STEETON boss Roy Mason will hit the magic 500-game mark this week, a milestone he says he is "massively proud of".

The long-serving boss has been at the Chevrons helm for over 15 years, and has helped transform them from a struggling West Riding County Amateur League First Division side into an exciting North West Counties League First Division North outfit.

He reaches his quintuple century tonight in the West Riding County Cup at Harrogate Railway, and game 501 is due to be a packed out thriller at home to phoenix club Bury AFC in the league next Monday.

Talking about his achievement, Mason said: "It's a significant milestone and one I'm massively proud of.

"When I took the job, I never anticipated that I'd get anywhere near 500 games.

"The club means a lot to me, and I'm privileged they've let me manage here this long."

It hasn't been all plain-sailing though, and Mason admitted in a previous interview with the Keighley News that he was finding things challenging to deal with earlier in the season.

But he said: "In football you have those highs and lows, and I tell my players to enjoy the highs, because you do have so many lows unfortunately, as I can testify having been here for 15 years.

"Football, and this club, have changed a lot since I came in and my first season was arguably tougher than any other,

"I only came in a couple of weeks before the season started and most of the players had just left.

"It was difficult to even just get a team out at first, but I was tasked with keeping us in the County Amateur First Division, and after we stayed up, we soon got into the Premier Division.

"But to go from that to now being established in non-league like we are is special, and lots of energy and effort has had to go in on and off the pitch to make that happen.

"Since we've gone up to the North West Counties, we've had the complications of having to play at Cougar Park and making the move to Marley, so it's nice for this to be our first full season in the division where everything is running smoothly behind the scenes."

One of Mason's proudest achievements was reaching the West Riding County Challenge Cup final at Elland Road in 2014, but even those days are in the past now, with prospective cup opponents now including Bradford (Park Avenue) and FC Halifax Town, as opposed to sides like Field and Goole United.

Talking about what it's like to be facing the big boys, Mason said: "Taking on clubs of this size is special, as is being in a county cup competition.

"You always prioritise the league, but it's nice to have a good run in the cup.

"If we can beat Harrogate tonight, then we'll face a tough quarter-final at Brighouse, but it's another chance to pit our wits against a team from a higher level, and we can just go out and enjoy it."

After that comes the mouthwatering Bank Holiday Monday clash at Marley against unbeaten Bury, a game Mason cannot wait for.

He said: "We've played Bury twice since they came into our league last season and pushed them hard both times, only losing 3-2 and 4-3.

"We've had a go at them in both games, and it nearly paid off for us.

"It's a bit of a free hit in the sense that they're second in the table and unbeaten, but they're not exactly running away with it this season, and we've already shown we can give them a close game."

A huge crowd is set to turn up for that game next Monday, and Mason enthused: "As of today (Monday) we've sold just shy of 600 tickets.

"I was at Campion's game when they hosted Bury on Saturday as we had a free weekend and they told me they'd sold 100 on the day, so we're looking at a crowd of around 750 probably for next week, which is fantastic for us.

"When I first arrived, we'd often have crowds of about 10 people, which shows just how far we've come.

"Hopefully we can go and enjoy that big occasion next Monday, with no real pressure, and give ourselves a chance.

"We've gone close against them a couple of times as I said, so why not try and make it third time lucky?"