Lawkholmers to Cougars - A Rugby League History

The meeting at which the club was formed was held on October 17, 1876
under the Presidency of the Rev. F. Marriner. Mr J. Bailey was appointed
treasurer, and Mr. Wall Jun., secretary. A committee was elected and it was
reported that Mr. E. Holmes had allowed the club the use of a field in
Lawkholme Lane.
The first kick-off took place on Saturday afternoon, October 21st and the
committee met again on October 24th and decided to adopt Association
and Rugby Union rules. Several new members were proposed and elected;
it was announced there would be a practice every Saturday at 2.30p.m. and
that the subscriptions for playing members would be 5 shillings, and for
junior members under 15 years, 1 shilling.
Such was the humble way in which Keighley founded its first premier
footballing organisation. But the club was not long in getting together a
side, and it was November 18th 1876, when the first game took place at
Lawkholme. The visitors were Crosshills and although the game ended in a
draw, there are records, which say, "the draw was in the visitors favour".
The first really important match appears to have been played on January
13th 1877, when Bingley were entertained. In the somewhat complicated
scoring system of the day the visitors ran out winners by two tries and two
touchdowns to two touchdowns.
A return game a fortnight later again saw Keighley overthrown, but as though they
did not seem to be convinced about Bingley's superiority a third match was
arranged, and this time Keighley fared better, scoring one touchdown against
Bingley's two.
At the first annual meeting of the club it was reported that receipts had amounted to
£8 16shillings and the expenditure to £6 4 shillings and 9 pence. Membership stood
at 49. Certainly that first year of activity by the Keighley club was not in the days of
high football finance.
But at least the club was on the way, though perhaps few of those early founder
members would have dared to gamble on it surviving for a hundred years and more.
One of the earliest games of the following season was a fixture with Kildwick on
October 13th 1877 when Keighley won by one goal to five touchdowns. Keighley's
team that day was A. H. Rishworth (Capt.) and A. E. Sale (backs); E. Laycock and
J. Craven (threequarters); J. R. Wilson and W. H. Clapham (halfbacks); T. Wall, H.
Wall, J. W. Darling, C. H. Foulds, H. Summerscales, W. Clapham, J. Ramsden, F.
Rishworth and T. Butterfield (forwards).


The team formation seems just as confusing as the system of scoring, but from the
players it seems evident that they were recruited locally. There are certainly some
good old Keighley names among that lot.
Other teams met during that second season were Bradford Zingari, Manningham,
Cleckheaton, Leeds Athletic, Skipton and Bradford Juniors. And up to April 1878
Keighley and Bingley had met seven times – and Keighley had lost on each and
every occasion.
At the annual meeting of the club in 1878, shortly after the headquarters
had been moved to Dalton Lane, it was decided to form a second fifteen,
and as evidence that the social side of the Organisation was not lacking it
was decided there should be a trip to Bolton Woods in place of the usual
October 27th 1879, saw the formation of a rival club in the town, Keighley Athletic.
There was some petty jealousy among those responsible for setting up the new
club, but within a couple of years differences had been settled, and on March 24th
1881 amalgamation was decided upon.
Some forceful words by the president (Mr. Joseph Summerscales) had a
wonderfully inspiring effect, for the indirect result was that in March 1882, the team
figured in the Yorkshire cup-ties for the first time. They met Wakefield Trinity who
were one of the top sides.
During that year a match with Hunslet was played under Association rules and
drawn – probably the only Association game ever played by the town's club.
Keighley officially joined the Rugby Union on Tuesday, April 8th 1879, and the
following year, in a match at Bingley, there was a peculiar incident. A report of the
game states that Bradbury attempted a drop at goal, but the ball passed under the
crossbar, and Bairstow, following up, touched down.
Bingley would not concede the try, alleging that the player who obtained it was
offside, and on their refusing to allow the ball to be brought out, the home players
left the field and the game was unfinished.
By the end of season 1881 the membership of the club was 80 – ten being honorary
members and 70 playing members. In 1882-83 "the team had a most successful
experience". Gate receipts reached £58 and the expenditure £32.