Len Ward was born and brought up opposite Castleford’s Wheldon Road ground but after his father was involved in a pit accident was sent to live with relatives in Devonshire Street, Keighley when aged 14. An all-round sportsman he tried his hand first at boxing but dissatisfied with that he moved to rugby league with local amateur side Keighley Athletic. His speed and deceptive side-step quickly took the eye of professional clubs and he was given trials matches with Huddersfield’s ‘A’ team before Tommy Holmes came in and snapped him up for Keighley in the 1944/45 season. Within a short time he had made the number 2 shirt his own and became a great crowd favourite who, shouting “Give it to Wardy”, urged the team to get the ball out to the wing to see one of Len’s incredible runs.
Len went on to play for Keighley 336 times scoring 139 tries. He represented Yorkshire on five occasions between 1949 and 1951 and was seriously considered for the Great Britain touring team of Australia in 1950. It is said that with a more fashionable club he would have been considered for more honours. Ward’s only other honour was as a member of Keighley’s Yorkshire Cup runners-up team in 1951. Len inspired another Keighley great, Terry Hollindrake, who modelled himself of ‘Wardy’s’ amazing jinking runs.
In words from Len’s benefit brochure, ‘His speed, side-step, cheerfulness and sportsmanship have earned him the respect of friend and foe alike. He has scored many wonderful tries, and few will forget his wonderful effort on Boxing Day 1952 when his superb try against Bradford Northern gave Keighley a totally unexpected revenge for a trouncing they had received at the hands of the Odsal team the previous day. Len deserves all the honour that Keighley can give him. “Give it to Wardy” has long been a sort of local slogan’.
After his playing career finished Len put his experience back into the game and stayed at Lawkholme coaching the ‘A’ team. Len is still winning trophies today this time in the more sedate game of Crown Green Bowls.
Roy Sabine had been putting in some outstanding performances in for amateurs Low Moor as well as playing for Yorkshire Amateurs and captaining the English amateur under 19 side. Not surprisingly he came to the attention of many professional clubs and in fact had signed for trials with Halifax. Keighley Chairman John Smallwood, tipped off by Sabine’s neighbour Bill Shreeve, arranged a meeting with Roy and snapped him up right away from under the nose of Halifax. Sabine scored a try on his debut in September 1958 against a Castleford side featuring fellow debutante, Alan Hardisty. In the next game away at Halifax Roy scored a hat-trick of tries in the 22-9 victory over the Thrum Hallers underlining to Halifax what they had missed out on. During the next eight seasons, mostly at stand-off but a few times at centre, Roy played in 179 matches scoring 46 tries.
His career for Keighley, however, was interrupted by National Service in the Army in which Roy played for the Duke Of Wellington’s regimental team who became Army champions two years running. After his return to Lawkholme and the 13-a-side code Roy became an integral part of the 1962-3 Division Two promotion winning side.
He made two appearances for Yorkshire in 1963, one of them against the Australian touring team in which Roy sustained an injury that cost him his Great Britain call up against the Aussies. Further Injury ended Roy’s playing career at Keighley in 1966 retiring on doctor’s orders. Roy, however returned to the club in 1975 as coach with the colts but playing in a further eight games for the first team. Moving up to coach the first team he went on to take the club to the memorable Challenge Cup semi-final at Fartown in 1976 when Keighley lost to the eventual winners St.Helens. Roy finally left the club in October 1977.
The only player ever to wear a Keighley shirt and gain the epithet ‘legendary’ was the great but tragic half-back Harry Myers. He was born in 1875 at Horsforth and played first for Bramley with such distinction that he was selected for the Yorkshire side who won the rugby union County Championship going on to wear county colours 28 times. When Bramley opted to join the Northern Union in 1895 Harry left the club, hoping to further his International career at union. Keighley moved in quickly for for him and he joined us in 1897 becoming inspirational in the club’s success winning the Yorkshire number 2 competition that year. In 1897 Harry became the only Keighley player ever to play for England at Union. When lack of decent competition forced Keighley to join the Northern Union in 1900 Harry decided to stay at Lawkholme captaining the club to the second division championship in 1902-3. Playing at Crown Flatt, Dewsbury in November 1906 Harry went into a tackle with forward Fred Richardson and collapsed with a terrible back injury. He was transferred to Keighley’s Victoria Hospital where, bravely facing up to his injury, he died six weeks later. Over 1,000 mourners attended his funeral on 23rd. December 1906 at Utley Cemetery where a new gravestone was added shortly after his inclusion into the Hall of Fame by collections on the evening and a generous donation from his granddaughter.
