Hull 1913

Today, the author of this site likes a good trip o'er to Hull. There is something about the East Riding of Yorkshire that sets both Humber clubs apart from the rest of Yorkshire. Perhaps it is the case that Hull is a hot bed of rugby league, a proper rugby city. Perhaps an everlasting memory is being frzoen to death against Hull KR during a Cup match as a child only remembering that my grandma's soup froze in her thermos flask!

Back in the day, games against Hull were a special occasion for Wiganers. We will go back to the 1912-13 season and explore the events of February 22nd, 1913 when 6,000 Wiganers made the trip to Hull. It didn't go well for many people.

Wigan were doing as expected in the League during the 1912-13 season. Between December 21st and February 15th, Wigan had won fourteen games in a row - all of them quite comfortably. Wigan were at war with Harold Wagstaff's Huddersfield at the top of the League whilst Hull FC were languishing mid-table embarassingly below Warrington. The game against Hull, at the Boulevard, was a run-of-the-mill fixture and was expected to be an easy one for Wigan.

As Wiganers were starting to see the first glimpses of Spring, the Great Central Railway Company announced some attractive trains for the Hull match. The first train would leave Wigan at 7:30 a.m., to arrive in Paragon-street Station, Hull, about 10:50. More trains would leave Wigan at 8:25, 8:50 and 9 o'clock. News was sent from Hull that there would be post-match entertainment for visiting supporters too.

"Lively scenes" were witnessed at the Lancashire & Yorkshire (Wallgate) station and the Great Central station. One day tripper commented that "what these lads from Wigan don't know about eliminating the tediousness of a long railway journey isn't worth knowing."

Eighty-seven saloons were chartered covering 9 rail locomotives with 6,000 Wiganers having been estimated to have made the trip cross-country.

Wigan lost 2-0 in the end, in a match that isn't worth talking about in a season which confirmed James Leytham's retirement and the cherries finishing runners-up in the Championship behind Huddersfield. The real story about this trip to Hull is of the rowdiness of Wiganers who, some of whom, enjoyed the day a bit too much.

The following passage comes from the "Daily Dispatch".

The conduct of the Wigan football supporters on their annual trip to Hull, has again given rise to discussion.

On Saturday 6,000 of the colliers invaded Hull, and at night seven of them were arrested, five for drunkenness and the other two for fighting.

Major Judge, who presided at the police court on Monday passed some strong strictures on the men who invaded Hull. The scene on Saturday night, he said, was disgraceful and the city was in a state of pandemonium.

The other magistrate on the bench was Alderman Askew. "Are there no teetotalers amongst those who come from Wigan?" he asked of one of the prisoners.

"We can do without you," the chairman told one of the defendants.

Fines of 5s. or five days were imposed in five of the cases, the two pugilists being ordered to find a surety and to pay the costs. The remarkable condemnation of the conduct of the Wigan football crowds at Hull by the Hull magistrates has brought a prompt and vigorous defence from the Chief Constable of Wigan (Mr. G. Hardy).

The spirited defence of the visitors made by the Chief Constable of Wigan puts another complexion on the charges made against the Wigan crowds. It is not only a defence, but an indictment of the morals of Hull that will inevitably be much discussed.


Writing to the "Daily Dispatch" Mr George Hardy (left) says: "In my 'Daily Dispatch' this morning I read a report of some police court proceedings at Hull where a certain magistrate made some strong comments about the conduct of trippers from West Lancashire, and this great and mighty Judge is reported to have said, 'We can do without you.'

"I was in Hull on Saturday last, and saw what he described as disgraceful sights, and quite agree with him, for what I saw was disgraceful. In no other city or town in England will you see so much - not of the drunken collier who seems to be so much detested by your high and mighty Judge, but of young girls not out of their teens openly soliciting in Parliament-street, Corn Exchange, King William-street to the Pier Head.

"Along with other friends, I visited about twenty licensed premises that evening looking round the quiet corners. I can imagine our temperance friends saying, 'What condition must he have been in after his visits to those twenty premises?' but I can assure you I was taking very little drink but making plenty of notes for future reference.

"I saw young girls hanging on to the coats of youths from West Lancashire, enticing them in, and being treated to drink under such conditions that even in the heathenish land from which the trippers came it would not be tolerated for one oment.

"I am pleased to see that the Editor of the 'Daily Dispatch' agrees with me that the great Judge has handled the truth very carelessly, and has exaggerated beyond all reason the state of things as they actually were. I am not trying to justify drunkenness or rowdyism - far from it. We at this end have tried to persuade people from taking such gargoes of refreshments on the trains; the justices have had the matter before them, and it has been laid before the respective railway representatives at the annual licensing sessions, and we deplore our failure to suppress it.


