An emotion-fuelled afternoon in West Yorkshire saw Keighley Cougars get back to playing rugby league – and they provided a fitting tribute for Danny Jones by thumping Coventry Bears.
It was an afternoon where rugby league was clearly an afterthought, as the rugby league community continued to rally superbly to support Jones’s young family in the wake of his tragic death last Sunday.
Keighley’s biggest crowd in years, over 4,000, turned up en masse to contribute to the ever-growing fundraising efforts for wife Lizzie and five-month-old twins Bobby and Phoebe, who were all present at Cougar Park for Keighley’s first game since Jones’s death at the age of just 29.
Bucket collections on the afternoon produced in excess of £10,000, adding to a fundraising effort that has already raised over £100,000 in less than a week.
“We had to stick together and that huddle before the game brought us together for when the game kicked off,” said Keighley player-coach Paul March.
“I’m proud of how they’ve applied themselves; not just today but since the event in general. There’s 17 lads who took the field today but there’s a whole group who are feeling it emotionally.
“Seeing people from different clubs has been great, and we’re going to do more and more fundraising for him – because he’s never going to leave us.
“It’s good to win but it wasn’t about the result, it was about getting on the field to support Lizzie and the twins.”
Keighley were 18-0 up inside the opening quarter. Captain James Feather, a close friend of Jones’s, grabbed the headlines on the field with a hat-trick as the Cougars were simply too good and too emotionally charged for the Bears.
Keighley: Jesse Sheriffe; Gabriel, Barnes, RSherifffe, White; P March, Handforth; Law, Feather, Rawlins, Lynam, Pursglove, Lindsay. Substitutes: Jode Sheriffe, Patchett, Cherryholme, Kelly.
Coventry: Boulter; Rundle, Coleman, Medforth, Chapman-Carry; Poulton, Parker; Geurtjens, Hughes, Hall, Barratt, Thompson, Reid. Substitutes: Brown, Beddows, Cooper, Kelliher.
Referee: D Merrick (RFL).