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ON THIS DAY IN 1978: WIGAN ATHLETIC'S LEAGUE DEBUT AT HEREFORD UNITED

19 August 2018

Today we re-live the club's first ever league fixture 40 years ago.

  • On This Day: Latics travelled to Hereford United for the first league match as a professional club.
  • Celebrating 40 years since our first ever league fixture in 1978.
  • Latics drew 0-0 at Edgar Street, but it was to be the foundation for 40 years of defying the odds.
HEREFORD UNITED 0 – 0 WIGAN ATHLETIC
SATURDAY 19 AUGUST 1978
EDGAR STREET
FOOTBALL LEAGUE FOURTH DIVISION

A reported 3,000 Wigan Athletic supporters made the near-300 round trip to witness history being made as, after 46 years as a non-league club, Latics took their first steps into league football against Hereford United at Edgar Street.

Ian Gillibrand, a walking non-league legend, led his team out into a cauldron of noise, a fitting welcome for a man who played more than 600 times in blue and white through the Cheshire League, Northern Premier League and finally, the Football League.

Gillibrand, Brown, Gore, Hinnigan, Davids, Ward, Corrigan, Wright, Houghton, Wilkie and Purdie, 11 names etched into the DNA of the club as the first men to play a full-time professional league fixture.

Latics set up a five man defence that day with Joe Hinnigan and Tommy Gore acting as wide midfielders, the modern day wing backs, whilst Frank Corrigan dominated the midfielder alongside the mercurial Jeff Wright. Skipper Gillibrand was joined by Neil Davids and Noel Ward, whilst John Wilkie, Ian Purdie and lightening quick Peter Houghton made up the attack.

A disallowed Houghton header and a fingertipped save to deny Wright were the only things that stood in the way of a fairytale ending to Latics’ first league outing, alas, it wasn’t to be, but the newest members of the country’s heralded football structure would go on to prove their worth by the end of the 1978-79 season by finishing sixth in the Fourth Division, a mere six points from promotion.

The league at last...

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