Batley Bulldogs

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Batley Bulldogs
Batley bulldogs.png
Club information
Full name Batley Bulldogs Rugby League Football Club
Nickname(s) The Bulldogs
Short name Batley Bulldogs
Colours Batley colours.svg Cerise, Gold and White
Founded 1880; 137 years ago (1880)
Current details
Chairman Kevin Nicholas
Coach Matt Diskin
Captain vacant
Competition Championship
2017 season 6th
Rugby football current event.png Current season
Home colours
Away colours
Championships 1 (1924)
Challenge Cups 3 (1897, 1898, 1901)
Other honours 6

Batley Bulldogs R.L.F.C. are an English professional rugby league club in Batley, West Yorkshire[1][2] who play in the Kingstone Press Championship. Batley were one of the original twenty-two rugby football clubs that formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895. They were League Champions in 1924 and have won three Challenge Cups.[1]


Early years[edit]

Batley Cricket Club decided to have a rugby football side merge with them at their ground under the name Batley Cricket Athletic and Football Club. The two local rugby teams, Batley Mountaineers and Batley Athletic, played a challenge match at the cricket club's Mount Pleasant home on 23 October 1880 to determine which was the town's premier rugby side and worthy of the cricket club. Both sides claimed victory but the cricket club chose Batley Athletic to join them.

The new club's first game was at home against Bradford Zingari which they won by 2 goals, 3 touchdowns, 2 dead balls and one touch goal to nil. Jacob Parker scored the first touchdown.[3] The first season finished with Batley having won 15 games and drawn 5 out of 26 matches played.

They won the Yorkshire Challenge Cup in 1884 – 5 season beating Heckmondwike, Pudsey, Halifax, Salterhebble and Bradford before beating Manningham 8 minor points to 2 in the final held at Cardigan Fields in Leeds.

Batley were one of the original twenty-two clubs that met at the George Hotel, Huddersfield on 29 August 1895 and formed the Northern Rugby Football Union. Batley’s first match under the new union was on 7 September 1895 against Hull F.C. at Mount Pleasant with Batley winning 7 – 3.

Sixth in the Yorkshire Senior Competition of 1896/97, they battled their way to third spot come the end of the next season. Where knock-out competitions was concerned, they were peerless. In 1897, the 'Gallant Youths' became the first winners of the Challenge Cup beating St. Helens 10-3, in front of a crowd of 13,492 at Headingley.

Photo taken in 1897, St Helens vs Batley (left) in the first Challenge Cup Final

Batley retained the trophy by beating Bradford Northern on the corresponding weekend the following year at Headingley in front of 27,941 spectators, which was then a record gate for a rugby match.

The club were Yorkshire League winners in 1898/99 and in 1900/01 won the Challenge Cup for the third and last time to date; once again Headingley was the venue as Batley defeated Warrington 6–0.

Wharton 'Wattie' Davies set club records for most appearance, goals and points between 1896-1912. Batley's next cup triumph came on 23 November 1912 when Hull were defeated 17–3 at Headingley in Batley’s one and only Yorkshire County Cup win.

The 'Gallant Youths' reached the semi-final of the Yorkshire Cup and led the league in November 1923. Batley were crowned champions on Saturday 3 May 1924, lifting the Rugby League Championship Trophy for the only time in the club’s history, after defeating Wigan 13–7 in the final. The club were also Yorkshire League winners that season.

The record attendance was set at 23,989 for the visit of Leeds for a third round Challenge Cup match on 14 March 1925.

Post Second World War[edit]

Cerise and fawn colours worn by Batley during the 1980s

1952 saw a Yorkshire Cup final appearance against Huddersfield on 15 November. 'Fartown' running out 18–8 winners.

The club's name was changed from Batley Cricket, Athletic & Football Club Ltd to its present official name of Batley Football Club Ltd in June 1979.

The club celebrated its centenary in 1981 with a win over the league's new London team, Fulham.

In the 1960s the league was restructured into two divisions for two seasons before the single-division format was finally ditched in 1973 (there was also a three-season experiment with two divisions at the beginning of the 20th century). Batley are one of only a few teams never to make it into the top flight, although they came very close in 1993/94. The last match of the season against Doncaster came down to being a play-off for a spot in the first division, but Batley lost 10-5 in front of a capacity crowd of 4,500 at Mount Pleasant, and the chance was lost.

The local council suggested that Dewsbury and Batley ground share at Crown Flatt after refusing a grant towards safety repairs to Mount Pleasant in February 1987.

Batley looked set to join the elite in 1995 when they held off Huddersfield to finish in second place, just two points behind champions Keighley. The club succeeded in winning the Second Division Championship in the 1994–95 season. However, when the Super League was created for the following year, Batley along with Keighley were excluded. The club estimated that the decision cost them around £500,000.[4]

Summer rugby era[edit]


Batley added 'Bulldogs' to their name for the 1996 season. The newly named Batley Bulldogs finished 1996 at the foot of Division One. Batley won the Trans-Pennine Trophy in 1998 beating Oldham in the final held at Mount Pleasant. Batley were also promoted from the Second Division that same season.

