Keighley Cougars News

Keighley Cougars News

The Keighley Cougars are a professional rugby league team based in the West Yorkshire market town of Keighley, close to the city of Bradford, that are one of the most historic rugby clubs in the world.

The club were one of the most successful sides at embracing the new summer era in the 1990’s but since then things have been up and down for the club.

Despite all of that, the historic club have continued to represent their community and have won awards for their community outreach work but despite all of that, the club are often overlooked in even local media.

That makes it a frustrating experience for fans to keep up to date with all things Keighley Cougars.

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The club have played at the same stadium since 1889 and on the same site since there formation way back in 1876.

In the very early days, it was just a field before it was developed into a stadium known as Lawkholme Lane between 1899-1995 and since then it has been known as Cougar Park.

Currently the ground has a capacity a little under 8,000 and features one main grandstand.


The cougars are based in the market town of Keighley, which is an outer borough of the city of Bradford, in the county of West Yorkshire.

That puts the club on the northern edges of the sports heartlands in England.


The Cougars are one of the most historic rugby league clubs in the world who gone through many ups and downs throughout that history.

The club have really embraced the summer era and their Cougar branding but they have also kept lots of traditions alive.

That includes there green, red and white colour scheme and their historic rivalry with near neighbours, the Bradford Bulls.


The club were formed way back in 1876 and started to play on Holmes’ field on Lawkholme Lane where they would originally paly both rugby football and association football.

There first ever game was against Crosshills and by 1878, the club was split into two separate teams but they would merge by 1881.

Keighley would officially join the RFU in 1879 and by the mid 1880’s, they would become one of the strongest clubs in the region.

In 1885, they merged with the towns cricket club and developed a ground at Lawkholme Lane and towards the end of the century they would become one of the strongest RFU sides in Yorkshire after most others have led the breakaway of the Northern Union.

It didn’t take long for Keighley to jump ship however as they would turn to rugby league in April 1900, where just 2 days after the switch to the Northern Union they would play, and lose, to Manningham in the first ever rugby league game at Lawkholme Lane.

In 1902, the club joined the newly formed 2nd division but after a run of 27 wins from 34 games, they were soon promoted to the top flight.

Up until the outbreak of the first world war, the club developed a reputation as a cup specialist team, but the war hit them hard and after struggling for players, the club signed 6 form the Furness district competition for the 1921 season.

The 1930’s was a good decade for the club as after signing kiwi half back Ted Spillane, their crowds started to grow, and they would invest in a new grandstand and other ground improvements.

This allowed for further investments in players and they would soon reach their first ever Challenge Cup final when in 1937 they faced off against Widnes but ultimately came up short.

In 1938, the club would spend 3 weeks at the top of the championship but that would be as good as it got as they soon dropped down the table as those big signings from earlier in the decade began to age.

As was the case with so many clubs, the 40’s saw the club decimated by the war and then them having to re-group but they found that even harder than most and by the mid 50’s, the club had major financial difficulties and every members of their board resigned.

A new board was installed, funding was raised, and the club changed colours from blue and white to red, white and green.

The club would buy their home ground in 1957 but the 60’s and 70’s would be a difficult time for the club as they would struggle along with little to show for their efforts.

That started to look like a positive by the mid 80’s however as the club were racked with debts and found themselves relying on using trialists just to complete matches.

In the 83-84 season the club used 54 players whilst in 84-85 they used 53 including 31 debutants.

In light of the Taylor Report and with the club already owing money to the Inland Revenue, they were forced into selling the cricket pitch next to the ground and also their training ground and results during this period were amongst the biggest on record including a 92-2 loss at Leigh.

The ground itself was the next to be sold, with the co-op taking over and leasing it back to the club but thankfully for the club, by the ate 80’s they started to improve on the field and in 1991 with the club almost as low as you can go, the club looked to an improved future.

This was brought about by a new board of Mick O’Neil, Mike Smith and Neil Spencer who re-branded the club as the Keighley Cougars and renamed their ground as Cougar Park.

The club invested in marketing, brought in quality additions to the playing and coaching side and in turn that led to improved performance and bigger crowds in a period now known as ‘Cougarmania’.

The club would then go full time, investing their ground and would win the 2nd division in the 1994-95 season but unfortunately they would be denied entry into the newly formed Super League.

That would be a huge blow to the club and fans would be put off and there would be a huge change off the field with a new owner coming out of the blue and the remnants of Cougarmania disappeared.

The new owner put forward a plan to change their name to the Pennine Cougars and move to Turf Moor in Burnley but after making lots of promises of big spending, he would soon sell all the club’s best players and put the club in administration- he would be arrested soon after for drug offenses.

Since that period, the club have found themselves flitting between the 2nd and 3rd tiers of the league and in 2009, they would once again have financial difficulties, which would lead to administration.

In 2022, the club would have one of their most successful seasons for some time and gain promotion to the 2nd tier after winning the 3rd division.

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