Accrington-born Sky commentator and former England cricketer David Lloyd is a loyal follower of Accrington Stanley and President of Accrington Cricket Club. Here he answers a host of questions on topical issues ...
YOU WERE KEEN TO BUY YOUR NEW SHARES IN ACCRINGTON STANLEY. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
I don’t buy many shares in things. I bought some in a Dragon oil, an Irish company, and I certainly don’t do it to make money! For me, buying some shares in Stanley, is buying a piece of nostalgia and the chance to own a bit of my club. You don’t get many chances to do that.
I tweeted to get people to buy as well and I think we are approaching double figures of people who have pledged to buy a share (through Twitter).
I am also going to embarrass Michael Vaughan until he buys a share. He said he would but it’s hard to persuade Yorkshiremen to part with money. I am seeing him in December so he won’t get away with it.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE FOR STANLEY?
The club are stable and there are some really good plans which should work well in the future but they will take time. We have just got to go on supporting John Coleman as he has been superb for the club. I went down to buy my shares and Coley and the players were training on the pitch.
He came and sat in the stands with me and he is a keen cricket fan. He was talking about coming over to watch England v Pakistan and I have said I will sort him out. We are also going to re-introduce the Accrington CC v Accrington FC pre-season cricket friendly as Coley reckons he is quite good at cricket!
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER FROM ACCRINGTON’S EXIT FROM THE LEAGUE 50 YEARS AGO?
I just remember it being really sad and no one really saw it coming. But there was little interest in the team, they weren’t getting the crowds and it was gutting. I played for them a bit around 1963 in the Lancashire Combination after they resigned from the Football League.
I do feel passionately about the club, it’s very easy to support Manchester United or Chelsea. At least I don’t get any grief when I say I support Accrington Stanley – people don’t know what to say. When you go to the Crown Ground, you know you aren’t going to watch Barcelona but you are close to the pitch and it’s your town. My son and grandchildren go and that’s the way it should be.
HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT LANCASHIRE WINNING THE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP?
I didn’t tip them, I tipped them to be closer to the bottom, so don’t trust my tips! Seventy-seven years is a long time and they have done really well and it shows what you can do.
We had to do a lot of it away from Old Trafford too, at Liverpool, Southport and Blackpool so we had to do it the hard way. It’s just a shame there aren’t the facilities in East Lancashire where Lancashire could play so people could get more chance to see them around here.
I don’t see a lot of Lancashire with my Sky international commitments and I don’t know many of the players now but I keep in touch with Gary Keedy and Glen Chapple. I spoke to Chappy as soon as they had won the title and he was ecstatic.
There was good banter between me and Ashley Giles as Warwickshire pushed us all the way. I must admit, even though they are Lancashire’s rivals, I didn’t like Yorkshire being relegated. I have a lot of friends over there.
DO YOU THINK THE LANCASHIRE LEAGUE NEEDS LIVENING UP? THERE HAS BEEN SUGGESTIONS FOR NO PROFESSIONALS OR OVER OVERSEAS AMATEURS?
I think the Lancashire League could do with a revamp as it’s about entertainment for the fans and the players.
Gone are the days of top class professionals and the glory days are never going to come back. It is a massive headache getting professionals with work permits, visas, getting one for the season due to the numerous international teams and it’s hard. At Accrington we have gone down the road of getting a pro based in Manchester and thankfully Ashar Zaidi has turned out to be a good one.
There have been suggestions for overseas amateurs instead but you still have the same problem of do you get them a job, who pays for where they stay, and such like.
There has been innuendos about clubs paying amateurs in the past but perhaps clubs could pay their amateurs although it could be watched by a salary cap. These are all just thoughts.
For games, maybe it could be based on international regulations with 50 overs and bowlers limited to 10 overs or maybe one can bowl 14 and then four could bowl nine. I think that could help to prolong the careers of people like Dibber (David Ormerod) by restricting the overs and will also help to develop bowlers. I guess it would mean clubs going for batting pros but not necessarily, they will probably go for good all-rounders. We could also copy international ideas like power plays. It’s all about getting spectators back and wanting to watch Lancashire League cricket again.
I think the influential people within the league need to get together and thrash ideas out. The likes of Jon Fielding, Bryan Knowles, Mick Deasey, David Pearson – people who have been in the game a long time, know all about the league and perhaps could come up with a formula to bring back the fans. It is time though to move on I think and the Lancashire League hasn’t.
It’s not just the Lancashire League – it’s the same at county level and in any sports as there are so many other distractions nowadays. The ECB have got a headache at the moment as crowds are dwindling at cricket matches and clubs are depending on the Sky TV money to keep going with a new deal negotiated in a couple of years.
County cricket has the championship games, the Twenty20, the 40-over matches – perhaps they could turn games to three-dayers instead of four days; perhaps they could play the Twenty20 as a block in the season then they are out of the way or perhaps the County Championship could be limited to 10 matches then international contracted players can perhaps play for their county. Not that I would like bowlers doing that. I can understand batsmen but bowlers, I would wrap them in cotton wool to prolong their careers. It is a headache all-round.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ACCRINGTON CRICKET CLUB?
We want to build practice facilities, an all-weather facility – make it for the community and not just for the club and really push it for people to come down and use it. We need to develop things like this more. It costs, with the professional, about £25,000 to run the club a year and the committee do a great job of running the club but we are looking at developing it further.