BEN Hornby goes about his business like he’s no big deal. Always smiles for the fans, plays it straight with the press - and never, ever, beats his own drum.
But yesterday at the Dragons’ season launch someone pointed out a fact that never would have been mentioned if it was up to Ben Hornby. When he runs out next Thursday night in the season opener against Wayne Bennett’s Knights, it will mark his 250th appearance in first grade for the red and whites.
It puts him second on the all-time list behind only Norm Provan, who holds the club record with 256 games.
So, at some stage this season (barring injury or a Mars invasion), Hornby will grab hold of Provan’s record and run right away with it.
As Dean Young explained: “It’s unbelievable.”
Especially when you consider the legends he leaves in his wake. Think of the greatest Dragons of all time. Johnny Raper, Reg Gasnier, Graeme Langlands, Norm Provan, Billy Smith, Ken Kearney, Ian Walsh, Craig Young …
Now ask yourself this: where should the current captain take his place in this illustrious line-up?
“If you look at Benny, he’ll be the first to admit he wasn’t blessed with God-given speed or size but for him to play this many games shows how dedicated he has been over such a long period of time,” Young continued. “How patient he has been, how loyal he has been to the club.”
Loyalty and longevity, it means everything to a footy club - and it’s why the 32-year-old remains such an inspiration to his teammates, if not the rest of the league
After making his debut back in 2000, he only ever played one Test for Australia and three Origins for NSW.
But for the Dragons, he always played his heart out.
Which brings us back to next Thursday night’s season kick-off, and the expectations (or lack of them) being placed on a team the bookies have basically given up on.
No Bennett, no Boyd, no Gasnier … most experts agree, it all adds up to no hope.
But Hornby sees it differently to the rest of us, who struggle to look beyond the Bennett-factor. Asked yesterday how they could possibly maintain their motivation that has made them the league’s benchmark for three years now, Hornby went one better.“We don’t look at it as trying to stay up, we look at it as trying to get better,” he said. "It’s a different mindset then just trying to stay somewhere."And with that, he said it all.
“You and the rest of the media might not give him the wraps he deserves but he knows the players will always appreciate what he does,” Young added
“He is one of the most unselfish players I have ever played with, all the boys love being led by him.”
And that’s why he’s earned the right to stand alongside the Dragons’ all-time greats.
How can Hornby be only 6 games behind Proven when they played for two different teams? Its like saying Chris Heighington is only 23 games behind Keith Holman’s 203 games for the club, or 66 games behind Paul Sironens 246 games. They are truley dillusional when it comes to their identity
The thing that annoys me is [censored]y St George supporters who carry on saying “we won 11 premierships in a row”. It’d be like us saying the Wests Tigers have won 16 premierships, when you add the success of Balmain, Western Suburbs and the Wests Tigers together. Just more reasons to hate the Dragons I spose.