KEITH Robinson, an outstanding ambassador for the Bradford League, died on Thursday at the age of 84 after a short illness.

He passed away quietly at Airedale Hospital, where his family were allowed to be with him at the end of a life which saw him dedicate thousands of hours to the game he loved.

He and his wife Lesley had been married for 59 years and were possibly the best-known couple on the league cricket circuit. They had three sons, Phil, Jamie and Richard, and a daughter Rachel.

Keith would support Lesley in her time as secretary of the Heavy Woollen Cup competition, and visitors to Keighley Cricket Club were for many years treated to the sight of Keith and Lesley providing lovely teas.

A draftsman by trade, Keith first made his mark on the Bradford League as a player with Idle, Bingley, Saltaire, Salts and Keighley. He was an opening bowler and a tail-end slogger.

After he hung up his boots, Keith continued to coach in the Keighley area and at Salts. It is probably due to his drive and inspiration that his three sons, Phil, Jamie and Richard, have all enjoyed fine careers.

Phil, who now lives in Australia, played 132 times for Yorkshire and also had a spell with Leicestershire.

Richard is the Bradford League’s all-time leading scorer with 17,476 runs, having played for Baildon, Brighouse, Keighley and Yeadon, while Jamie played for Cleckheaton, Baildon, Long Lee and Keighley.

Keith joined the league umpiring panel in 1989 and officiated for 13 years. He was an honorary member of the old Bradford League Umpires Association and regularly attended meetings after he stopped umpiring.

One person who was glad when his dad took up umpiring was his youngest son Richard.

“He used to come to watch me play and if I had hit two fours in an over he would shout out ‘that’s enough for this over,’ I was getting sick of hearing it,” he said.

“It was rich coming from a slogger who once hit 11 sixes in 12 balls while playing for Long Lee.”

There were of course benefits from having your dad as an umpire. “I think I might have got one or two decisions when I was bowling,” he added.

Richard, who works as a groundsman at Weetwood and Headingley, was due to return to play for Keighley this season, but due to coronavirus that has not been possible.

He said: “Dad was looking forward to seeing me play there, but sadly it is not to be.

“Today (Thursday) has been emotional but I have received literally hundreds of lovely messages from people about my Dad. It means a lot to me.”

Keith was a determined individual with a waspish sense of humour. His determination and fighting spirit were never more evident than when he twice overcame cancer in his later years.

He was the master of lulling you into a seemingly harmless conversation before lobbing in a real hand grenade of a question and walking away smiling broadly.

League president Keith Moss was among those who admired his sense of humour, along with his determination to do the job right.

He said: “Keith Robinson was a wonderful worker for his club and was a great supporter of the league. He and Lesley always ensured that I had a warm welcome at Keighley. Keith will be sadly missed.”

It was Keith Moss’ duty to write the citation and make the award when Keith Robinson won the coveted Sir Leonard Hutton trophy in 2013.

The picture provided with this story shows Keith and Lesley Robinson celebrating his success.

The pair of them and son Richard were awarded the Unsung Hero award the following year for their work at Keighley.

Both awards were richly deserved and testament to the admiration the cricket community has for them.

Philip Radcliffe, former chairman of the Bradford League Umpires Association said: “Keith was a respected colleague and friend. He was a pleasure to stand with on the field and never short of a tale to tell. He loved the game whether he was playing, umpiring or just watching.

“He knew most of the players and many of the players knew Keith. In his later years, he looked forward to the summer when he could get out and watch some cricket, but you would always see people stop to talk to him as they walked around the ground.

“Our thoughts are with Lesley and her family at this difficult time. The cricket family Robinson have had Keith taken from them, but he will not be forgotten.

“People will be talking about Keith for many years to come, not only in his hometown of Keighley, but all around the Bradford Premier League and further afield.”

Facebook and Twitter have been full of lovely tributes and as the cricket community mourn Keith’s loss, people will remember that cheeky smile, that sharp wit and his deep devotion to his family and cricket.