Danny Lloyd is back at a club he credits with being a catalyst for his playing days not just thriving, but continuing at all. It is over three-and-a-half years since the attacking talent first joined Stockport County, at a time when he could quite easily have bid farewell to playing. The lively Scouser proved a sensation that season, bagging 29 goals and surpassing 20 assists for Jim Gannon’s then-National League North side.
The 28-year-old has earned two cracks at the EFL since, scoring goals in League One and Two with Peterborough United and Salford City. With the latter, last season brought another promotion for his CV, and how he would love to end his current loan spell with Stockport finally restored to League status. Here he reflects in detail on some of his experiences so far, with one golden regret, but a hatful more reasons to hold his head high.
In terms of conversations with Jim about coming back, your initial feelings on it, how has this move back to County played out?
Jim obviously went through my agent and the club, and there was a couple of other teams that were interested, but me going back to Stockport was a nice move because of my history with the club. Once it had been cleared by Salford, I spoke to Jim, he informed me of the plans, with the new owner Mark (Stott) coming in and what his visions for the club are. I needed to play games and this was a good chance for me to get out and play some football, so it all came together quite nicely really. Hopefully I can put the performances in and make sure that I play every game that I’m available for.
What do you think made that last Stockport spell work as well as it did?
I just think we were ‘right place, right time’ for each other really. I needed Stockport at that point in my career to re-enthuse me and re-energise my love of football, and it certainly did that. The whole club, the people that work for the club, the fans. Obviously, the way that the gaffer utilised me that season was brilliant, so, hoping for much of the same this time around.
Is there a favourite memory, game or moment from last time?
(Thinking) I enjoyed it all, to be honest with you. I enjoyed playing at home, because I wasn’t used to playing in front of that many fans at that point. We were getting 3500/4000 in the Conference North, so that’s something I’d never experienced before, and it was really enjoyable to do that. Really looking forward to getting back out onto the pitch on Saturday at home (speaking ahead of the Dover game on Saturday); hopefully it’s another big crowd. If I had to pick one moment, weirdly enough, it would probably be when we played Marine in an FA Trophy game. We were getting beat 2-1 at home, there was about ten minutes to go, we hadn’t played well, I hadn’t really played well. I scored a free-kick and then won a penalty, scored the penalty and we won 3-2 – all in the space of about two or three minutes. That was sort of a whirlwind game and that was a nice moment.
When it came to stepping up with Peterborough, in an overall sense, being a player at that level and in that environment, did it feel very natural or was any of it very difficult? Did you have to change anything about yourself or your routine?
Obviously my routine changed, because I was used to working a normal job as well as playing football, so my routine then just became football, and everything I did was centred around training and playing games. Me as a person, I didn’t really change; I still loved playing football and going in every day with a smile on my face. I was enthusiastic and I fully believe that in that season for Peterborough I did more than well enough. I scored some good goals, I had a number of assists, I played in some really good games, and we had an FA Cup run. With the quality that we had that season, we should have definitely made the play-offs, but we didn’t and that’s the reality of it. I don’t look back on Peterborough with any sort of regret; I feel like I did well there and that I was well-liked there, by the fans and by people at the club.
— Peterborough United (@theposhofficial) September 16, 2019
You’d been away from the North West before with football, at the likes of Lincoln and Tamworth, but how did you find that side of it, going to Peterborough?
I moved into an apartment with my girlfriend and we enjoyed it. It was the first time of us living together, it was a good chance for me to concentrate on my football, and it was a good time. Like I say, I don’t look back on it with any regret. I enjoyed moving away, enjoyed being able to fully focus on my career, so it was good.
What’s the current set-up for you each week? How much of your time is at Stockport, how much is still at Salford?
Obviously because Stockport is still the sort of hybrid/transitioning into full-time, I’m doing Mondays and Fridays in Salford, and Tuesdays and Thursdays with Stockport.
For on the pitch, overall enjoyment off the pitch, a good set of lads, where has been the happiest time you’ve had so far in football?
For all the reasons you mentioned, I would say the season at County was really good, and then last season at Salford until I found myself sort of lacking in game time. The first six or seven months of the season, I was playing every week, we were winning and it was brilliant. So I’d say between those two has been the most enjoyable times of my career. Good set of lads, good clubs, really good relationship with both sets of fans, so probably a mix of both.
Thinking back before Salford, what stands out as the most challenging or frustrating time? At Fylde you said you thought about stopping playing, for example.
Yeah, Fylde probably. That last season at Fylde was immensely frustrating; felt like I was doing enough on the pitch when I was given opportunities and then just being overlooked. I was doing that well with work and moving up with my job that I thought ‘you know what? I don’t need this any more.’ It was becoming too stressful, I was unhappy with how it was going, it was affecting my personal/social life and I just thought ‘this isn’t for me.’ There was probably one or two clubs that could have come knocking to sort of convince me to stay and carry on playing, and one of them was Stockport. Just really pleased that happened.
For getting the best out of you, what sort of approach from a manager has tended to be most effective? Is it giving you an edge from time to time, a chip on your shoulder even, or more so reassuring you and encouraging?
