Ned Bullough

Ned Bullough was a fine forward for Wigan during the 1880s and 90s. He has a stat attached to him that no other Wigan player can boast of, that being the only Wigan player to have England Rugby Union Caps.

He was actually Welsh! Born in North Wales on 17 December, 1866. His parents left Wales when he was just five years old and moved to Haigh. In time he would be connected to the Haigh Schools team and later graduate down Haigh Road to the Aspull Club.

Bullough made his Wigan debut actually as a fullback against Kendal Hornets on 13th October, 1888. He played again as a fullback a week later away at Widnes and gradually moved to the three-quarter line - a position in which he was used to with Aspull and Haigh.

Once December 1888 came, Wigan had found a starting fullback in Pilkington, and with Jack Anderton returning to the Club after being involved with Salford and an Anglo-Australian Tour, Bullough moved into the forward pack, a position in which he was looking forward to playing.

During the coming seasons, Bullough would form a formidable partnership with fellow Lancashire County player Billy Atkinson, Tom Brayshay and Jack Lowe, amongst others. His performances would catch the eye of the Lancashire selectors and indeed by the following year, Bullough had gained his first Cap for the Red Rose against Yorkshire on 23rd November. He and Atkinson would regularly play for Lancashire from then on. A crowd favourite for his no-nonsense style of play, and quiet demeanor, leaves Ned being one of the finest players Wigan had during our early period.

With Wigan, he won 2 West Lancashire Cups and 3 Wigan Union Charity Cups (along with his haul from Aspull).


Cap Bullough would have worn

It was common for players to wear the honorary caps during matches. Ned was no exception. They were crowd pullers and people talked about them! This Cap is from JHP Strang, a fellow rugby player for Lancashire, with Bullough wearing the same Cap in the photo (colourised) on the left. A Lancashire County photo from 1891 is included at the bottom of this page.

In a game against Halifax in 1892, a week after playing for England against Scotland (his third and final England Cap) bullough played the match wearing his England Rugby union jersey, to the delight of all in attendance.

The following is taken from an article in the Manchester Examiner of September 1892.

No player who ever donned the Lancashire County jersey, to say nothing of an International jersey, has seen more grades of football than has 'Ned' Bullough, and it redounds greatly to his credit that after many wanderings he has succeeded in reaching the goal of ambition of all Rugbyites - namely, a place in the English team.

Time was when Bullough was truly described as the 'man of many clubs', and in the middle of his career he displayed a tendency for rambling up and down which foreboded ill for his future success. Unlike others who have gained the highest honours, they have not fallen to Bullough by any influence derived from playing with town clubs, and it is a fact, from which he can draw much satisfaction, that he has finally made a great name for himself by exhibitions of form mainly given on his native heath.

Continuing in the usual orthodox manner, Bullough was born on December 17, 1866, and at the present moment is possessed of a wonderfully fine physique, as demonstrated by the information that he stands 5ft 10.5in., and weighs 12st 10lb., being a grand specimen of a footballer. It was in 1882 that he evinced a desire to gain fame at the rugby game, and started operations with the old Haigh Schools Club, with which organisation he played with fair success as a three-quarter for five years, scoring over 70 tries.

In 1886-7 he joined Aspull, acting as sub-captain, playing in the same position as three-quarter, and again proving prolific in scoring, as instanced by his scoring 27 tries in one season, and this had a lot to do the club winning the West Lancashire Cup. Owing to the Aspull Club having to find a fresh field he left them, and then commenced his ramblings, which at the time gave rise to a lot of comment in Lancashire Rugby circles. Swinton was one of the clubs which got occasional assistance from him, and he created surprise by journeying to and fro in the neighbourhood of Oldham.

The season of 1888-9 saw him joining Wigan, still continuing to play as a three-quarter, but he had long wanted to get among the forward division, and in November of the season under notice he had his wish ratified, and appeared as a scrimmager against Mossley. Since that time he has kept his position as one of the Wigan nine, and has played with an amount of success known to all who follow the game.

