Lancashire Cup 1909
Wigan had finished the 1908-09 season with four trophies to their name, making it one of the finest season's the club would ever have. Arguably, the greatest season. The only chink in James Leytham's armour was falling to Wakefield Trinity in the semi final of the Challenge Cup. With success brought new faces and new features for the Wigan club. The Central Park ground also had a bit of an upgrade in that a new swimming bath was excavated in the Pavilion for the use of the players at a cost of around £1,000. This was cutting edge! Lance Todd had returned home to New Zealand and would be unavailable to Wigan until the Christmas period whereas Johnny Thomas was looking for a new half-back partner, with Randall Davies being secured from Cardiff. His partner in 1908-09, Fred Gleave had ruptured cartilage in his knee so was of course absent.. With the absence of Todd in the centre partnering Joe Miller, Wigan turned to Harry Price who had made his debut in 1906 but was a stalwart of the A-Team.
As for Lance Todd, by mid-July he had got as far as Adelaide aboard the 's.s. Medic'. He wrote a letter to friends in Wigan suggesting that the game of rugby was alive and well down under but 'The Australian League is now, run as a very liberal amateur show; the players get nothing but good expenses'. This statement could only warm the hearts of Wiganers if they read between the lines.
In the pre-season practice matches, Joe Miller was partnered by A.N. Other in the centres, but did not wholly satisfy the committee or the six thousand spectators (who paid a small fee to watch with proceeds going to local charities). Davies did not shine. With a big money move from Cardiff, the Wigan committee could only persevere with picking him, whereas Naddy Ralph was playing well opposing Davies in those practice matches.
Not to worry though, the season was due to start against Hunslet on September 4th. A 13-3 home win didn't much excite the Wigan supporters who quickly surmised that the glories of the previous season were not to be repeated in the coming campaign. Any club would of course miss the talents of Todd. The Wigan crowd were quite satisfied by Randall Davies' performance in the absence of Gleave.
Then comes three league losses in the next four matches. a close loss to Wakefield Trinity, last years conquerors of Leytham's men in the Challenge Cup semi final; an away defeat to Oldham and a home loss to local rivals Leigh at Central Park
It was a full eleven years since Leigh had won at Central Park. 25,000 people witnessed the calamity that the Wigan players produced against he Leythers. No news was coming out of the club with regards to new players but the only hopes of regaining the form of a season past was that Naddy Jones was playing well in replace of Randall Davies in the halves and that Lance Todd will be sailing for England in a matter of days in early October.
A confidence boosting win away at Merthyr was a welcome warm-up before the Lancashire Cup competition got started a week later. There was a scare, however, that the score lines were not up to date along the telegraph wires. Rumours circulated outside tobacco shops (where people awaited telegrams and scores from away matches) that Wigan had failed to score, but this glitch was soon nullified.