I think everyone needs a bit of both. I think sometimes lads can get a bit comfortable, and they need a bit of a kick up the backside. Other times when you’re low on confidence you just need an arm around you to say ‘listen, you are a good player, we still value you’ and all that. Ultimately, though, I think what any footballer needs is just consistent football, whatever level that is at. There’s nothing like just putting that shirt on every week. So I think a mix of the two. I’ve always been able to take a bollocking, regardless of whether I think it’s right or wrong. I’ve never been one to answer back or argue in front of a group or whatever. I’d like to think I’ve always been a good professional and anyone who’s shared a dressing room would say ‘he’s hard-working, his attitude was spot on.’ I try to get on with my own game really, and try to be self-sufficient, if that’s the way to put it.
What sort of role and system have you enjoyed most?
I played in Fylde’s system, 4-3-3, and scored a lot of goals there; think I got over 50 goals for them. Stockport was a mixture of 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3; Peterborough was the same. That’s the system I’ve scored the majority of my goals in. When I came to Salford, the gaffer played 4-4-2, and I didn’t score as many goals as I would have liked, but I got a lot of assists last season, so I provided in that way. I think anything that just allows me to have a bit of freedom to attack really.
In your time in football overall, which teammates/coaches/managers stand out as being the biggest or funniest characters?
At Fylde, probably Bradley Barnes; he was a bit of a character. Then when I went to Stockport you had some really good lads; Mark Ross and others were really funny lads and always up for a laugh. When I went to Peterborough, George Cooper moved in with me at the back-end of the season, when he came from Crewe; top lad, absolute spaceman. At Salford, big characters in that dressing room, like Wisey (Scott Wiseman), Pidge (Carl Pierganni), Roon’s (Adam Rooney) always up for a laugh. I have been quite lucky with the dressing rooms that I’ve had; the majority have been really solid and really together.
Back to Stockport, of course the takeover and a different division, but is there anything that feels different about the place from last time? In the way anything’s moved on a bit, or ‘that room’s had a lick of paint since I was last here’…
There’s definitely a buzz around the place at the moment, with the positive news coming out. Obviously the last time I joined, the club was stuck in the Conference North, but always very optimistic, Stockport fans. They always had unwavering support, which is fantastic, but there’s definitely an excitement and a buzz around the players, the staff and the people who work for the club in general. They’ve all got a smile on their face and they’re all excited to see what the next 12/18/24 months brings for the football club and what exciting plans Mark has.
— Danny Lloyd (@dannylloyd1) January 21, 2020
Have there ever been any misconceptions about you as a player/person, any myths you’ve heard, or have you felt people have always had a generally fair impression of you?
I think I’ve always had a good relationship with the fans at clubs. When I left Peterborough, I didn’t cover myself in glory with the tweet that I put out. I couldn’t elaborate on what I meant, and looking back, that’s probably my biggest regret in football and probably left a sour taste for people. I apologised after it, but it was took out of context, what I meant. I’d say that’s probably the only thing that I look back on and regret in my career. I’d like to think wherever I’ve been, people would say ‘Danny Lloyd always gave 100 percent and never gave anything up.’ I’m honest, I’m hard-working, and anything that comes on top of that is a bonus, in my opinion.
One singer/band/song you’d sneak on to the team playlist
It’s very hard to pick just one song. Something like a feelgood singalong tune before the game, like a Luther Vandross or a Michael Jackson. Get the lads singing along.
Thinking longer-term, after playing, would you want to go back into the business development side, or would it now be something totally different you’d look to do?
I’m currently doing my coaching badges. I never thought I’d want to manage or coach, but having been involved in full-time football, seeing some of the things that have gone on, some of the things I’ve been subject to personally, I definitely wanna do my badges and give myself the best opportunity to coach or manage at a similar level to what I’ve played at. If I had to go back to my old job tomorrow, it wouldn’t be a problem. Just as I was leaving the job, I was probably gonna be in line for some sort of interview for a higher position, so I could go back to a job of that ilk tomorrow. I really enjoyed it, I enjoyed the autonomy of it, but definitely looking to do my badges and see where that takes me.
In terms of wider ambitions or just very basic stuff to enjoy and switch you off, what other interests do you have outside of playing/training?
Love a good Netflix series. I used to enjoy a good bit of golf but I sort of fell off that since I got myself on the property ladder and got my first house; most of my time’s been devoted to that the past sort of year. I’m expecting my first child, my little boy’s coming in about a month’s time, so I imagine he will be taking up most of my time moving forward! I just like to be active and I like to be constantly doing things. I’m a people person, so my missus sort of hates it really; she says ‘we can never do anything just us two’! I just like being around people, like being involved in groups and having a good time.
Finally, along the way so far in football, what have you learned the most from it?
When I was part-time, I’d never played in the Football League and I had this big, sort of pie-in-the-sky dream of what it’s gonna be like; if you get your move, then you’ll get another one, and it’ll all be this and all be that. My eyes were sort of opened really to what the game is really about. I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done for anything, apart from as I said, that stupid tweet. Every decision I’ve made at the time. I believe, with all the information I had, was the right decision. Definitely my eyes were opened to how football is, and how difficult it is, in the background and off the pitch, more than on the pitch really.
Interview by @chris_brookes