At the beginning of the 1889-90 his fame as a forward had spread considerably, and although he did not get a place against Cheshire he played against Yorkshire at Bradford on November 23rd, 1889, when the latter won by a goal to nothing; and he played in all the following matches of that season. His career the following year was of a rather fluctuating character, for after he had played against Cheshire he was dropped, along with several other forwards, this being due to the fact that the Lancashire front division had made an awful show in the match which was played at Birkenhead Park.

Not for long, as it happened, was Bullough lying on the shelf, for he got his place again in the match against Devon, and afterwards against Ulster in March, and, strange to say, he only entered into this contest from the reserve. What a lucky thing this being called upon proved is easily seen when it is said his exhibition was so good that he was given his place against Gloucester, and was further called upon to play against the Rest of England. Since then he has never looked behind him.

In December 1891, he played for the North against the South at Newcastle, being fortunate enough to score, and on the 2nd January, 1892, he crowned all his efforts by appearing in the English fifteen which opposed Wales at Blackheath. On this occasion he was one of the most prominent men on the field, and it was only natural he should figure against Ireland, and for the Rest of England against Yorkshire at Leeds. The last-named match was a very critical one, for the English Rugby Union had been none too favourably impressed by the displays of their men against Wales and Ireland, and it was somewhat of a "toss-up" who would be lucky enough to get in the greatest of all the year's contests, namely, that against Scotland. The selections were awaited with more than the usual amount of interest, and when the list issued from the Committee room Bullough's name was on it, and he thus figured amongst the eight players who had gained a place in all three matches. How Bullough performed at Raeburn Place in the Scottish match can easily be seen by a reference to the papers of the time, and here it need only be said that he certainly was one of the three most prominent men on his side.

Apart form the matches already dealt with, Bullough has gone through any other exciting contests, and has been on the winning side in the final for the West Lancashire Cup three times (once with Aspull, twice Wigan). But even this is very little compared with the fact that he assisted to carry off the Wigan Charity Cup five times, and to those who have never seen a final in this competition, it is altogether useless trying to describe the amount of interest arouses.

There is every reason to believe that Bullough would have met with considerable success as a runner had he had more time in which to train, and as it was he proved fairly successful in what few events he participated in. Of his merits as a player much can be said, but as his prowess has been fairly detailed as above it only remains to say a little as to his style. One description of him reads as follows: "A strong, fast player, does his fair share of work all round, and is always in good condition; never far away from the front row of the forwards".

Personally, Bullough, who is in the employ of the Haigh Brewery Company, is a very smart sort of fellow, having a good address with him, and is very convivial company. He has a lot of that real grit about him which makes an occasional conversation very enjoyable, and if he is not lucky enough to catch the eye of authorities in future, he has past record which will serve to be pleasing to look back upon in after life.

Ned Bullough (front, far left) with the Lancashire team. His partner in crime Billy Atkinson is sat to the right of the famous Swintonian Jim Valentine (with ball)

Before the 1892-93 season, Bullough, along with fellow Lancashire forward Billy Atkinson, received a 'valuable' pipe from the Wigan Club as a token of respect held to each of them, along with their long overdue Wigan Charity Cup medals from the 1890/91 season.

Bullough for England

Bullough (stood hands on hips) looking magnificent in his England attire in a match against Scotand at Edinburgh, March 1892.

The famous Dickie Lockwood of Dewsbury and fellow Lancastrian and occasional helper-outer of Wigan, Tom Coop of Leigh.

In all Bullough gained three Caps for England:

2nd Jan 1892 v Wales

6th Feb 1892 v Ireland

5th March 1892 v Scotland

Above, Ned Bullough against Scotland. He's in the thick of the action centre of the pile (above the Scotsman with the skull cap) pointy elbow.

Well done Ned, you are a Champion and played for Wigan. Thankyou.