Mourners pay tribute to Doncaster’s ‘Mr Badminton’

Brian Keefe
Brian Keefe

The Doncaster badminton fraternity turned out in force yesterday to mark the passing of Brian Keefe.

He remained a legendary figure within the sport following his retirement from playing and coached hundreds of local youngsters.

Brian was a stalwart of the Pilkington's club and as well as playing for the men's, mixed and combined team he also held down key official posts such as chairman, treasurer and secretary over the years.

Brian, who died late last month following a heart attack, played for Yorkshire for nearly 30 years.

He made his debut in 1952 and by the time he decided to step down in 1980, he had amassed a record 144 caps.

His record stood until 2004.

Brian captained the Yorkshire team for many years as he did the Doncaster Town first team in the Yorkshire Inter-Town League.

In 1986 Brian partnered Cheshire's Bill Andrew to the All-England Masters Men's Over-45 title.

Following his retirement from the Yorkshire team, Brian put his extra leisure time to good use and formed numerous 'coaching cells' within the borough.

The best known of which was the Doncaster Centre of Excellence based at Adwick Leisure Centre.

Local players such as Mike Adams, Carl Fenton and Steve Parry, all of whom enjoyed success at international level, developed and honed their skills under Brian at the centre.

Brian also used to base one of his junior coaching clinics at Adwick.

He was an outspoken critic of the recent re-development of the sports hall which brought about an end to badminton at the centre.

“Brian rightly believed that without helping and encouraging juniors that badminton in the district would wither,” said Parry,

“In my humble opinion you would be hard pressed to find a finer man. He was loyal, honest, dedicated and very caring.”

Brian also played cricket for Pilkington’s in the now defunct Doncaster & District League.