Fans and supporters of 11 Super League clubs laughed and smiled with glee, as Wigan conceded 145 points in the space of two games during the 2005 season.
Ian Millward had replaced Denis Betts as head coach, after he was sacked by St Helens for three separate counts of gross misconduct. The Saints fans protested against his sacking, but Millward’s reputation of turning round teams preceded him, and Maurice Lindsay had no concerns bringing him in.
The Warriors were having their worst season in the Super League era, and at the mid way point of the season were in serious danger of relegation.
Millward’s first game in charge was a 34-20 win over Salford, but had lost the next two at home to London and Hull FC.
Their club record loss to Leeds of 70-0 looked to be a one off, as Millward had a small selection of players to choose from due to injury and suspension.
But while that record loss may have hurt the travelling Wigan supporters, the following week’s Challenge Cup loss would be much worse.
Wigan travelled to Knowlsey Road for a highly anticipated quarter final tie. The Warriors had lost the last three matches, but little did they know it would be four and their second record loss in consecutive weeks.
Ian Millward was given an exceptionally warm reception for a Wigan coach. The fans’ support of Millward was still evident despite his departure to their rivals. New coach Daniel Anderson had been welcomed to Knowsley Road despite the fans’ unrest, and Saints were yet to lose a game under his control going into this game.
Good news for Wigan was that Sean Long had broken his wrist during training earlier in the week, but it was little consolation for the Wigan faithful.
On the field Wigan began the game worse than they started the previous week. A 35-0 half time lead to Saints gave the Wigan supporters a sense of déjà vu, and they were in for another thrashing.
Mark Edmondson scored a hat trick and was supported by two tries from Nick Fozzard. Lee Gilmour, Vinnie Anderson and Jason Hooper all added to the score board early on. Hooper scored early before leaving the field with a shoulder injury which would leave him out of the side for six weeks.
A second consecutive club record defeat could not keep Wigan out of the headlines. It was the lowest point in the famous club’s history, but was the catalyst for change at the JJB Stadium.
Wigan eventually avoided relegation comfortably, but ended the season on a sour note by not only missing out of the play offs, but having Terry Newton banned for ten matches going into the next season.
Wigan’s defeat by St Helens in September of that year saw Newton deliberately injure Darren Albert and Sean Long. Albert was stretchered off with concussion, while Long left the field with damage to his check bone and eye socket.
Proof, if any were needed, there was no love lost between the two sides despite having contrasting seasons.