wales 19–8||13,503||1952–53 European Rugby League Championship|
|16||28 November 1953||England def. Other Nationalities 30–22||19,000||1953–54 European Rugby League Championship|
|17||12 September 1955||England def. Other Nationalities 33–16||18,234||1955–56 European Rugby League Championship|
|18||17 November 1956||Great Britain def. Australia 21–10||22,473||1956 Ashes series|
|19||23 November 1957||England def. France 44–15||19,152|
|20||12 December 1959||Great Britain def. Australia 18–12||26,089||1959 Ashes series|
|21||24 September 1960||Australia def. France 13–12||20,278||1960 Rugby League World Cup|
|22||8 October 1960||New Zealand def. France 9–0||2,876|
|23||17 February 1962||France def. Great Britain 20–15||17,277|
|24||3 April 1963||Great Britain def. France 42–4||19,487|
|25||6 November 1965||Great Britain drew with New Zealand 9–9||7,919||1965 Great Britain vs New Zealand series|
|26||5 March 1966||France def. Great Britain 8–4||14,004|
|27||4 March 1967||France def. Great Britain 23–13||7,448|
|28||25 October 1969||England drew with France 11–11||4,568||1969–70 European Rugby League Championship|
|29||21 October 1970||Australia def. New Zealand 47–11||9,805||1970 Rugby League World Cup group stage|
|30||17 February 1974||Great Britain def. France 29–0||9,108|
|31||1 November 1975||England def. Australia 16–13||9,393||1975 Rugby League World Cup|
|32||21 October 1978||Australia def. Great Britain 15–9||17,644||1978 Ashes series|
|33||18 October 1980||Great Britain drew with New Zealand 14–14||7,031||1980 Great Britain vs New Zealand series|
|34||20 November 1982||Australia def. Great Britain 27–6||23,126||1982 Ashes series|
|35||2 November 1985||Great Britain def. New Zealand 25–8||15,506||1985 Great Britain vs New Zealand series|
|36||1 March 1986||Great Britain def. France 24–10||8,112|
|37||22 November 1986||Australia def. Great Britain 24–15||20,169||1986 Ashes series |
1985–1988 Rugby League World Cup
|38||24 October 1987||Great Britain def. Papua New Guinea 42–0||9,121||1985–1988 Rugby League World Cup|
|39||21 January 1989||Great Britain def. France 26–10||8,266|
|40||11 November 1989||Great Britain def. New Zealand 10–6||20,346||1989 Great Britain vs New Zealand series |
1989–1992 Rugby League World Cup
|41||9 November 1991||Great Britain def. Papua New Guinea 56–4||4,193||1989–1992 Rugby League World Cup|
|42||30 October 1993||Great Britain def. New Zealand 29–12||16,502||1993 Great Britain vs New Zealand series|
|43||11 October 1995||England def. Fiji 46–0||26,263||1995 Rugby League World Cup Group A|
Rugby League Tour Matches
Other than Wigan club games and test matches, Central Park was also a regular host to various international touring teams from 1907–1994.
|1||9 November 1907||Wigan def. New Zealand 12–8||30,000||1907–08 All Golds tour|
|2||11 January 1908||England XIII def. New Zealand 18–16||12,000|
|3||25 November 1908||Australia def. Lancashire 20–6||4,000||1908–09 Kangaroo Tour|
|4||9 January 1909||Wigan def. Australia 10–7||4,000|
|5||20 January 1909||Wigan def. Australia 16–8||9,100|
|6||28 October 1911||Wigan def. Australasia 7–2||25,000||1911–12 Kangaroo Tour|
|7||31 January 1912||Australasia def. Northern Union XIII 20–12||2,000|
|8||15 October 1921||Australasia def. Wigan 14–6||24,308||1921–22 Kangaroo Tour|
|9||3 December 1929||Northern Union XIII def. Australasia 18–5||9,987||1929–30 Kangaroo Tour|
|10||28 December 1929||Australasia def. Wigan 10–9||8,000|
|11||23 September 1933||Australia def. Wigan 10–4||15,712||1933–34 Kangaroo Tour|
|12||6 March 1934||Wigan def. France 30–27||8,000||1934 French rugby league tour|
|13||3 November 1937||Australia def. Wigan 25–23||9,800||1937–38 Kangaroo Tour|
|14||20 October 1948||Wigan def. Australia 16–11||28,554||1948–49 Kangaroo Tour|
|15||8 December 1948||Lancashire def. Australia 13–8||11,788|
|16||26 August 1950||Wigan def. Italy 49–28|
|17||24 September 1952||Australia def. Wigan 23–13||16,223||1952–53 Kangaroo Tour|
|18||8 December 1956||Australia def. Wigan 32–4||15,854||1956–57 Kangaroo Tour|
|19||14 November 1959||Wigan def. Australia 16–9||24,466||1959–60 Kangaroo Tour|
|20||25 September 1963||Lancashire def. Australia 13–11||15,068||1963–64 Kangaroo Tour|
|21||18 November 1963||Australia def. Wigan 32–4||11,746|
|22||13 October 1967||Wigan def. Australia 12–6||22,770||1967–68 Kangaroo Tour|
|23||17 November 1972||Wigan drew with Australia 18–18||6,000||1972 Australian Rugby League World Cup tour|
|24||18 November 1978||Australia def. Wigan 28–2||10,645||1978 Kangaroo Tour|
|25||13 October 1982||Australia def. Wigan 13–9||12,158||1982 Kangaroo Tour|
|26||23 October 1983||Queensland def. Wigan 40–2||9,749||1983 Queensland Maroons tour|
|27||6 October 1985||Wigan def. New Zealand 14–8||1985 New Zealand Kiwis tour|
|28||12 October 1986||Australia def. Wigan 26–18||30,622||1986 Kangaroo Tour|
|29||14 October 1990||Australia def. Wigan 34–6||24,814||1990 Kangaroo Tour|
|30||10 October 1993||New Zealand def. Wigan 25–18||1993 New Zealand Kiwis tour|
|31||8 October 1994||Australia def. Wigan 30–20||20,057||1994 Kangaroo Tour|
World Club Challenge/Championship
Central Park hosted 5 World Club Challenge games between 1987–1997.
|1||7 October 1987||Wigan def. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 8–2||36,895||1987 World Club Challenge|
|2||30 October 1992||Brisbane Broncos def. Wigan 22–8||17,764||1992 World Club Challenge|
|3||20 July 1997||Brisbane Broncos def. Wigan Warriors 30–4||12,816||1997 World Club Championship|
|4||28 July 1997||Wigan Warriors def. Canterbury Bulldogs 31–24||10,280|
|5||3 August 1997||Canberra Raiders def. Wigan Warriors 50–10||12,504|
- 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".
| Home of Wigan RLFC
1902 – 1999
Sydney Cricket Ground
| Host of the World Club Challenge
| Host of the World Club Challenge