‘Rammy’ is without doubt the most consistent player in the 1990 Cougar era. Described by many as ‘the best number 9 outside Superleague’ he is the son of renowned Featherstone and Halifax player, Terry Ramshaw. He came from an impressive four seasons at Halifax in 1992 as part of Peter Roe’s building of the great team on 1992-3 and has been an important part of the club ever since. From acting half-back he has been able to create many tries and try scoring opportunities as well as having an eye for the drop goal. He has gained two Championship medals and made two Premiership appearances with Cougars. Latterly as club captain he has led the club both on and off the pitch. I don’t think it’s stretching a point to say that without him there might be no Cougars today. With his experience, vast knowledge and qualifications in the game there surely is a great future for Jason.
Paul Moses was a soccer fanatic as a child but when neighbour and Bradford Northern scrum-half Geoff Shutt was asked by Paul’s dad to show him the skills of rugby league he never looked back. He began his rugby league career first at the Central Youth Club coached by Peter Roe and Joe Bardgett and then Keighley Albion under 17’s before going down to Keighley in 1978 as part of the re-formed Colts team receiving guidance from boyhood hero Brian Jefferson and Terry Hollindrake. Despite finding some fine prospects the colts team folded and Halifax RLFC came in for the pick of the talent including Paul. After several solid performances for Halifax Colts he progressed to the ‘A’ team making such an impression that he finally signed for the Thrum Hallers in 1981 making his first team debut the following year and becoming a regular in the first team in 1983-4 being voted runner-up in the player of the year awards. Shortly after Halifax, under a new regime, signed a host of Australian players and put many of it’s English players on the transfer list. Paul decided to return to his roots at Keighley, initially on loan but later becoming a permanent and indispensable member of the first team at scrum-half and later as hooker.
The next turn in Paul’s career saw him trying his hand in Queensland, Australia with the Ingham Life Savers Club in 1987 and 1988. He returned to Keighley in 1988 playing through a very lean spell at the club until in 1991 ‘Cougarmania’ took off with Peter Roe guiding the team to the Third Division Championship in 1992-3, a season in which Paul played a big part with 21 appearances, 9 of them as sub and scoring 7 tries. In the subsequent seasons, as his playing career was reaching an end, Paul’s appearances became fewer but whenever called on to play he always gave one hundred percent. He was awarded a testimonial season 1995 and later moved to help John Kain coaching Cougars ‘A’ team. He left Keighley after making 205 appearances scoring 35 tries, 17 goals and 37 drop-goals.
Putting his immense knowledge back into the amateur game Paul moved to Silsden Park Rangers as player /coach and then on to Keighley Albion in their first National Conference season.
Paul is in an unique position of being part of Keighley teams that have reached the highs and the lows including a forgetable 92-2 defeat by Leigh in 1986. But Paul once said, “I was there to be counted”, which says a lot about a truly outstanding, honest and reliable player who stuck with the team through the lean years deservedly enjoying success towards the end of his professional career. As his boyhood hero Brian Jefferson once said, “People often talk about the ‘model professional’ but it is surely epitomised in Paul Moses”.
Brian Jefferson played rugby league as a schoolboy in Leeds but later went on to play rugby union for Moortown quickly progressing to play for the Yorkshire County side.
He was watched by many top professional league sides but after being contacted by Keighley’s scout Geoff Beadnall moved to Lawkholme and made his league debut as a trialist named ‘Johnson’ in 1965 for Keighley against Halifax kicking three goals and creating one try. Keighley’s then coach Harry Street was amazed at Brian’s continental style boots and that he could kick goals at all with such footwear. Over the next thirteen seasons Brian, first at stand-off and then on the wing and at full-back, was the shining light at Lawkholme with his dependable goal-kicking and polished, pin-point tactical kicks to touch. Another feature of Brian’s game was his deadly high ‘bombs’ which often turned defence into attack and provided the team with many try-scoring opportunities as well as confining the opposition in their own half. Combined with this was his ability to score a drop-goal from virtually anywhere, from any angle and in the 1973-4 season he kicked 34 of these.
Brian made seven appearances for the Yorkshire Rugby League County side making one International appearance in 1968 for England against Wales though if he had played for a more fashionable club there would undoubtedly have been many more. Brian had the opportunity to move to other bigger clubs including Castleford but turned them all down. Brian explains, “The years I played here were absolutely tremendous. I enjoyed my rugby and we had great supporters. They can’t take that away from you”.
Brian’s 967 goals and 2,116 points in 300 games for the club between 1965 and 1977 are a career record at Keighley.
In 1977 a recurring knee injury brought his career to an end but he went on to put his experience back into the club coaching the successful colts side.
Brian Smith, who rates Brian as Keighley’s best ever full-back, writing in Jefferson’s testimonial brochure, summed him up, “If my life depended on someone kicking a rugby ball to land on a given spot I wouldn’t hesitate to choose Brian Jefferson for the task”.