The big debate – Will Keighley ever have a top non-League club of its own? Part 4

The idea of a Keighley ‘town’ side is nothing new. Rob Grillo tells the tale of the previous incarnations of attempts to form a high-level club to represent Keighley. Read the full story in Rob’s excellent Keighley’s Soccer History book, still available, here.

The Keighley Town team on their way to the Yorkshire League in 1946. All pictures courtesy of Rob Grillo’s Keighley’s Soccer History book

Keighley’s first ‘town’ team was Keighley Celtic, who swept all before them and were so good that they rose to the heady heights of the Bradford and District League.
However, they had no ground of their own, being somewhat nomadic – playing at Hard Ings Road (possibly more than one venue), near the old Fell Lane infirmary, Worth Village and back to Hard Ings Road again several times. Their headquarters was the Bradford Arms Inn.
They also had no money, as their stay in the Bradford League virtually crippled them, and did not reform after The Great War.
There have been several teams bearing the ‘Keighley Town’ title, two of which could have made it had they received the financial input necessary.

Those were the days: Keighley Town and Leeds United side-by-side in the Yorkshire League handbook.

The first of these was the side that had started out at Parkwood FC, playing at a ground that eventually became the town’s greyhound stadium.
That ground had a stand for some 3,000 spectators, yet attendances for their two seasons in the Yorkshire League were often less than a 10th of that number, and way way below what other clubs such as Goole Town were getting. Other opponents included Ossett Town and Selby Town as well as ‘A’ teams of many Football League clubs.

What if? A programme from Keighley Town’s visit to York City Reserves

Town were only two steps off the Football League, but they folded in 1948 after finishing rock bottom of the Yorkshire League. A lack of support, as well as finance finished them off.
And then Trevor Hockey gave it a go when he ‘re-formed’ Keighley Town in 1979. Sadly there was no ground suitable for a team that wanted to play in the Northern Premier League, and even a man as charismatic as Hockey could not attract the financial support from local businesses needed for his vision to work.
They played at the Rose Cottage ground in Utley, the old Keighley RUFC pitch at Marley and Marley itself, after unsuccessful attempts to develop the old greyhound stadium and groundshare with Keighley RLFC at Lawkholme Lane.
Despite being West Riding League champions, the side folded just after Hockey’s untimely death. The ground issue was a real thorn, as it had been when Keighley Central came and went a decade earlier.
Interestingly, Geoff Busfield’s Keighley Borough FC, formed in the late 1980s was to play at Cougar Park, but that venture ended pre-season when it met with virtually no support.  

Last attempt: Trevor Hockey (front, second right) was the last man to push Keighley Town towards a higher level.

Years later Silsden saw a groundshare there at what became Keighley’s most successful venture into the higher non-League echelons.
Silsden have proved that it can be done. That the club was nearly 100 years old before it could make that step up is relevant too, as the club was already well established in the local community.
It has been done without a ‘sugar daddy’ but local business has been key in helping raise the funds necessary to get Keighley Road up to North West Counties League standard.

  • What are the chances of a newly-formed Keighley FC getting off the ground and surviving in view of previous unsuccessful attempts? Would it work, would you support such a club? Would you be willing to invest your time, expertise and money to make it happen? Where could they play? Have your say. Email editorial@keighleykicks.co.uk with your views.

Read Part 1, here.
Read Part 2, here.
Read Part 3, here.

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