Ahead of Castleford Tigers' Tetley's Challenge Cup match at Batley Bulldogs on Sunday, Castleford Rugby League Players Associations' Geoff Smith delved into the archives to find out a little bit more about our hosts and their Head Coach, John Kear.
When the Northern clubs made the break from Rugby Union, Batley were one of the leading outfits and became the first ever winners of the Challenge Cup in 1897 before successfully defending the trophy the following season.
Those early years saw great times for the ‘Gallant Youths' as they won the Challenge Cup for the third time in 1901.
The 1923/24 season saw Batley finish second in the league and top the Yorkshire League. In the top four play-off, they beat Oldham to qualify for the Championship Final and two tries for Herbert Murray helped Batley beat Wigan and they became League Champions - something Castleford R.L.F.C has yet to achieve.
Batley used to share changing rooms with a cricket club and had to walk across the cricket field to enter the rugby pitch.
Batley's Head Coach, John Kear is an ex-Cas player and a winning Challenge Cup coach with Sheffield Eagles at Wembley and Hull FC at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. He was also a member of Malcolm Reilly's coaching team when Cas were Wembley winners in 1986.
John and his brother shared score board duties at Wheldon Road when school boys, while his father, Herbert, made five appearances for Castleford during the second World War.
Career appearances: 115 + 145
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