KEIGHLEY Albion are hoping to create a number of girls teams to complement their successful ladies team, and are hoping to secure a move to Utley's Rose Cottage.

A successful, socially-distanced meeting with the town's MP, Robbie Moore, took place earlier this month, and club chairman Richard Dibbin addressed the discussions and what a move could mean in a statement.

He said: "Since moving to Crossflatts, where Dean Brooks and John Normington launched the Albion Juniors at the turn of the millennium, the club has grown significantly.

"We now boast 17 teams, starting with Albion Antz (three to five year olds), under-6s to under-18s and two open age teams.

"In terms of the number of participants, Albion is formally recognised as one of the biggest amateur clubs in the UK.

"We have now unfortunately outgrown our current home, with only one junior pitch and one full size pitch.

"We have only one set of changing rooms, no club house and small parking facilities.

"The ground is severely overused, requiring significant maintenance, with the logistics of training and matches very difficult to arrange.

"The vacant Rose Cottage would provide a fantastic venue for community rugby league in Keighley and a community hub, especially Utley.

"The facility would be available for local residents to host events, as well as social and community led schemes and would just be at the heart of the local residents and the surrounding area, with three or four junior pitches and two full size pitches.

"The club would also benefit from a clubhouse of its own, additional changing facilities, adequate parking, and a significant regeneration in the area.

"Albion would also be in the heart of Keighley, something the club are passionate about.

"We at Keighley Albion are in early discussions with regards to creating a number of girls teams. This is something we feel Keighley Albion should have on the back of the very successful Keighley Albion ladies team.

"These grounds would be the perfect location within Keighley and directly next door to our friends at Keighley Rugby Union. It could make this area an outstanding rugby hub that we can all be proud of.

"Robbie Moore agreed to help the club in the cause to acquire the rights to Rose Cottage and the renovation of the facility and assist with the ongoing discussions with the council regarding the site.

"Both the club and Keighley’s MP are excited, enthusiastic and ambitious about the plans, as well as the future of rugby league in the community.

"Robbie has agreed to come and meet the club again in the coming months, to discuss both the Rose Cottage move and the club's plans for developing junior sport and engaging more people in the Keighley community.

"This can be done with the numerous positive values of the team sport of rugby league, as we look to bring more success to the town and the many achievements the club has attained to date."

Meanwhile, Albion have begun a phased return to training, sticking to strict coronavirus-enforced guidelines.

At the moment, the U11s up to open age are back, but the club said they are currently investigating the option of bringing the primary age groups (U6 to U10) back before the end of July.

With no rugby league action to speak of over the past few months, Keighley have tried to keep their players and followers engaged and interacted in the club, through their social media channels.

Their Facebook page for example has just under 5,000 followers and social media manager Rob Spencer has done his best to keeping everyone's spirits up.

He has worked tirelessly on this, and helped the club virtually host live DJs, a live singer in Faith Jordan, as well as a quiz.

But to top it off, there was a big challenge to design a Keighley Albion supporters shirt, which kept the children involved in the club (over 300 junior members) entertained.

The competition was held in early March, and Albion were overwhelmed with the response, receiving 72 entries in total.

The committee then had the job of shortlisting a final four from all the designs, before the quartet were put to a public vote.

The overwhelming winning entry was 10-year-old Mia Hewitt’s design. The shirt incorporated values of the sport and club, which was something the committee loved.

They said that instilling the values of family, friendship and club are something which they pride themselves upon at Albion, and felt it was quite timely during that challenging period and the uncertainty of the epidemic.

They added: "The competition was always about inspiring and uplifting our members and juniors during this difficult time, and was never about making any money for the club.

"In the spirit of being a proud community club, and in light of the challenges faced in the unprecedented circumstances, we decided to donate all profits to, specifically the Airedale NHS Foundation Trust Hospital NHSFT.

"The interest in the shirts was phenomenal, as we received well over 100 orders, from all across the UK.

"One of these orders was placed by the town's MP Robbie Moore, who publicly backed the initiative. The shirt sales raised £615.38 for the charity.

"The competition also inspired other clubs to release NHS supporters shirts of their own, including professional sides."

On July 4, club officials met with Moore at Rose Cottage in Utley, where he was presented with his charity supporters shirt and also met competition winner Mia.

Also present were the directors of A1 Stairlift Services, the club's main sponsor.