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.