Bramley Rugby League Legends – Keith Bollon

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Success: Bramley RL player Keith Bollon.

Paul Abraham continues his look back at club legends who played for Bramley Rugby League Club in bygone days…

Keith holds the distinction of playing for both Bramley Rugby League and Bramley Old Boys Rugby Union, as they were called at the time. It’s a unique achievement and he is always welcomed back at both clubs since his retirement from playing.

He made his Bramley rugby league debut on 22 January 1966 in the 4-11 defeat to Leeds at Headingley and started against Hull KR at home, ending in a 7-11 victory to the Robins. The final match of the season saw Keith come on as a substitute in the 15-all draw at Whitehaven.

The following season saw Keith make seven appearances for the Villagers and brought him tries in successive matches in the 27-6 win at Batley and the 23-5 victory in the home game with Doncaster.

Season 67-68 and Keith appeared 19 times plus one substitute appearance and kicked goals against Leeds (11-24), Bradford Northern (6-24), Hull (11-2) and Doncaster (10-5), all being played at home.

Keith’s name was one of the first on the teamsheet as he made 33 appearances during the 1968-69 campaign. Keith celebrated this with tries in the away matches at Featherstone (8-18), Hull  KR (9-36) and Hunslet (12-19) and added a brace of tries in the 18-7 home victory against Batley. He also kicked a goal in the 17-23 home reverse against Halifax.

The 1969-70 would be Keith’s most prolific try-scoring season as he crossed for an impressive ten tries.

He scored tries in the away games at Hunslet (14-16) and Wakefield (12-31) and then scored in three out of four matches in September/October with tries at home to Halifax (15-28) and Wakefield (16-16) and the away loss (7-15) at York.

He scored two tries in the 10-18 home defeat to Huyton and went on to score in successive matches at Huyton (17-5) and at home to York (16-12), with his final tries being in the 14-0 whitewash at home to Blackpool. He also kicked goals against Wakefield at home and in the impressive 19-3 home victory against Hull KR in his 29 appearances.

1970-71 came, and Keith started in another 25 matches for the amber and blacks. This brought him two tries in the brilliant 35-2 thumping of Hunslet at Parkside and single scores in the home games versus Bradford Northern (27-5) in the Yorkshire Cup and in the victorious league matches against Hunslet (23-5) and Blackpool Borough (13-5). The home derby against Leeds in September was Keith’s 100th start for the club. Sadly it ended in a 9-29 defeat.

The following two seasons were quieter for Keith as he turned out 11 times, including one sub appearance in the 1971-72 campaign and followed that with nine starts and six substitute appearances in season 72-73 and added to his career tries by scoring on 1 April in the superb 20-5 victory at Huddersfield.

Every Bramley supporter will remember the 1973-74 season as the club’s most successful season.

They won their first-ever trophy when they defeated Wakefield away 10-9, Castleford 13-2 and St Helens 13-12 at home and defeated Widnes 15-7 at Naughton Park to lift the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy.

The semi-final against St Helens was a personal highlight, as Keith scorched over for two tries in a stunning victory. The club also reached the semi-final of the John Player Trophy, going down to a 2-14 defeat at Rochdale Hornets. In his 26 starts and three sub appearances, he also scored tries against Whitehaven, at home in a 21-12 victory, in a 10-14 defeat to the star-studded Salford team at the Willows and in the challenging 8-8 draw at home to Castleford.

Another 34 starts in the Bramley side came during the 1974-75 campaign, and in a season which saw the side relegated from the first division, Keith still managed to cross the whitewash on six occasions.

First in the club’s record-breaking 52-17 demolition of Doncaster in the Yorkshire Cup and a crucial try in a thrilling 15-14 home win against Castleford, while on their travels, he scored at York (14-21), Wakefield (13-50), Keighley (3-11) and Warrington (8-23) the final two being the final two games of the season.

His 200th first-team start brought him a try in the 13-6 home win against Whitehaven and was Keith’s only try of the 1975-76 season when he was limited to just nine appearances.

The promotion-winning campaign of 1976-77 brought Keith another 9 appearances, including one as a sub and scoring a vital try in the tough 20-8 victory at Halifax.

The 1977/78 season was to be Keith’s final season, and it was fitting that it should finish with him playing in the top division as he made 14 starts and one substitute appearance. His last try in Bramley’s colours was in the 23-3 home victory versus Dewsbury, and he also kicked a drop-goal in the nail-biting 15-13 home win against the strong Workington Town side. His last appearance was in the 2-15 defeat at Bradford Northern, who the previous day provided the opposition in Keith’s final match at McClaren Field, which resulted in a 5-16 loss.

Keith will always be remembered as a classy back, and it is a surprise to many who saw him at his prime that he was never rewarded with a county appearance as his speed and distribution would not have been out of place at that level.

Career record

Season          Apps          Sub Apps          Tries          Goals          Drop-goals          Points

1965-66           2                1

1966-67           7                                           2                                                                6

1967-68          19               1                                           4                                              8

1968-69          33                                          5                1                                             17

1969-70          29                                        10                2                                             34

1970-71          25                                          5                                                               15

1971-72          10               1

1972-73            9               6                         1                                                                 3

1973-74          26               3                         5                                                               15

1974-75          34                                          6                                                               18

1975-76            9                                          1                                                                 3

1976-77            8               1                         1                                                                 3

1977-78          14               1                         1                                         1                      4

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