Cricket legend David Lloyd was bowled over by his true sporting love at the tender age of seven. Sitting on the doorstep of his childhood home – 134 Water Street, Accrington – the young Bumble watched eagerly for his team of heroes to appear at the top of the road.
But it wasn’t the likes of Ashes stars Len Hutton and Typhoon Tyson the lad was waiting for . . . but Accrington Stanley’s 1954 line-up of footie stars. Revisiting his old house and fond memories, Bumble says: “This is where it all started; I used to sit on this step as the crowds were coming up from town. The football ground was way up there somewhere, and most importantly, I used to wait for the footballers who actually lived in the next street. I still vividly remember the lads walking up this street with their football boots under their arms.” The team of the day was even closer to home for Bumble’s auntie Edith, who had the mammoth task of managing them all . . . OFF the pitch. “My auntie was Accrington Stanley’s housekeeper at this huge place on Avenue Parade,” he recalls.
“You can imagine the scene – lots of young chaps – and all in need of being properly kept with food, washing and cleaning. It was a bit like Upstairs, Downstairs.” Bumble adds: “Even today at the age of 69 my ﬁrst love is football. “My business of course is cricket – that’s what people know me from – but nothing takes the place of my beloved Accrington Stanley.”
These days, after a long and illustrious career playing, coaching and commentating on cricket, ‘Bumble’ as he is aﬀectionately known, admits not only is he an ‘Accy Stanley’ super-fan – he would have bought the club if he’d had the cash. Now an unoﬃcial brand ambassador at ASFC, he likens his undying passion for ‘The Club That Wouldn’t Die’ to the famous football magazine series and subsequent book, ‘When Saturday Comes’. “That’s me,” he laughs. “When Saturday comes, nothing else matters. I’m watching football wall to wall. My work takes me out of the country for long periods, so if I’m not at the match and in Mumbai or Cape Town, the ﬁrst thing I do is get out the laptop or iPad to see how Stanley has gone on.”
Established in 1891, Accrington Stanley played in the Football League between 1921 and 1962, when the club became only the second ever to resign from the League mid-season. Says Bumble: “I remember vividly going out of the league. It was heart breaking for me and for lots of people in the area. The club was dormant for some time – but stubbornness brought it back into existence.
“Accrington people are stubborn, determined and get things done. There are a number of people here who were instrumental in getting things going for the club again; none more so than Eric Whalley, former chairman and manager Jimmy Hinksman who had a vision.”
In 1966 the club went into liquidation and the former management and team took their painful departure from the Peel Park ground. Today the pitch is a primary school sports ground. Surveying the former ﬁeld of dreams, Bumble sighs.
“The memories come ﬂooding back,” he says. “I’ve seen 15,000 people on here. And the fabric of the old place is still here; the skeleton of Accrington Stanley Peel Park.” Pointing to the far part of the former pitch Bumble adds: “You’ve got the old railings here now, but years ago and back in the day there’d be turnstiles all the way along here, your changing rooms, pie huts, you could get a bag of chips and then there were the changing rooms and opposite, where the bank of trees are, that was the old stand. It was a huge thing, an enormous stand, which they’d bought from a racecourse and it actually crippled the club; they couldn’t recover ﬁnancially from paying for it.”