"In this island of ours there is still left a little liberty of the subject, which, I am afraid is abused, not only in this case, but in many other respects, such, for instance, as magistrates airing their own individual views from the bench.

"I have been going to Hull for over twenty years, have seen the place grow, and, as my father and mother reside there, am interested in the city to a certain degree, but the fact that only seven black sheep out of as many thousands are the only ones who have gone astray should make the great Judge admit that the percentage is very low. If there are many who deserved it and did not get it that is the fault of the shepherd and not the flock; perhaps the shepherd will have to answer for his negligence to the great Judge, and 'Woe be to him'.

"Alderman Askew asked if there were any teetotalers in Wigan. I can assure the worthy alderman that there were hundreds on the very same trains that took those seven poor sinners to Hull. There were several saloons, and if he is a supporter of the Sunday schools he will no doubt give credit to them for good intentions.

"I enclose a copy of the programme for the day of one of the schools."

The following is the programme alluded to by Mr. Hardy:-



The counter charges made against Hull by Mr. Hardy, the Chief Constable of Wigan, a "Daily Dispatch" repreentative learns, have aroused considerable discussion and resentment. Hull people do not like to be told by a visiting chief constable that young women not out of their teens waylaid the holiday-maker from Wigan and those who are chiefly concerned deny Mr. Hardy's sweeping allegations.

Neither Major Judge, whose remarks from the bench have caused the hubbub nor Mr. Morley, the Chief Constable, would discuss the letter.A stout defender of the port's fair fame was found in Mr. Edgar Chatterton, the secretary of the Vigilance Association.

"Mr. Hardy, he said, is absolutely wrong. I was out on Saturday night, and saw nothing unusual. I am sure I did not see any open soliciting. The streets of Hull are very much better than they used to be owing to the zeal of the police, and their condition is far superior to that of Manchester, Leeds, and other towns I have been in.

"Mr. Hardy's letter seems like the cry of a man who is bitter. As to his allegations of young women in their teens, he, as a Chief Constable, ought to know that unfortunate women of 20 and upwards try to make themselves look young and wear their hair down their backs."

Mr. Chatterton proceeded to make a somewhat surprising assertion.

"In Hull," he remarked, "more than in other towns, there are a number of young girls whose conduct on the streets is open to severe criticism. It was these who twitted the collier visitors, but immorality was furthest from their thoughts They were giddy, but not bad."


Mr. John Counsell, chairman of the Wigan Football Committee (above), interviewed by a "Daily Dispatch" representativem explained that he was not at Hull, but he had been three times already, and he had only to corroborate the Chief Constable of Wigan in all that he stated in his letter. "We cannot possibly undertake to control seven thousand people who may travel from our town," Mr. Counsell said, "especially to the extent of limiting their refreshment or policing their conduct. It has been my privilege to visit many towns in Englad, and while Wigan is made a pantomimic display of, I claim that it is a better place than most of its critics dare enter.

"In its morals and in its drinking in Hull I witnessed more demoralising scenes than I have seen in London."

Mr. Taylor, secretary of the club, said: "I have travelled Engand and Wales, and claim to know in my twenty years' experience the ethics of footballers as well as most men. My opinion is that the 7,000 people who travelled from an industrial centre like Wigan have behaved exceptionally well, especially in view of the fact that neither in our saloon nor the players' saloon had we any drink.

"I should like to know the statistics of Hull in proportion to Wigan on that particular Saturday night, with regard to their police court returns. Why we should be stigmatised and made pariahs of I do not understand. This kind of thing has become far too common in connection with certain towns in England, who have not known the historic past of Wigan."

Seven of the day trippers from Wigan who made their way to Hull for a jolly but ended up drunk and disorderly ended up being fined. Robert Dowhans, John Dutton, William Aspinall, James Murphy, E. Marsh, William Kennedy, and Walter Holland were each fined 5s., including costs, at the Hull Police Court on the Monday after the match.

Major Judge, the presiding magistrate, described their conduct as disgraceful. Addressing the prisoners he said: "Last year on the occasion of the Wigan visit we had several of your people before us on the Monday morning. I saw some of the liquor which you brought from Wigan. The city was quite a pandemonium on Saturday night, and your whole conduct was discreditable. It is fine sport coming from Wigan to visit a police court. We had looked to you to show a better example."

Some things never change 110 years on, eh?