Yes, it’s a barm !

Today we move to the pie capital of England (I’ve since learnt that Scottish non-league football is the best place for pies).

No idea why I’ve kept this programme for 40+ years, something to do with the fascination of clubs joining and leaving the League.

Wigan beat Big Jack’s strugglers 1-0

Wigan lost at tiny Birmingham City (pre-Clarkson) in the 3rd round, but were swiftly voted into the League to replace neighbours Southport.


Quite how Latics fans coped with losing away days at Goole, Mossley and Bangor, gaining Reading, Wimbledon and Bournemouth, I can only guess.

Who were Manchester City (Sep19) ?

But of course your typical Wiganer, as pictured below in the programme,

Advert for Wigan Northern Soul night

has never been much interested in football. Till they beat Manchester City 3 times in the FA Cup in the last decade, anyway.

No, the national sport of Wigan is pie eating. And visiting micropubs.

Like the Springfield.

Flashy ads in 1977

I visited the Springfield in 1996 when Wigan had started their Martinez (as a player) stage, and was wowed by the Tetley Bitter.

20 years later I wrote;

“The town has come a long way in the 20 years since it I first visited Springfield Park, and the town had a somewhat faded allure.  In those days the Beer Guide was full of Burtonwood (Pear Tree), Tetley (Springfield) and probably Greenalls, and very good it was too after a soaking on the terraces.

The last 15 years have seen the modernisation of the football, the pub scene, the Wiend and the shopping centre.  The Grand Arcade is better than it’s overrated namesake in Cambridge & they’ve managed to keep their Victorian arcades; Wigan is a Victorian gem.”

Why haven’t the Beer & Pubs Old Codgers visited yet ?


It’s got art, and Thwaites.

John Bull Chophouse

And a micropub with a station departures board.

Wigan Central
All your favouries

And the Tap’n’Barrel is beautifully situated near to a Thai massage parlour the Raven.

Best beer in Wigan
Pub life

Perhaps just a few too micros in the Guide for some, but I reckon the return of the Swan & Railway may tempt Stafford Paul back.  But possibly not just yet.

Photo : Swan & Railway




29 thoughts on “WIGAN – MORE THAN PIES

    1. Your taste in towns is immaculate, Jane 👍

      It’s no Blackpool, of course, but there’s some very good late night fun pubs with good beer like Berkeley and Boulevard, really inclusive places.

      I think the Swan reopened quite recently, before sadly being mothballed. Definitely one for a visit soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wigan was my last football day out before everything stopped. Swan & Railway, Tudor House, Bird i’th Hand and Springfield pre-match, then Wigan Central afterwards. The Bass in the S&R went down a treat, ditto the Black Sheep in the Springfield. Those were the days. (It was a goalless draw for the Hatters.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sadly we didn’t get to go for our annual defeat at Wigan, it falling shortly after the temporarily permanent abandonment of our quest for relegation with precisely 41 points. I ended up making my own butter pie on the day we should have been there. It wasn’t the same, no Lancastrian hospitality. Always been a proper town, although I remember thinking there were no GBG entries when I didn’t realise it was in the fantasy make believe land of Greater Manchester.

      Interesting reading about the muddy banks at places like Springhead Park. I have never seen one in the League in my day – I assume at some point they must have been outlawed. However, I do remember sliding down one away to Nottingham Forest Youth after we went 1-0 up. We went on to draw the game 1-1. There is also one behind the ground at Northampton – at the opposite end to and clearly visible from the away end. I recall a large congregation of City chucked out of the home end stood on the bank during a 5-1 win there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Love the detail, Tom.

        After attending one of the first matches at the new Sixfields against Bury I walked up that bank to get away from the ground in less than 90 minutes. Both booed and cheered by home fans, I made it up in 30 seconds while all round me fell on their faces in the mud.


      2. Never been to Northampton’s new ground but the old one was pretty terrible. Only three sides because of the cricket ground, one end closed and away fans corralled on some mud in a corner. Happy days in the 1980s!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well, I hate to disagree, Bill, but….

        Stood on a duckboard backing onto the cricket pitch in ’93 when Wrexham won to get promotion, great fun. A year later I stood in the largish home terrace as they put 5 past Mansfield (really should have been 10) but finished bottom of the League, saved by Kiddie’s ground, ironically.


  2. Wigan is a fine town. I don’t miss the slippery bank at one end of Springfield Park though. Manchester City ‘A’ were in that league I think. Not uncommon in those days, or more usually, earlier, as one of your East Anglian posts showed. At one time Newbury Town were in the Metropolitan League and played Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea etc. Keep them coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. God, I remember the mud bank at Wigan. Only time I went there, it was pouring rain so my mates and I paid an extra couple of quid to sit in the stand and watch our fellow BCFC fans rolling around in the mire. Went to the Springfield afterwards, so a good day all round.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. In the days before satnavs, a good way of finding a football ground in a strange town was to look for floodlight pylons. So we rocked up in Wigan, saw the pylons, made straight for them only to find… the rugby league ground.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls (keep you all aglow) are the symbol of Wigan that I most remember, especially the large advert visible from the train towards Preston. They were described (alright, by the makers) as the Pride of Wigan. Perhaps a micro-brewer with nothing else to do could devise a beer using ground-up mint balls as an ingredient and call it Wigan Pride?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wigan…Barry McGuigan’s real name is Finbar Patrick McGuigan. He was honoured in an Irish ballad song released in 1984, called “The Clones Cyclone”. It was written by Johnny McCauley, and sung by Big Tom.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I do love seeing the words “wowed by the Tetley Bitter.” I’m sure the taste of a pint of Tetley’s wasn’t nearly as good as it used to be even on the very first day it was brewed, but me, I will always be a fan.

    My wife and I watched the series “The English Game” on Netflix; can’t fully recommend it (as it is more soap opera than serious recreation of the early days of football), but one moment does stand out: When they had a Southern upper class gent utter the line, “Say what you like about the North, but they do know how to make a good pie.” I agree with that sentiment, without fully understanding what it is I’m talking about. 😉


    1. I do love your early evening comments, Mark.

      Part of the appeal of Tetley (and other creamy beers like Boddingtons) was that they were so different to the ales I was used to in Cambridge. Some folk say it’s been rather good lately.

      I hate to tell you this; English TV isn’t a patch on US.

      Liked by 1 person

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