KBGS Old Boys' Forum

A place to discuss Keighley Boys' Grammar School. 

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Re: Deaths of sporting legends

I suppose Gilbert Swift embodied the Corinthian spirit which was very much abroad when he was an active rugby player. The thought of a team like Keighley coming out as top dog in the white rose county would be unthinkable in the modern era following the advent of professional rugby union. Let's face it teams like Leeds Tykes are as professional as any rugby league team. And 7,000 is a healthy crowd at any rugby union ground, even now. Keighley will never see the likes of Gilbert Swift again.

Re: Deaths of sporting legends

Gilbert Swift also represented a different era in the history of the teaching profession. It seems he stayed at KBGS for 39 years. This has to be virtually unheard of nowadays. I wonder how many of the staff of KBGS who taught me also had very lenghtly careers at the school.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) sjspye@hotmail.com

Re: Deaths of sporting legends

It's hard to imagine the somewhat crusty Gilbert Swift as a stentorian sergeant major. I definitely saw him as more of the officer class. And no doubt did the Yorkshire Rugby Union when they elected him president.

Deaths of sporting legends

The original posting:

Keighley News: First published on Saturday 15 January 2000
Deaths of sporting legends
GILBERT SWIFT and Tim Fletcher, team mates in Keighley's most successful rugby union team, died this week. Together with the other members of the Keighlians team of 1948 they swept all before them, beating Sheffield 17-0 in the Shield Final at Otley and then beating Otley 14-9 in the Yorkshire Cup final. That match, played on April 10, 1948, is still remembered by those who were old enough to be in the 7,000 crowd which packed Skipton's Sandylands ground, and the players returned to a heroes welcome in Keighley. That team is still the only one ever to win the Cup and Shield in the same season.

Gilbert S Swift was captain of the Keighlians team, joining the Keighley club from Fylde after becoming sportsmaster at Keighley Boys Grammar School, later Oakbank Grammar School, in 1935, a post he held until 1974. He was born in Workington and trained at Goldsmith Teachers' Training College in London and Carnegie Physical Training College. He represented London Universities at Rugby and was also Light Heavyweight Boxing champion. He also represented Cumberland and Westmorland in the Rugby Union county Championship. He had also been tipped for national trials, but the war years interrupted his playing career. During the war he served in the Army Physical Training Corps reaching the rank of Company Sergeant Major, before returning to the school.

Mr Swift was not only a committed teacher, but arranged out of hours coaching, travelled with school sports teams and took younger boys for English, which he also taught in the evenings at Keighley Technical College.

In the mid-60's he became a founder member of the Yorkshire Schools' Sports Federation and was chairman in 1969-70. For 37 years he also took boys from the school on the annual camp to Kirkcudbright in Scotland. In his retirement he played golf and loved fishing, but the Keighley Rugby Union club was his first love. He was a committee member for many years, was President in 1952 and in 1951 was appointed to represent Yorkshire Schools on the Yorkshire Rugby Union Committee, serving until 1971.

His highest honour came in the 1967-68 season when he became President
of the Yorkshire rugby Union. Upon his retirement the Keighlians magazine reported: "He was a member of staff without which schools and such-like communities just cannot fulfil their functions -- loyal, tireless and regardless of hours, in love with the job. His great patience and good humour have been noteworthy, and no boy in the gym or elsewhere could have had a kinder or more skillful attention."

He died on Tuesday, aged 85, in Herncliffe Nursing Home and is survived by his wife, Dorothy, son Bob, daughter Diana, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A funeral service is to be held at Oakworth Crematorium on Tuesday, January 18, at noon.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) cpfirth@singnet.com.sg

Current location (optional) www.kbgs.com