Lawkholmers to Cougars - A Rugby League History

Saturday 19 th of November 1938
Keighley 21 – St.Helens Recs 2
Keighley Top Rugby League for first time

Since the big revival began on October 1932, the Keighley team has had quite a number of great and
glorious days. Next to the occasion that saw them at the 1937 Cup Final we would rate as the most
important last Saturday, for by defeating St Helens Recreation at Lawkholme, the team went to the head of
the Rugby League as the success coincided with the defeat of Widnes at Warrington.
There has been much speculation this week as to whether they have ever stood in such splendid isolation
before. Unless we go delving into the records, when Keighley won the Second Division Championship in
1902-3, we can find no parallel and for the first time since all the senior clubs were concentrated in one
division, Keighley are at the top, with at least one week of glory to hand on to posterity.
The victory gave the side its first “double” of the season and the margin of three goals and five tries (21
points) to one goal (two points) does not over estimate the inferiority of this Recreation side that had to take
the field without some of its prominent players, yet Keighley should have won by many more points. In the
first half hour the side attacked incessantly, and if the match had any amazing feature it was that at the end
of this period there had not been a solitary score. Time after time Keighley had attacked only to miss
scores in aggrevating fashion, and certainly it was not league leadership form.
And then came five minutes of real compensation. In the 31 st minute Idria Towill ran through the complete
“Recs” defence to score a try which was converted, exactly two minutes later Bevan rounded off a move
which added anoth five points, and when three minutes after that Towill did what he had done before, by
running straight through and with the goal being added again, Keighley were almost certain winners.
For these two tries alone Towill deserved to be ‘ Man of the Match’, and it was fitting as captain he should
have played such a conspicuous part on this great day. He was penetrative all the way through and with
Harrod injured before half-time and limping badly for the rest of the game, he had to supply most of the
home craft. Yet Harrod was always useful.
Sowden had a magnificent game, too – a game in which he shouldered a lot of responsibility. MacDonald
was occasionally dangerous but Bevan was not too good in his handling, though his tacking was superb.
Sherburn was never at ease, but Farrington was quite sound, though he had not a tithe of the work to do that
fell to his opposite number – Lythgoe.


A considerable measure of credit was due to the forwards – a strong, powerful set that met the challenge of
a younger pack with determination. Casewell was a great leader and Harris and Fuller were chief in
support. Jack Thornber was good at times but just a little faulty in his handling. Yet in the old side there
was a fine team spirit, and in any bouquets being showered upon the club in its new-found glory, that factor
must be acknowledge as having played an important part.
The Recs., mourning the absence of several well-known players, had few men of note. Lythgoe was a
perfectly sound and attractive fullback: Tracey was easily the pluckiest of their three-quarters, but the
halves were poor both in defence and attack. Their forward spirit lacked nothing in the way of enthusiasm:
Rowson, Rankin and Atherton being triers all the way through, but the co-operative spirit was not there,
and there was a marked absence of crafty moves and effective passing.
The first half tale has almost been told. For the best part of half-an-hour Keighley missed chance after
chance, and it was not until Towill’s first try that the try struck “leadership” form. Farrington kicked the
goal and then Keighley swept right ahead.
A move cleverly conceived saw Bevan crash over for another try, which Farrington again converted and
hardly had the applause ended before Towill went straight through again and Farrington’s goal enabled
Keighley to cross over 15 points to the good.


With the wind and slope Recs were expected to do better. And so they did. They launched several attacks
and got practical reward when Lythgoe kicked a penalty goal, but gradually they were thrust back and the
home forwards took a hand.
Casewell, with his huge frame, then scored Keighley’s fourth try from a Harrod pass, and eight minutes
from the end, he got the fifth – his 101 st – in Rugby League football in the same forceful fashion.
Farrington missed both the goal kicks, and this was an important game won in simple fashion.
During the game the crowd were kept posted as to what was happening at Warrington, and there was a
round of applause when, just before the end, a board was sent round intimating that with five minutes
remaining for play, Warrington were in from. And as they kept that lead, Keighley went to the top and the
side had a warm reception as they left the field.
The attendance was 6000 and the receipts £224.
KEIGHLEY:- Farrington, Sherburn, Towill, Bevan, Macdonald, Harrod, Sowden, Traill, Halliday, Fuller,
Casewell, Thornber, Harris.
ST HELENS RECREATION:- Lythgoe, Grandy, Prescott, Tracey, Large, Dixon E, Dixon H, ………,
Howard W, Rankin, Atherton, Howard F, Davies.
Referee:- Mr L Greenwood (Rochdale)