KEIGHLEY Cricket Club are one of the most recognisable sporting clubs in the local area, having played at their Lawkholme Lane ground since 1869.

Key players before they joined the Bradford League in 1916 included wicketkeeper Arthur Dolphin, who won a Test cap, and batsman Arthur Sellers, father of ex-Yorkshire captain Brian, who also played for Keighley.

In their inaugural season in the Bradford League, the club finished in mid-table, with legendary all-rounder Frank Wooley averaging 48.70 with the bat and taking 7-16 in a match against Lidget Green.

He played in 64 Tests for England, scored almost 59,000 first-class runs and took over 2,000 first-class wickets. He is also the only outfield player with more than 1,000 first-class catches.

The club won their first title three years later in 1919, losing only one of their 20 matches over the course of the season.

The post-war resumption of county cricket had an inevitable effect on Keighley, and many other sides who also lost star players, but they still finished as runners-up in 1921 and 1922 and won the Priestley Cup for the first time in 1921.

That final saw them beat Saltaire by nine wickets at Park Avenue, with the game still claiming the world record attendance for club cricket of 14,179.

Keighley had further Priestley Cup success in 1932 and 1935 after defeating Bowling Old Lane and Great Horton respectively, while the season after that latter victory, H Jefferson took an incredible 58 league wickets at 6.77.

The Second World War meant many county players were available for league cricket and the crowds flocked to Lawkholme, primarily to see the diminutive Lancashire and England left-hander Eddie Paynter.

In 1940 he had the rare distinction at the time of scoring a thousand runs in the league and two years later, he hit 970 at an astonishing average of 138.55 as Keighley finished as Division B champions.

Keighley were league champions again in 1946 by one point from Yeadon, and Priestley Cup winners in 1948 after a marathon, high-scoring final, against Salts.

Relegation in 1952 ushered in an era of struggle. The club’s sole success was achieved by the second team, who won five successive titles from 1962.

Ex-England footballer Mike Hellawell starred as the 1960s dawned, and while a two-wicket Priestley Cup triumph against Bowling Old Lane in 1961 was welcome , the club had to wait until 1976 for real celebration with Division Two titles for both club teams, plus Priestley Shield success.

After promotion, Keighley consolidated their spot in the First Division, with a fearsome three-pronged pace attack of Paul Topp, John Roberts and future county star Peter Hartley.

They were relegated in 1979, and only had a brief stay in the top flight after coming back up in 1988, but they did win another Priestley Cup in 1984.

Phil Robinson made his mark with 730 Bradford League runs for Keighley in 1981, before going on to have a successful career with Yorkshire.

Meanwhile in 1993, local lad Paul Spragg broke Paynter’s 53-year old record by scoring 1,149 league runs.

Keighley scored a surprise Heavy Woollen Cup final triumph over Baildon in 2002, and secured promotion to the First Division again in 2005, before being relegated four years later.

Skipper and all-rounder Richard Robinson was the star man in the that period, but when his job as Yorkshire Academy’s groundsman at Weetwood took priority in the 2010s, Keighley struggled, and they were relegated to the third tier in 2016.

But they brought in Paul Quinlan as captain for 2018, and also made high-calibre signings like Richard Gould, Adam Greenwood and Jonathan Wilkinson, leading to promotion to the second tier at the end of that campaign.

After a middling 2019 season, and a Covid-ruined 2020 campaign, Keighley almost went down to Division Two (now the third tier) in 2021, but a dramatic 17-run win over Lightcliffe on the final day secured their safety.

Can they make the most of that reprieve and go on to bigger and better things in 2022 and beyond?

  • Special thanks to the Bradford League website, and its club history pages, for the help with this article.