Cougars stalwart Jeremy Crowther has spoken of his pride after being officially recognised by the Rugby Football League with a prestigious Outstanding Contribution to English Schools Rugby League award.

The club’s veteran head of youth development, 76, was formally recognised for his outstanding efforts at an awards ceremony at the City of Salford Stadium prior to the England versus France final.

A 20-year career in youth rugby league development has seen Crowther work with a wide range of age groups, both boys and girls, in Keighley schools as well as leading the Cougars scholarship scheme.

He has also lead several teams to the prestigious Carnegie Champion Schools finals held on Challenge Cup final weekend.

Crowther said: “I’m absolutely delighted to receive the award. Helping to bring the young kids through keeps me going really and the rewards are absolutely fantastic.

“I don’t expect an award such as this because that’s not why I do it. I do it for the love of the game and seeing young lads progress through the ranks.”

Crowther, who lives in Sutton-in-Craven, admitted he was stunned, firstly to get nominated, and then to actually win it.

He explained: “I got an initial e-mail from the RFL to say English Schools had decided to do an award for outstanding contribution.

“They sent out a list of 50 people who had been nominated and then reduced this to a short-list of three.

“Every one of us was invited to the England versus France game at Salford and I began to get a bit excited.

“We didn’t know who had won until we got there and there was a bit of a do upstairs before the match.

“I was sat at a table with all the other nominees and then it was announced that the winner of the award had spent over 20 years in the game.

“It then transpired it was me and I was really chuffed because there were quite a few people who had also been in for the award.

“I’ve been working in schools now for I don’t know how long.

“There were quite a few people there who worked as teachers or in a service area, but I was the only one who worked for a professional club.

“It was a bit of a shot in the arm for the community development programme at Keighley Cougars, so the club can also be very proud.”