GRAHAM Lloyd insists he always intended to rejoin his hometown club before hanging up his gloves and calling time on an illustrious cricketing career.
The ex England and Lancashire batsman has been at Merseyside club Bootle in recent years, but has handed Accrington a massive boost by agreeing to rejoin them as an amateur from next season.
Lloyd's return will provide impetus to hopes to turnaround the Thorneyholme Road outfit, and perhaps rekindle the glory days of his first spell at the club, when he was a prodigiously talented teenager.
Lloyd's father and TV pundit David has been fronting efforts to boost the club’s fortunes after it emerged last June it was nearing cash crisis. The team ended the season propping up the Lancashire League with only four wins after enduring a disappointing campaign.
Accrington-based Graham, 38, said it would have been "a real tragedy" if the club had folded, so it was an easy decision to make that five years after his retirement from the county game was the right time to return to his roots.
He told the Observer: “I started at Accy and I want to finish there. I've always promised that I wanted to do it and while I can still play a bit. Hopefully it will create more interest off the pitch. It seems pointless playing all those miles away, I'm happy to come back as I've been travelling 50 miles to Liverpool every weekend.”
A bonus for the club’s chairman Rod Kenyon is that Lloyd has agreed to return on amateur terms, while moves are afoot to bring in an overseas professional and possibly a couple of new amateurs.
Lloyd quipped: “I have sub-pro’d for Accy in the past and not done too well, so I'm sure they wouldn’t want me as pro. Plus it’s just nice to play without pressure.
“They are a good set of lads, and I know quite a few of them and there are some good people in the club. They have struggled for quite a while but they have some good young players and I think they will gel.”
A delighted Kenyon said Lloyd’s experience both in the team and off it coaching the youngsters, would be invaluable, while financially things were looking “positive”.
He added: “He's doing it out of loyalty to Accrington and not getting paid for it. He was one of the first to come to offer his help and it's a big boost for the club.”
And Lloyd has even set his sights on silverware, evoking memories of the triumphant victory in the 1986 Telegraph Cup final, in front of a packed crowd.
He said: “For one reason or another that team all went their separate ways shortly after winning the cup. It would be great to win something with Accy again.
“It’s a big club with lots of tradition. They had a close shave last year but I think they’re climbing out the other side now.”