Keighley coach Paul March believes the future is bright for the Cougars – and insists they can work their way into rugby league’s elite over the coming years.
The Cougars are currently four points adrift of a play-off place in the Kingstone Press Championship.
And March is certain there are good times ahead for the club who enjoyed their glory years in the early nineties.
March said: “I believe we’re in a good position. Sponsors are coming into the club now, and we’re healthy off the field.
“On the field we’re going along nicely, and for next year we’ve already recruited most of this year’s squad and added to that as well. This time last year we didn’t have anybody signed up.”
March points to an improved off-field set-up as a key indicator of Keighley’s potential rise over the coming seasons.
March said: “In recent years there have been some issues, but since the new board has come in and Gary (Fawcett, chairman), Neil (Cullen, chief executive) and Peter (Spencer, club director) have been running the club it’s all been going well. A lot of sponsors are coming on board.
“The club is looking to becoming one of the forces in rugby league.
“If it goes to two tiers of Super League when the restructuring is confirmed, we’re definitely looking to get out of tier 2 and up into tier 1 over the next few years. That’s the club’s aim and the board will do everything they can to drive it forward.”
Fawcett is clearly intent on putting the Cougars back at the top table, outlining his bold vision with clarity and determination.
“Our mission is to be one of the best rugby league teams in the country by 2018,” he says.
Away from the boardroom, March is also encouraged by a recent focus on the club’s junior development.
March said: “We’re in the process of setting up a school of excellence with South Craven College which will be run by our under 20s coach Dean Muir who’s a lecturer there.
“From next year we’ll have 16 or 17 full time kids training with the college, and it gives us a pathway from college rugby to the U20s to the first team. Creating that pathway will hopefully pay dividends for the club and the fans in the future.”
Rewarding Cougars’ loyal fans is another motivation for March.
“The loyal fans deserve success,” he said. “At the start of Super League they should have gone up and never did, and that lost the club money and some fans, but if we get back to that kind of ability on the field those fans will come back. We’re looking forward to that.”