|Secretary: Mike Parker|
|League Representative: Keith Robinson|
|1st Team Captain: Steven Reape|
|2nd Team Captain: Adam Catlow|
Division One Champions: 1919 1946
Keighley Cricket Club was formed in 1848 playing at Dalton Lane, but they were constituted in 1855, moving to their current home at Lawkholme Lane in 1869. After enjoying championship success in the West Yorkshire League and the West Riding League in the 1890s, they moved into the Yorkshire Council in 1900. Key players included prolific scoring batsman Arthur Sellers, father of future Yorkshire captain Brian, and wicketkeeper Arthur Dolphin, who went on to become the only Keighley product to win a Test cap.
Initially, the club resisted joining the Bradford League because the powers-that-be of the day felt that ‘the flavour of professionalism was too pronounced.’ How ironic, therefore, that within three years of joining the league, they should lift their first championship in 1919 with the sort of star-studded line-up that would not have looked out of place at Lord’s.
The leading star was legendary Kent all-rounder Frank Woolley, still the second highest scoring batsman of all time in first class cricket behind Jack Hobbs and the most prolific catcher. In those war-time days they boasted other Test players such as Jack Hearne (Middlesex) and Schofield Haigh (Yorkshire) and established county men like local product Emmott Robinson (Yorkshire) and Willis Walker, who spent 25 years with Nottinghamshire and 14 years as a Football League goalkeeper with a number of clubs, including Leeds City and Sheffield United. His name lives on in the town even today through the sports shop he founded. No wonder they pulled in the crowds. The official attendance for one match against a Saltaire side which included the legendary S. F. Barnes was 4,897.
The 1919 title-winning side lost just once in 20 games. Woolley took 47 wickets at 8.97 to finish second to SF Barnes in the averages while he also averaged 45 with the bat. The bulk of the runs came from Herbert Haigh. His 800 run haul included two centuries and ten fifties.
The post-war resumption of county cricket had an inevitable effect on Keighley, and many other sides who also lost star players, but they still finished runners-up in 1921 and 1922 and won the Priestley Cup for the first time in 1921, beating Saltaire (Barnes et all) by nine wickets in the Park Avenue final which still claims the world record attendance for club cricket of 14,179.
It was the one time in nine years that Barnes failed. Herbert Haigh was the Keighley hero taking five for 34 as Saltaire were dismissed for 157 and hitting 70 not out as they eased to a nine wicket win. Alex Skelding, who was later to become the Harold Bird of his day as an eccentric post-war umpire after long county service with Leicestershire, was an opening bowler in the Lawkholme side then, while making an impact later in the decade was a young Brian Sellars. He went on to be the outstanding captain of Yorkshire’s great side of the 1930s.
While they had Priestley Cup success in 1932 and 1935 after defeating Bowling Old lane and Great Horton respectively, Keighley’s league record was modest for a long spell, but they finished third in 1934, thanks largely to recruiting S. F. Barnes. Despite being then 61, he took 76 wickets, including an eight for nine tally against champions Bradford.
Arguably the club’s greatest decade was soon to dawn. The Second World War meant many county players were available for league cricket and the crowds flocked to Lawkholme, primarily to see the diminutive Lancashire and England left-hander Eddie Paynter, who promptly re-wrote the record books. Runs flowed from his bat through the forties. In 1942 he scored nine 50s, including seven in succession, and three centuries, failing to reach 50 in only three innings for a staggering average of 138.55. Not surprisingly, Keighley finished as Division B champions.
They were league champions again in 1946 by one point from Yeadon, and Priestley Cup winners in 1948 after a marathon, high-scoring final, against Salts, which almost inevitably featured an unbeaten Paynter century. Paynter made 124 not out as Keighley made 326 for five while Salts made 325 all out.
Other stars in the 1940s included Paynter’s fellow Lancastrian Winston Place, who made a club record 172 at Brighouse in 1940, and England and Gloucestershire spinner Tom Goddard, who had a four-in-four feat in 1945.
As the golden era of Paynter faded, Keighley turned to veteran West Indian pace bowler Manny Martindale as player-coach. He left his mark by luring the 1950 tourists (Worrall, Weekes, Walcott, Ramadin and co) for a memorable match and helped to win the Second Division title in 1951. But relegation followed immediately and top section status proved elusive throughout the 1950s and 1960s, when most of the club’s success was achieved by the second team, which won five successive titles from 1962.
In 1962 four Keighley players made a clean sweep of the top league prizes – Jack Greenwood (batting), Derek Stow (bowling), Gerry Greenwood (wicketkeeping) and Stuart Wilson (fielding). Stow had already booked his place in the club’s history in 1957 by achieving their first all-ten feat in the league (ten for 25 against Great Horton).
Former England footballer Mike Hellawell was a leading light as the 1960s dawned, and while a thrilling a two-wicket Priestley Cup triumph against Bowling Old Lane in 1961 was a welcome fillip, the club had to wait until 1976 for real celebration with Division Two titles for both club teams, plus Priestley Shield success.
The progress of Peter Hartley and Phil Robinson to county status gave the club great satisfaction in the 1980s, which featured a long-awaited Priestley Cup final appearance in 1984 and another Division Two title in 1988. Stalwart opening bowler John Roberts left his mark with a ten for 43 return in 1985 against East Bierley.
Promotion was short lived, but Keighley celebrated a rise again in 1993, a season marked by home grown Paul Spragg scoring 1,149 runs and overtaking Paynter’s record from 1940. And, while the glory days of Woolley and Paynter remain elusive, perhaps the club’s biggest achievement in recent years has been to gain financial stability.
After many turbulent periods and an oft-strained relationship with their former rugby league
Keighley have since built on that platform. After twice narrowly missing out on promotion they won the Division Two championship in 2005 with Robinson again and Ross Towler playing leading roles. To crown an outstanding season for the club, the second team snatched promotion on the final day of the season too.