Fawcett proud after Readers Poll triumph

Keighley Cougars chairman Gary Fawcett has thanked League Express readers after his club picked up two awards in the Readers Poll.

The Cougars were named Club of the Year after their classy and compassionate response to the tragic death of Danny Jones, while head coach Paul March was named Coach of the Year after taking Keighley to within one game of promotion despite all of the adversity.

It was news that delighted Fawcett after the club’s difficult year.

“These awards were decided by the people that matter,” said Fawcett.

“They watch Rugby League week in, week out and everyone at the club is flattered. I do think everyone at the club deserves the two awards. Not many coaches across the world have had to deal with what Marchy has and the club as a whole, right down to the cleaner and up to the chief executive have been very professional and acted with compassion following the disaster that happened to us in May.

“It’s a big thank you from us to the Rugby League fraternity and I think it is well deserved from everybody at the club.”

Fawcett revealed that the club have had a catalogue of new volunteers sign up at the club throughout the year, and Fawcett believes it is a sign of the strength within the Rugby League community.

“In the face of adversity we had more people offering to volunteer and the existing volunteers putting in more hours than they did before. It just shows how people respond. Internally, we’ve got stronger over the last year.

“I’ve got one new volunteer who has been a lifelong fan since he was six years old, he’s retired now but makes the trip to the ground to clean it three times a week.

“We’ve got another new volunteer who is an ex-manager at a paint company and he keeps getting paint volunteered by Manor Coatings in Shipley and basically organises for the ground to be touched up.”

There was also an award handed out to a member of Keighley’s 2016 playing squad. Ritchie Hawkyward was voted as the League One Player of the Year after helping Swinton to promotion, ironically in a play-off final victory over the Cougars, but Fawcett is hopefully the fullback can now guide his club back to the Championship.

“I was really excited when I found out Ritchie was available,” he said.

“There was a few positions I felt we needed to strengthen and fullback was one of them. Marchy said the other day he was the best fullback outside Super League, and I’d certainly say he’s the best player in League One.

“We went from third favourites to favourites with the bookies after signing the Hawkyard brothers. I just hope that they are the missing links to get us to the Championship next year.”