The Self-Isolation Chronicles: Keighley Cougars

1. They signed the American Gladiator winner for one game in the 1990s.

Wesley ‘Two Scoops’ Berry rose to fame as the winner of the first International Gladiators Series in 1995. The incredible athlete also jumped over a car, from a standing start, in his audition video for the show. This was at the same time as the height of Cougarmania, who signed him as a publicity stunt to play in a reserves game against Huddersfield. A healthy crowd turned out at Cougar Park, with the club also starting the trend of giving individual players theme tunes as they entered the field.

2. They once refused to finish a game over a disallowed try.

A year after they officially joined the Rugby Football Union, in 1879, Keighley abandoned a game over a disallowed try while playing against Bingley. In the match report, it states that a drop-goal was attempted by one Bradbury, but he instead fizzed the ball under the crossbar. Teammate Bairstow then followed up, and touched down for a try. Play was then halted it was alleged that Bairstow was offside. Keighley refused to carry on, left the field, and the game was never finished.

3. Nick Pinkney was the last Second Division player to feature for England at a World Cup.

Pinkney wasn’t the last player from the sport’s second-tier to play for England, that mantle falls to former Richie Myler who represented England in 2008 while at newly-promoted Salford City Reds. Pinkney was, however, the last player to represent England at the highest international stage, at the World Cup, doing so in 1995 where he played in semi-final win over Wales, as England lost the final to Australia and the winger was an unused substitute. Fellow Cougar Daryl Powell also featured in the World Cup that year, but Pinkney’s appearance later in the competition gives him the accolade. He had earned a fearsome reputation with Super League outsiders Keighley, scoring over 100 tries and becoming club record try-scorer, twice breaking their seasonal record for tries in consecutive years. He would later join Sheffield Eagles, in 1997, helping them to their historic Challenge Cup win against Wigan a year later.

4. They had 62 debutants in two years.

The club were in disarray after the 1983-1984 season, their worst results since the Second World War. They used a staggering 54 players in that season, including 31 debutants, as head coach Geoff Peggs had to almost exclusively rely on triallists. The club were unable to fulfil their fixture list, without doing so, and only registered seven wins and three draws in 34 games, with huge debts on top of that. The following season, the club had a further 53 players feature, again with the same number of debutants, as they improved their performances and finished a respectable 15th, given the mass player turnaround.

5. One of their players sadly died as a result of playing in a game, long before Danny Jones.

Of course, Jones’ tragic passing in 2015 while playing for the Cougars will go down as one of the most shocking moments in the modern era, but there is also a lesser-known tale of similar circumstances. In 1906, England international and Yorkshire representative Harry Myers was playing for the club in a game against Dewsbury. In the first-half, he received a loose ball and was sprinting towards the Dewsbury goal-line, when he collided with Fred Richardson, one of the Dewsbury forwards. Myers’ head and Richardson’s shoulder clashed, with the former being carried into the dressing room and subsequently taken to hospital. He was assessed as having severe spinal injuries and was in fact suffering from paralysis. He lost the ability to talk but when he managed to, stressed that Richardson was not at fault. He would live only a month, passing away on December 19th 1906.