In 2003, Barry Eaton broke the world record for consecutive goal kicks.

The club underwent a major shake up in the coaching staff with the resignation of head coach David Ward due to pressure from some supporters in the form of derisory comments in the local press. The new coaching first team set up involved Gary Thornton as Head Coach and Paul Harrison.

After a tough season in 2005 Batley were into National League One relegation play-offs, facing bitter rivals and neighbours Dewsbury. Victory in the final saw Batley stay up against increasingly well funded sides with Super League ambitions.

2006 saw Batley start the campaign with little promise after a series of dismal performances in the Northern Rail Cup and the early rounds of National League One. However, coach Gary Thornton turned the side round and Batley made their way into the end of season play-offs. Jay Duffy's late drop goal sealed a 23-22 victory at Leigh to end the Lancastrians' own hopes of promotion and ultimately earn Thornton the honour of National League coach of the year. Batley failed to replicate this success in the next round, crashing to a 30-0 defeat at Whitehaven to put an abrupt end to their season.

After the previous season's mid-table finish 2009 started as a bad season for Batley. Gary Thornton resigned after a 60-22 loss on Easter Monday against Toulouse Olympique He was replaced by Karl Harrison. Batley stayed up after a 30-24 over Featherstone Rovers in which Batley were 14-0 down at one stage, they also beat Leigh, Widnes, Barrow, Whitehaven and Halifax.

2010 started for Batley with 5 wins and 1 draw in the Northern Rail Cup, including a record breaking 100-4 win over Gateshead Thunder. Batley had a good run of wins in the Challenge Cup however they were defeated 74-12 by Catalans Dragons in the Quarter Final. Batley's Co-operative Championship season commenced well with wins over Keighley 22-12, Dewsbury 22-8, Whitehaven 54-6 and Widnes 35-16 to see the club finish in 7th position. Having finished top of their Northern Rail group section, the club entered the knock-out stages. A strong performance away at Leigh in the semi-final, where Batley were clear underdogs, put them into the final on 18 July 2010, where they beat Widnes with two late tries scored by Alex Brown. It was Batley's first silverware since 1998.

2011 saw Batley finish 3rd in the Championship, later to be knocked out of the play-offs by Halifax, whom the Batley coach, Karl Harrison headed to take over for the 2012 season. Batley also took Huddersfield Giants close in their Challenge Cup quarter-final clash at Mount Pleasant. Batley had the lead throughout the game until Dane Manning was shown a red card at around 65 minutes for what many fans of both sides thought unfair. Huddersfield took the one man advantage and managed to outscore the Bulldogs in the last 15 minutes of the game.

2012 saw the arrival of John Kear taking over as head coach of Batley. Batley started 2012 winning the Northern Rail group which saw wins over Championship rivals Featherstone Rovers and Keighley. They also started the Championship season off strong with wins over Leigh, Dewsbury, York City Knights, Keighley and Halifax and a double over Hunslet but defeats came to Featherstone Rovers, Sheffield, Keighley at home, and Swinton Lions.

In April 2016 it was announced Matt Diskin was to take over at Batley Bulldogs from 2017 after John Kear announced he would be joining Wakefield Wildcats as director of rugby in 2017.[5]

2017 squad[edit]

2017 Batley Bulldogs Squad
First team squad Coaching staff

Head coach

Assistant coaches

  • (c) Captain
  • (vc) Vice captain
  • Cruz Roja.svg Injured

Updated: 2 December 2016
Source(s): 2017 Squad Numbers

2018 transfers[edit]


Player Club Contract length Date
England Michael Ward Oldham Roughyeds 1 Year September 2017
England Johnny Campbell Bradford Bulls 1 Year September 2017
England Tommy Holland Whitehaven RLFC 1 Year October 2017


Player Club Contract length Date


Major titles

Competition Wins Years won
RFL Championship / Super League 1 1923–24
Challenge Cup 3 1896–97, 1897–98, 1900–01

Other titles

Competition Wins Years won
RFL Yorkshire League 2 1898–99, 1923–24
RFL Yorkshire Cup 1 1912–13
RFU Yorkshire Cup 1 1885
Championship Cup 1 2010
Trans-Pennine Cup 1 1998

Past coaches[edit]

Players earning international caps while at Batley[edit]

Other notable players[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "History". Batley Bulldogs. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  2. ^ "Operational Rules". RFL. Retrieved 10 March 2017. 
  3. ^ Delaney, Trevor (1991). The Grounds Of Rugby League. Keighley: Trevor R. Delaney. ISBN 0-9509-9822-2. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Diskin new coach 2017". Batley Bulldogs. 

External links[edit]