STEETON AFC have received backing from the town's MP as they embark on the first rung of the non-league football ladder. Promoted from the West Riding County Amateur League, the club begins next season in the semi-professional Hallmark Security League Division One North (North West Counties). The club has secured a pitch-sharing agreement with Keighley Cougars rugby league club and will play all home games at the Cougar Park Stadium. It is a big move for the club and heralds the establishment of a semi-professional football club for Keighley, something the town’s football-loving public have been crying out for.
Keighley MP John Grogan said: “It has always been a bit of an anomaly that within Keighley there have for many years been thriving rugby union, rugby league and cricket teams but not a semi-professional football team.
“This exciting proposal for Steeton AFC and Keighley Cougars to share facilities deserves widespread backing. I look forward to the imminent publication of the fixture list for the season ahead.”
In the build-up to the start of the season, the committee at Steeton AFC has been busy laying the groundwork for what first-team manager Roy Mason describes as “a very exciting time for the club.” The club’s ground staff has been preparing the pitch at Cougar Park so that it is suitable for year-round usage for both sports, while efforts to bring in new sponsors are starting to bear fruit.
Mason says the response from local businesses has been fantastic but the club is looking to engage more sponsors:
He said: “For years I’ve had people say to me that Keighley needs a semi-professional football team. Now it has one, but we need to get more local businesses to work with us, so we can grow on and off the field.”
Alongside generating closer links with local businesses the football club has ambitious plans to engage with the community and build a strong fan base.
Club treasurer Michael Ferguson explains that the club has launched a new season ticket offer and will be distributing free tickets to all local children under 16.
He said: “We’re planning a schools and sports club outreach programme and hope free tickets will get kids coming down to support the team.
"We’ll also be working with other junior football clubs in the area to encourage participation in the sport and develop the next generation of local footballers.”
Season tickets for Cougar Park are now on sale with prices starting at £35 for young adults (17-21) and OAPs. Full price tickets for adults are priced at £60 for 19 home league games. The club is also working closely with Keighley Cougars to encourage youngsters to support both codes and will offer under 16s a free season ticket that covers both sports.