YOU would be hard pushed to find a team in the Bradford Premier League which has faced as much drama as Conference side Rodley in the past six years.

In the summer of 2012, they were one of the best cricketing sides in the Dales Council League and, as usual, were on the hunt for league and cup glory.

That all changed one July afternoon when a home match against leaders Apperley Bridge, which was nearing a conclusion, was abandoned due to rain.

So upset were they at the alleged abuse they were subjected to, Rodley arranged an extraordinary general meeting, with the club's members voting unanimously to resign from the league with immediate effect.

This annus horribilis was worsened by the deaths of two club stalwarts, Mark Dufton and Dave Fenton.

However, popular chairman Steve Bradbury, who won the Bradford League's unsung hero award in 2017, believes that the traumatic events of 2012 actually awoke Rodley from their slumber.

Speaking to the Telegraph and Argus, he said: "That year was a dark time for the club. But even though we were having lots of success in the Dales Council League, the club was about to die. We had an ageing squad that was growing old together.

"We had no facilities, no junior clubs or anything. After the Apperley Bridge incident and losing Mark and Dave, it would have been easier for the club to pack up and walk away from cricket.

"But we knew Mark and Dave wouldn't have wanted that and we felt it was worth trying to play cricket elsewhere to see what we could do.

"What happened that summer was a catalyst for change."

Rodley were accepted into the Central Yorkshire League in 2013, which was also the year in which they formed their first junior team.

They have a thriving programme for youngsters now, but it was a case of humble beginnings five years ago. Bradbury laughed: "Originally, the only player was my youngest son.

"We went into schools to beg and convince kids to join and somehow we formed a team of eight for our first game.

"We didn't win a lot of games because those kids were starting to play cricket so late, at the ages of nine or 10, and they struggled in their respective age groups.

"We've really progressed since then though, and our junior set-up now has five teams and around 80 kids involved.

"Five players from our juniors have already gone on to play senior cricket, with one of them, Dan Turbitt, making his first Bradford League 50 for the second team last season."

Rodley, who also opened a brand new pavilion in July 2015, have played in the Bradford Premier League Conference since 2016, when the Central Yorkshire League and the Bradford Cricket League merged.

Their results have left them fighting at the foot of the table over the past three years, but Bradbury does not find this surprising.

He explained: "We're still adjusting. We were a big fish in a small pond in the Dales Council League and now it's the opposite.

"The cricket is of a decent standard in the Dales Council but the facilities aren't the best. It's less social and more professional in the Bradford Premier League too."

Other Bradford Premier League teams may be more successful, but they cannot lay claim to a pair of world records like Rodley.

In August 2016, the club broke the Guinness World Record for the most overs bowled in an eight-hour period. A year later, they attempted to do the same, but this time over 24 hours.

Bradbury remembers the "extended" net session well, saying: "Someone suggested the 24-hour record attempt and we just laughed it off at first.

"But it got legs and it grew and thanks to our really committed volunteers, we pulled it off.

"It was much harder than we expected and we needed scorers and umpires too, as well as batsmen and bowlers. I left mid-afternoon then came back at 2am to do my umpiring stint.

"Seeing lots of new faces really brightened things up and when dawn arrived, it really was a tremendous feeling."

Away from the nets and on to the pitch, first team captain Rob Young sees plenty of potential at the club, with some teenage talents leading the way.

Rodley finished bottom of the Conference in 2016 and 2017 but six wins last season saw them finish 10th out of 12, and not too far from mid-table security.

Young suggested that a reason for that improvement was the emergence of some impressive youngsters, with one player in particular standing out.

He enthused: "We have an 18-year-old bowler called Dave Charles. We wanted to bring him up to the first team to see if he was ready to play at this level.

"He was scratching around a bit in the first few weeks, but then something clicked. He took four wickets in one game, five in the next and there was no stopping him after that. He ended up as our leading wicket-taker.

"We have about five lads that are all under 19 that have really got the potential to kick on."

Asked whether these teenagers were the long-term future of Rodley, 31-year-old Young mused: "It's hard to look that far forward because I stopped playing at university for example, and it took me a while to get back into cricket.

"We're doing everything we can to create a pathway for the youngsters though and we've introduced a third team into the Dales Council League for 2019, which will allow players to get regular Saturday cricket.

"The first team are always trying to push forward too. We finished 10th in 2018 and if a couple of close results had gone our way, it could have been eighth.

"Sixth to eighth would be realistic progress for us next season."