Record signing Jim Sullivan lost no time piling on the points when he made his debut for Wigan rugby league club in August 1921.
The Welsh fullback scored no less than five conversions in a 21-0 win against Widnes. He’d score another 2,312 in his remarkable 25-year playing career at Wigan.
On top of the conversions, he notched up 23 tries, amassing an incredible 4,883 points over 774 games. It’s a club record that will never be beaten.
As a player and coach, Sullivan was instrumental in Wigan’s first period of dominance in the league and cup, stretching from the early 1920s to the mid-1950s.
Today, Nostalgia reflects on that golden era with the help of outstanding photos from the M.E.N. archive. It laid the foundation for Wigan’s premier position in the modern game.
Signed from Cardiff rugby union club at the age of 17, Sullivan’s first taste of success at Wigan came in the 13-2 victory over Oldham in the 1922 League Championship final.
He scored four conversions in that game and repeated the feat in the 22-10 win against Warrington in the 1926 championship final.
In the meantime, he’d helped Wigan win the 1924 Challenge Cup in a 21-4 victory over Oldham.
Wigan also won the Challenge Cup in 1929 and 1948, before dominating the competition in the 1950s. They took the cup back to Lancashire in 1951, 1958 and 1959.
Just for good measure, they defeated Hunslet 20-16 to win the cup in 1965 as well!
The club were hugely successful in the league too. They were crowned champions in 1909, 1922, 1926, 1934, 1946, 1947, 1950, 1952 and 1960!
The 1947 championship final was played against Dewsbury at Maine Road, Manchester. Sullivan had retired as a player a year earlier and was now the team’s full-time coach.
Our photo shows Wigan captain Joe Egan being lifted aloft by his delighted team mates after their hard-fought 13-4 victory.
There were more celebrations in May 1951 when the victorious Wigan team came home with the cup after beating Barrow 10-0 at Wembley. The final has been played there since 1929.
Players opened the roof of their coach to display the cup as they slowly made their way through the crowds to a civic reception at the Town Hall.
Another Wigan legend, centre Eric Ashton, led the team to an emphatic 30-13 victory against Hull F.C. in the 1959 final.
In our photo, Ashton is hoisted aloft – along with the cup – by his jubilant team mates on the Wembley pitch. Second from right is Billy Boston, one the game’s greatest players.
It was the second cup triumph in a row for Wigan as they’d beaten Workington Town 13-9 in 1958.
Ashton played 497 matches for Wigan from 1955 to 1969, scoring 231 tries and a total of 1,589 points.
Boston’s record was equally impressive. The Welsh centre played 488 games for Wigan from 1953 to 1968, scoring an extraordinary 478 tries. His points total for the club was 1,448.
Clowning around was the order of the day when Wigan returned to their home ground of Central Park with Challenge Cup in May 1965. Team joker Danny Gardener tried to wear it as a hat as joyful fans looked on!
Wigan’s 20-16 victory over Hunslet was to be their last in a cup final for two decades, until they beat Hull F.C. 28-24 in 1985.
To date, Wigan have won the Challenge Cup a record 19 times. They’ve lifted the championship trophy a record 22 times too.
Finally in our round-up, two images which depict the gritty determination and humour that go together to make up any tough rugby league season.
The first shows Wigan in action against Bradford Northern at Central Park in the 1951-2 season. Jack Cunliffe of Wigan tackles Trevor Foster in the cloying mud and rain. Just behind them, showing a steely-eyed resolve, is Wigan player Ronald Mather.
In complete contrast, the second photo depicts Dave Bolton teeing off in rugby boots in Blackpool during an official rest period.
We’re not sure where his drive ended up!