Rugby League

Keighley Cougars

20 Feb 2024

Keighley Cougars stalwart Jeremy Crowther remembered

Keighley Cougars stalwart Jeremy Crowther remembered

Jeremy Crowther, a stalwart of the Keighley Cougars club for the best part of three decades, sadly passed away on Wednesday 14th February 2024 at the age of 87.

Dedicating the majority of his life to the sport of Rugby League, mainly in and around the Keighley area, the passing of ‘Jezza’ has left a hole not just in the town and the sport, but the may lives he touched and affected.

An infectious personality and always with a smile on his face, Jeremy, affectionally known as ‘my boy’ by those who knew him, inspired generations of both boys and girls Rugby League players across the area.

Born in Bradford in August 1936, a young Jeremy attended Bradford Grammar School where he would become a classmate of Sir David Hockney.

It was during these formative years that Crowther would develop his love of sport, regularly attending Bradford Northern and Bradford Park Avenue fixtures throughout his teenage and young adult years.

After a stint serving in the Armed Forces in Egypt, he would re-discover his love for sport when work relocated him to Warrington where he would become a regular at Wilderspool and develop what would turn into a lifelong support for the Warrington Wolves.

Moving back to Keighley in the 1990’s, Jeremy would become infatuated with the ‘Cougarmania’ craze of the time after son Jonathan had brought home tickets from school and from there became involved with the club first as a youth coach in the Keighley Cougars Cubs system.

And after initially joining in latter 1996, he remained at Cougar Park for the next 26 years.

His work with both the club’s academy and school systems would inspire generations to pick up a Rugby ball and take up the sport in Keighley, including internationals in both the men’s and women’s games.

Coaching, fundraising, and eventually running, the Cubs set-up at the club, Jeremy’s vision for the academy came to fruition in the new millennium.

With the help and assistance of club legends such as Matt Foster and Jason Ramshaw, the highly successful Cougars academy and schools systems of the time would be launched.

Leading schools teams to Challenge Cup finals day at Murrayfield, Cardiff, and Twickenham, as well as winning a number of academy level of titles, this time would see ‘Jezza’ develop a near hundred professional and semi-professional players in both the men’s and women’s games.

And during this time, it would where he first began his friendship with club doctor Richard Lawrence, whom would later in life help set-up and launch the Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund.

Ahead of the 2006 season, Crowther would move into the first-team fold at the club after being appointed football secretary by Barry Eaton.

This is a role he would serve under Eaton, Jason Demetriou, and Paul March, all three he considered good friends.

Alongside his administrative role, Jeremy’s commitment to the schools game would continue and both 2006 and 2007 brought with it his personal greatest achievement as he took girls teams to back-to-back finals.

Whilst South Craven were defeated on finals day in 2006, the following year saw Crowther take Holy Family to victory on the first Challenge Cup Final day at the new Wembley Stadium.

He would also provide solace for both the children and first-team players as a go to man for advice and help.

Following the transition from Eaton to Demetriou, ‘my boy’ would assist behind the scenes during a successful two-year period which saw the club promoted from League One and reach the play-offs in the Championship.

Jeremy’s many years of hard work with both the schools and academy programme would be rewarded in 2012 by the governing body of the sport, the Rugby Football League.

In an awards ceremony in Salford, he would be rewarded with an Outstanding Contribution award for his work with the English Schools Rugby League system.

This time also saw the departure of Demetriou and the arrival of March, with whom Crowther would aid in successfully relaunching the club’s schools programme and foundation as they looked to bring through the next generation of players for the club.

The 2015 season proved a difficult one for all involved as Danny Jones, a good friend of Jeremy who he often described as the “funniest man he ever met”, sadly died on the field during a fixture against London Skolars.

He would however rise to the occasion once again, proving a support network and shoulder to lean on for all involved at not just the club, but also the Jones family, as they mourned the loss of Danny.

The following year, ‘Jezza’ would announce the first of his eventual two retirements at the end of the 2016 iPro Sport Cup winning season, the club awarding Crowther with the Clubman of the Year award.

He wouldn’t stay retired long though, answering the call of Craig Lingard to come out of retirement to assist with the administration side of the Rugby following his appointment as Head Coach.

Continuing to oversee the reserves side alongside Frank Levy under the stewardship of both Lingard and then Rhys Lovegrove, even in his later years a love and passion for the sport continued to shine brightly.

With the club on the brink of existence in 2018, Crowther’s love for the club shone through once more as he helped spearhead a number of fundraising efforts and dialogue with the governing body to not just help get Keighley to the end of the season but to keep the club in business.

And it was only fitting at the conclusion of the 2019 season that Jeremy’s many achievements and dedication to the Cougars was rewarded as the club officially inducted him into the Keighley RLFC Hall of Fame.

Following the pandemic, he would again return to the club this time in a voluntary role to help oversee the re-launch of the Cougarmania Foundation and ran his final schools tournament at the conclusion of 2021 before retiring for good ahead of the 2022 season.