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Otley are buoyant as James Twomey closes in on Mark Kirkby's record
What a difference nine months makes.
Last April, Otley hosted Stockport needing a victory to boost their survival chances in SSE National League Two North.
On Saturday, the clubs met again at Cross Green with Otley in fourth place.
Otley won 32-27 last spring and 32-22 last weekend, and Otley’s interim chief executive Ryan Duckett said: “In April, we were desperate for a victory to stay up.
“Last Saturday, we got five points but were disappointed in how we achieved them, which shows how far we have come.
“But while we didn’t like conceding 22 points, it should be remembered that there are no easy games in this division.”
Winger James Twomey scored two tries for Otley at the weekend, taking him to 63 tries, which is only 11 behind Otley’s leading league try-scorer Mark Kirkby.
Twomey only made his debut for the Cross Greeners on September 5, 2009, and Duckett said: “James’ try-scoring record is phenomenal, and he has also done it at a higher level.
“He forms a good combination with Michael Coady, and we also have a good pairing at half-back in the experienced Steve Depledge and young Ben Cooper, who is likely to miss Saturday’s league match at Bromsgrove with an ankle injury.
“We haven’t selected a side at the time of talking but we have three or four options for goal-kicker, although it will probably depend on who plays at No 10.
“Also the pack have improved since last year, and we have an experienced front row in Adam Blades and Ben Steele, and when Simon Willett and Tom O’Donnell return from injury we will have some real competition for places in the forwards.”
Good news on the playing side has, however, been put into context by the death of club stalwart Colin Gamble at the age of 76.
Duckett said: “I first came down to Otley in 1997 and Colin has been a major part of the club as a player, administrator and fund-raiser.”
‘Big Col’, who was brought up at Buttoner House Farm at Lindley and later lived at Bank Top Farm, Arthington, died in Leeds General Infirmary on New Year’s Eve and had been involved with the club for 40 years.
His duties included touch judge and bag man for the first team and the Luddites, groundsman, duty officer, committee member, member of the Wednesday Gang, mini-rugby coach (for eight years), fund-raiser and event organiser.
Colin’s funeral will be at St Giles’ Church, Bramhope next Tuesday (11.30am).