Wigan Athletic may not be a giant in football but their history is certainly something to be proud of. The team played at Springfield Park 1897 to 1999 and during that time enjoyed great success.
The ground has seen a number of Wigan incantations play there including Wigan United and Wigan Borough F.C. when Borough went or business Wigan Athletic were formed and took charge at Springfield Park from around 1933. The first professional game to be played there was between Wigan and Burton Swifts in a friendly match.
The ground was hit by fire during the 1952-53 and it took great effort to raise money for the rebuild of a new stand. The following season Wigan Athletic beat Hereford United 4–1 in front of a record crowd of 27,526. This is still the largest attendance between to non-league clubs, not including Wembley finals.
Springfield Park hosted the first floodlit match between Wigan and Crewe Alexandra on 19 October 1966. There were many plans to renovate and redevelop the ground but all came to no avail. In the end the Club was sold to Dave Whelan.
Change of hands
Dave Whelan had big ambitions for the Club, one of which was to reach the dizzy heights of the Premier League. A new stadium was built, the JJB Stadium, which due to commercial interests became the DW Stadium. Springfield Park was turned into a housing estate.
Slip and slide
Springfield Park played host to some amazing football moments over the years as well as a few humorous ones, which many fans of the Club will remember with great fondness. One such memory involved the away end, known as the Shevington End, which was famous for it’s grass hill. During a muddy day in 1989, a group of travelling Sunderland fans found out the hard way that it wasn’t a good idea to navigate your way up or down it, much to the delight of the home support.
Another of Springfield Park’s record attendances was for the visit of Leeds United during an FA Cup quarter final in 1987, where 12,500 supporters watched as the home side were beaten 2-0, despite almost pulling a goal back through legendary Bobby Campbell.
The last game to be played at Springfield Park was against Manchester City which ended in a 1-1 draw and City’s Paul Dickov having the honour of scoring the last ever goal. At the end of the match many supporters were lucky enough to take a piece of the turf home with them. Meaning that in some gardens across Lancashire, there is still a few blades of grass from Springfield Park left.