Match preview by Doug Thomson, League Express
Match Date: Sunday August 13th, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM EDT / 3:00 PM BST
Venue: Cougar Park, Keighley
HOME IS CALLING
The Wolfpack will be back on home turf soon – but there’s a job to be done before getting on that plane.
A second visit of the season to Keighley Cougars comes in round three of the Super 8s before four straight home matches for Paul Rowley’s table-toppers.
Toronto were 48-21 winners at Cougar Park back in March, when Jonny Pownall grabbed a hat-trick of tries.
Don’t make the mistake of saying Keighley is part of Bradford!
The town has been within the metropolitan borough of the West Yorkshire city since 1974.
But the merger caused a lot of bitterness among Keighley people, who resented being ‘taken over’ by Bradford and accused the council of neglecting the town, which now has a population of more than 70,000.
The name Keighley, which has gone through many changes of spelling, is accepted to mean ‘Cyhha’s farm or clearing’ and was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
Keighley was to become an intersection of a number of turnpikes (early roads) as well as a wool and cotton processing centre. Around that a number of firms producing textile machinery emerged.
Eleven miles North-West of Bradford, the town lies at the confluence of the rivers Worth and Aire in the foothills of the Pennines.
Nearby is Haworth, made famous by the Bronte sisters, who wrote such literary classics as Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte), and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Anne Bronte) while living in the area in the mid-Nineteenth Century.
There was a time when Keighley were considered the most progressive club in Rugby League, and in 1996, there was major controversy due to exclusion from the 12 clubs who made up the inaugural Super League.
That was despite winning the old Second Division in 1994-95 and regularly attracting crowds of more than 5,000 to Cougar Park.
Adding the name Cougars to Keighley and changing the title of the Yorkshire club’s historic ground from Lawkholme Lane to Cougar Park in 1991 was the start of a hugely successful rebrand which brought razzmatazz to Rugby League and earned praise from then Prime Minister John Major.
The club had been in the doldrums, and in danger of going out of business, at the start of the decade.
Missing out on Super League was a bitter blow, and success has since been scare for a club who played Rugby Union from its formation in 1876 until joining the Northern Union (later Rugby League) in 1900.
Keighley were champions of the newly-created Second Division in 1903, but their first real taste of the big time came under the coaching of Major Norman Harrison in the 1930s, when the highlight was a 1937 Challenge Cup final appearance at Wembley, where Widnes won 18-5.
In 1952, Keighley hosted the touring Australians in one of the earliest Rugby League matches to be screened on television.
In more recent times, the club finished second in what is now the Championship in 2000, but have tended to yo-yo between the second and third tiers since then.
Keighley have a highly experienced and effective hooker in captain James Feather, who has given the club more than a decade of service and turned down offers from higher-level sides in the process.
And they have another long-serving player in prop Scott Law, while Josh Lynam recently made his 100th appearance for the club, although his fellow second row Emmerson Whittel has been ruled out long term by a one injury.
Coach Craig Lingard has brought in prop Trae O’Sullivan on loan from Championship side Batley to add to his pack options.
Among the backs are regular tryscorers Andy Gabriel and Adam Ryder along with Jamaica international Hamish Barnes and diminutive former Hull KR scrum half Matty Beharrell.