KEIGHLEY Cougars are this evening excited to announce the capture of hot prospect Bobby Darbyshire.

The 19-year old utility back arrives at Cougar Park on a one-year deal following his departure from Super League outfit Wakefield Trinity.

Bobby’s arrival also sees another hometown boy join the ranks of the club, with Darbyshire not only from the town of Keighley, but also a product of local community club Keighley Albion.

Playing out of either the halves or at full-back, Bobby caught the eye at a young age as he came through the system at Keighley Albion.

His performances would see him be one of a number of Albion players signed up by Wakefield for their academy side ahead of the 2019 campaign, along with teammates Nico Devittoris and Josh Slingsby.

During his first season at the Mobile Rocket Stadium, Darbyshire was a regular in the Trinity Under-19’s side as he made 16 appearances as well as also making a further 3 appearances in the reserves side, one of which was against the Cougars.

Back at community level, Bobby was leading by example as he captained the Keighley Albion Under 18’s side to a league and cup treble, putting in a man of the match performance as his side defeated Dewsbury Celtic in the Under-18’s Continuation Cup final at Batley.

However, the lasting affects of the COVID-19 epidemic would ripple through the sport and the decision was taken to suspend the Reserves Championship and academy competitions.

This would then result in a lasting financial hole for clubs involved in these competitions and the decision was taken to disband the Reserves Championship, leaving Darbyshire as one of many talented young players across the sport to be released.

Assistant Coach Dean Muir would be alerted to the back’s availability and informed Rhys Lovegrove who subsequently took Bobby on trial.

The attitude, determination, and skill, of Darbyshire impressed the Cougars Head Coach who has now made the decision to secure his services on a permanent basis for the 2021 season.

Lovegrove said: “Bobby is an exciting local talent, and I am pleased to bring him back to his hometown after his time with Wakefield.

“He has settled in really well during training, and he has the desire to push and establish himself within the squad.

“Bobby also has a strong desire to learn and develop himself both as a Rugby League player and as a young man.

“I am now excited to see how he performs with the attacking possibilities we will create with the systems that we have in place.”

Chairman Mick O’Neill added: “I am very pleased to welcome Bobby to the club as our latest signing.

“He is a homegrown Keighley lad and another product of the system at Keighley Albion, and I believe the more the merrier when it comes to players from both the town, and Albion, pulling on a Cougars jersey.

“Bobby also has the experience of coming through a Super League academy set-up too which I believe will make him very valuable to the club and a leading light as he continues to develop.

“He is a very exciting young player, especially at just the age of 19, and will provide value to the squad as he can play at a number of positions across the backline.

“This particular addition reminds me of Cougarmania back in the 90’s when we would sign both exciting young players and experienced heads, to lead them both on and off the field, which provided a great mixture in the dressing room.

“I am now looking forward to seeing Bobby take to the field and help get this club back to where it belongs, which is in the Championship.”

By Joshua Chapman