BEN Steele, already Otley’s record league appearance maker, racked up another milestone in last Saturday’s 26-26 SSE National League Two North draw at home to Caldy.

The 31-year-old made his 250th league appearance, and Otley’s director of rugby James Tiffany knows what a notable landmark that is.

He said: “To make so many appearances as a one-club man is a massive achievement in these days of professional rugby.

“We have come through some difficult times and he has stood by us.”

Two other Otley stalwarts were also keen to praise one of their own, with former director of rugby and rugby chairman Mike Wright writing in Saturday’s programme: “You know my view of hookers.

“They are best when abrasive, aggravating buggers – it brings out the best in the props and all those behind.

“Ben met that criteria and has stayed the course very well at the sharp end for many seasons at Cross Green.

“Anyone who sticks his head in the front of a scrum with both arms behind his back for more than ten seasons deserves a medal!”

Peter Clegg – another former director of rugby at Otley – was also effusive in his praise for Steele, saying: “I’m delighted to congratulate Ben on this outstanding achievement.

“To play 250 games, especially at hooker, with one club deserves all our congratulations.

“Ben’s commitment to Otley’s cause has never been in doubt and I’m proud to have been involved with Ben’s early development with the Otley first XV.”

Former Cross Green junior Steele made his first-team debut on November 15, 2003 at Henley in what is now the Greene King IPA Championship.

Steele, who has never been tempted to stray from Otley, remembered the day clearly.

He said: “I was nervous beforehand – all I could think of was the line-out. But I got 100 per cent in that match and I think I got 100 per cent against Caldy. Mind you, I haven’t got 100 per cent in all 250!”

Steele added: “I never thought I would make 250 league appearances when I started – 100 maybe – and as for the future, I am taking it one season at a time!”

Otley had a fine junior team when Steele was breaking through, winning several Yorkshire trophies as well as going on an under-15 club tour to Canada.

He also represented Yorkshire and the North of England, culminating in playing for England at under-18 level.

Promotion to the Saracens eventually followed at Cross Green and then the first team.

Memorably, he was in the side that came so close to defeating Harlequins at Otley two seasons after his debut.

Club president David Somers wrote in last weekend’s programme: “Congratulations Ben Steele, the epitome of a total clubman. We look forward to seeing many of the talented youngsters of today following in your footsteps.”