If you take the train from Leeds to Manchester, you will no doubt have stopped at Mytholmroyd station, a small village in West Yorkshire until now most famous for the Poet Laureate Ted Hughes.

Were you to look down from the brooding village’s Scout Rocks that featured in one of Hughes’s more famous works, you would see nestled in the valley bottom, Mytholmroyd Cricket Club.

Mytholmroyd CC has been long established in the men’s game, with this year seeing the centenary of one of their Halifax Parish Cup victories in 1924.

However, it is only recently that a women’s and girls section has been established, and despite the club only being in existence for a couple of summers, the Royd Rebelles have gone from strength to strength both on and off the pitch.

We spoke to captain Sophie Gollop, who revealed how a fabulous winter – involving some indoor cricket silverware – has strengthened a love affair with our beautiful game for herself and her team-mates in this corner of Calderdale.

“Our women’s and girls section began with very humble beginnings, with just a few keen individuals playing friendlies before progressing to entering a league affiliated to the Yorkshire Women’s and Girls Cricket League a couple of seasons ago.

“Initially our inexperience showed a little, and whilst we could see ourselves improving we were generally towards the bottom of the table.

“But we were keen to improve and keep enjoying the game, so we entered

the Calderdale Women’s and Girls six-a-side softball Indoor Cricket League this winter hosted at The Cricket Asylum in Sowerby Bridge.

“What began as useful practice ahead of this summer’s outdoor competition became something a little more competitive because we finished third out of 10 teams and qualified for a Finals Day alongside Bradshaw, Blackley and King Cross.

Picture by SHutterbug Photography. Captain Sophie Gollop (centre, far side) talks to her team as Royd Rebelles take the field in a tournament at Sowerby Bridge last season.

“And we ended up winning that, beating Bradshaw in the final, to qualify for the West Yorkshire finals at the start of March in Bradford, which we again won by beating a very good Crossflatts team with some experienced hard ball players.

“One of our top players, Ruth Woodhead, got injured running off the penultimate ball. But we ended up winning off the last ball, which was pretty dramatic.

“So, from entering the league for some practice and to keep playing during the off season, we found ourselves as Calderdale and West Yorkshire champions with a place in the full Yorkshire county finals the following weekend. We were blown away by it!

“From 110 teams who had originally entered, we were down to the last three – ourselves, Wickersley Vixens and York University.

“As it played out, we were beaten in the final by a very strong Wickersley team who were deserving winners. We took the runners-up prize having beaten York University earlier in the day.”

Still, they finished their indoor campaign with two titles.

Any triumph for a sporting team will mean a lot, but every now and again a success story comes along which strikes you as different.

This falls into that category given its wider context in helping to grow the game and inspiring players already involved or those interested in getting involved.

“As I said earlier we started as just a group of just eight girls playing some friendlies in Calderdale,” continued Gollop. “But the West Yorkshire Women and Girls Softball League has very much exploded, and we have loved being a part of that.

“The number of girls that are now playing for us has increased significantly.

“We have 30 names on our squad list (aged 10-60), and this summer we’re going to be fielding teams in two divisions. The league has developed so quickly, and it’s a really exciting thing to be a part of.

Picture by SHutterbug Photography. Calderdale and West Yorkshire indoor champions Royd Rebelles captain Sophie Gollop (left) and vice-captain Julie Henderson.

“This is about so much more than just winning.

“Of course it was really nice to take a couple of trophies back to the clubhouse, but for the long-term future of the game, I believe having women’s teams is so important and helps with the growth of all clubs involved.

“It will in turn boost the juniors because many of the players have children who are keen to get involved on the back of the success we have had.

“It’s just wonderful to be a part of something which is growing so fast in Yorkshire and beyond.”

And if you keep your eyes peeled, you may well see the West Yorkshire Indoor champs at Headingley.

“We’ve already organised a trip to go and watch the England v Pakistan women’s game as a team day out at Headingley in May,” said Gollop.

“There has been significant interest for trips like this as when you’re learning those skills yourself, you start to put yourself in the shoes of players who you see on TV.

Away from the game, Gollop works as a lightning manufacturer. Incidentally, Northern Diamonds Academy player Elicia Pollard works for the same company.

Gollop was keen to mention the team’s two coaches who have helped develop and push forward the Royd Rebelles, Glenn Kershaw and Scott Henderson.

Picture by SHutterbug Photography. Mytholmroyd CC’s first ever senior team women and girls player, Emily Morgan (front) in action last season with batting partner Imogen Henderson.

“Without those two, we wouldn’t have had the success we have had over the last few months,” she says.

In a recent Facebook post, Sophie also paid tribute to the Yorkshire Cricket Board, chiefly women and girls league manager Katie Stewart, for her work and that of the Board in general in promoting the women’s game so well.

Now, though, it is about transferring their recent indoor success into their outdoor cricket and trying to progress up the West Yorkshire Women’s and Girls Calderdale Region Division A.

“It’s clearly a very different game indoors to out,” said Gollop.

“This winter it’s allowed us to concentrate on tightening up our bowling and our fielding.

“With the batting, one of our downfalls outside was not having enough batters who could score quickly enough to build competitive totals. What we’ve learnt indoors is the importance of hitting the ball into gaps, which will benefit us hugely when we get outside.

“And our success indoors has taught us how to get over the line and win games when matches come down to the wire.”

She added: “We head into the summer with two teams, one in a development division and the other in the higher, competitive division.

“On the wider front, the club fields two senior teams, which until very recently have been made up solely by male players.

“One of our greatest successes to date was one of our players, Emily Morgan, being selected in the second team last year, becoming the first female to play in a senior team in over 100 years of club cricket. To top that off, she received the fielding award on the day.

“Emily is off to University in September, but before she goes is moving to Booth Cricket Club to help them develop their first ever women’s team.

“It’s sad for us that she is leaving us, but we’re fully supportive because it just means more women and girls playing the game and an extra team in the league.

“That can only be a good thing for everyone.”

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