Rugby veteran claims his team inspired Wigan's Boxing Day tradition

Artist Anna FC Smith with Frank Morgan, of Wigan RUFC
Artist Anna FC Smith with Frank Morgan, of Wigan RUFC

A Wigan sporting stalwart claimed his rugby union team invented the town’s now-famous Boxing Day fancy dress tradition.

Frank Morgan, who has a decades-long association with Wigan RUFC, says it was the Colts team he ran which started the idea of heading around town in costume just after Christmas in the late ‘70s.

Mr Morgan, from Standish, says the club would hold a very popular fancy dress event on December 26 at its Wingates Road base to raise money for the Easter tours, normally to south Wales.

The younger party-goers would then head into Wigan town centre, still in costume.

Mr Morgan contacted the Observer after artist Anna FC Smith asked for people’s views on the origins of the custom, which has made global news headlines in recent years, for one of her latest projects.

Mr Morgan, 76, said: "Everybody used to come to the disco from all over town. They were fantastic events.

"The younger ones would come to our disco until about midnight then they would all fire off round all the clubs, still in their fancy dress.

"Funnily enough we were talking about this recently when my son’s wife said her mother used to come to the club’s discos. I’m really proud of it. It’s unique to Wigan."

Anna says she has uncovered a whole array of interesting traditions involving Wiganers getting into costume around Boxing Day, stressing there may not be a single explanation for today’s custom.

Other stories include Wigan and Leigh Hospice supporters fund-raising in fancy dress in Poolstock on Boxing Day and performers and fans of the fun pubs such as Henry Afrika’s going out after festive shows in their gear.

Anna said: "The rugby union explanation does make sense as a lot of people have talked vaguely about it being linked to local sport.

"I’ve found numerous groups doing fancy dress around Christmas time in the late ‘70s. Folk phenomena can have multiple starting points, which then feed together."

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