Cougars chairman Gary Fawcett is hoping the club can emulate Bradford City’s historic giant-killing cup feats of last season as they bid to upset Widnes tonight.
The Bantams enjoyed an incredible 2012-13 campaign when they become the first side from the fourth tier to reach a major Wembley final when facing Swansea in the Capital One Cup final.
It was a fairytale story which captured the hearts of the nation and Fawcett admits he is dreaming of Cougars producing something similar by reaching Wembley in the Challenge Cup final.
Paul March’s part-time Championship outfit travel to Widnes this evening in their first quarter-final since 1997 and the Super League side are clear favourites to reach the last four.
Yet Fawcett said: “Last year I watched Bradford City’s progression to the League Cup final with real excitement and their team and management did a fantastic job for the club.
“This year it’s Keighley Cougars’ turn to progress through the rounds of a major cup competition.
“Cougar Park is as exciting as Valley Parade on any game day. We are progressing through a national cup in a similar way as Bradford City did last year.
“The support they validly received was quite remarkable. Similar support for the Cougars tonight and the great game of rugby league in general would be equally amazing.”
Although Cougars’ club coffers will be boosted by reaching the last eight of the famous old knockout cup competition, with tonight’s game being televised live on Sky (8pm kick-off), it will be nowhere near the riches earned by Bradford during their cup exploits last year.
The Bantams enjoyed two Wembley appearances in 2013 after reaching the League Two play-off final and made over £2million from their historic campaign.
Fawcett added: “Bradford reaped substantial financial gains from their progress to the Capital One Cup final and deservedly so.
“But the financial rewards for us progessing to the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup pales into insignificance by comparison to what would be gained from football. The gulf is breathtaking actually and, for every £10,000 earned by a rugby league team, a football team in a similar national cup competition would earn at least £300,000.
“Rugby league is as exciting a sport as football.
“Unfortunately, we have a strange sports culture where a boring football club will earn many times more than an exciting, exhilarating rugby league club. Having said that, all the finances from the Challenge Cup progression are good for the club because our cost base is unbelievably low.
“Progression to the next round, if we manage to beat Widnes, would be the financial cherry and icing on the top.
“It would be a dream come true to for us if we were to reach the semi-finals.”