When we heard about the sudden death of Keighley Cougars Rugby League player Danny Jones, we felt compelled to attend the next game Cougars were playing at Cougar Park. Having spent many good times over the years with great friends following Keighley it'd been a while since we had been down to Cougars to watch a game.
There were many seasons where we went to watch Cougars week in and week out, even following them to many away games. We have even been to watch them at London, the same venue where Danny tragically lost his life.
It was great to see the Cougars appeal to the rugby league community to fill the ground for their game against the Coventry Bears in memory of Danny. There was a good atmosphere, despite it being an occasion tinged with sadness. Danny died the week before, after feeling unwell during the game and suffering a cardiac arrest. The game was subsequently abandoned and sadly Danny passed away, leaving behind a wife and 5 month old twins.
We have been at Cougars before when people connected to the club have died and we knew they would do things right. There were signed shirts from all different clubs hung on the wall, many with messages to Danny and his family. It's incredible to see fans from all rugby league clubs coming together to support the club and Danny's family at such a sad time.
Before the game there was a minute of silence, then balloons were sent up into the sky just as the game was about to kick off. Danny's shirt number was 6 so it was a lovely gesture to see the entire ground ringing with applause at the 6 minute mark.
The game was well fought until the last 20 minutes with Cougars winning 52-10. It was nice to see so many people in attendence. A fund has been set up to help Danny's children and family, the bucket collection on the day raised over £11,000 which was just fantastic. People's generosity really stood out on the day.
Although we didn't know Danny very well, we've spoken to him an odd time at the bar to congratulate or cosmierate with him after a game, it's still sad to know at 29 he is no longer with us.
After the game we met some friends in the upstairs bar to share our memories and also heard from Robbie Paul who is one of our rugby hero's and a Bradford Bulls legend -This is just another example of the rugby league community coming together during difficult times. We also heard from Danny's dad who accepted some donations from a Wigan fan who had come over to Keighley to pay his respects.
It was nice to see 'old' faces and friends around the ground and we plan to go back to watch Keighley again this year - It's fun to reminisce on all the good times we had there!
Keighley Cougars are continuing to raise money which will be given to the Danny Jones fund, it's so great to see people coming together and you can make a donation and read more information here.