Very interesting piece in the Times over the weekend by Alistair Campbell, former king of spin doctors for Labour, about a visit he made recently to Keighley Cougars. Campbell is a Keighley native, and accepted an invite from the Cougars to revisit a club he hadn’t seen play in over forty years. He presents a story of a club who have to make do without the perks of full professionalism but manage to find a way, all because of a love of the game.
Campbell does a very good job of painting the scenario that faces many clubs in the Championships: smaller crowds, limited resources and semi-professional players who have to back up playing with full-time jobs (I imagine there’s a significant number of amateur players who find it hard enough to do this, let alone having to cope with the demands of semi-professionalism) and yet he’s far from patronizing. Indeed, he shows the passion and energy that those at this level of the game exude (read Barry Eaton’s pre-match speech). He also does a good job of showing the contribution Keighley make to the local community, and the difficulties and rewards of outreach programmes for these clubs. The people at the club realise it’s not easy, but they still love doing it anyway.
Oh, and although it’s barely related to the article, I thought I’d bring it up anyway: Keighley Cougars will be playing London Skolars in the traditional Friday Night Lights game the evening before the Challenge Cup final. If you’re in London for the final and are looking for something to do the night before, come on down. Perhaps the Skolars should invite Campbell?