Midfielder Luke Joyce on Accrington, family and hard workIn the second part of our interview with Luke Joyce we spoke about the big part Accrington Stanley have played in helping him to reach his 350 career-starts milestone.
“I played something like 280 games at Accrington and I had a brilliant time there,” he confirmed. “They obviously gave me my chance after my release from Carlisle ten years ago, and if I hadn’t gone there I might not be playing professional football now.
“I owe them a lot and I have a lot of gratitude for what they did for me. I loved my time there and I still look for their results every week. There were highs and lows with them and obviously getting into the play-offs was good.
“We seemed to get tipped for relegation every season and you’d think the bookmakers would have learned by now. They just don’t seem to cotton-on that it’s a good club with good players and very good management staff.”
“I’m sure they’ll do well again and the good thing is I can see the same kind of character and desire in our dressing room as they have there,” he commented. “I was probably 21 or 22 years old when I left here to go there and I think I only had just over 20 league games to my name. Most of the 350 starts I’ve had have come from being with Accrington.
“As I say, I think it’s a fantastic club. I think it’ll always be special to me because we went through good times and some unbelievably tough ones. You pull together even more when things aren’t always the best.
“There were times at Accrington when we struggled financially, and that was difficult. We were getting paid 12 days late, and things like that, and I was in a position where it was hard to pay bills. There were times when I was fined off the bank because I was well into the overdraft with no money coming in, and you just have to get through the best you can.
“Luckily I have people to turn to when things aren’t the best, and that’s important. Family wise I’m fortunate in that I can turn to anyone. My wife, kids, mum, dad, sisters – they’re all there to help me when I need it.
“Even with a situation like last season, when it wasn’t going great for me personally even though the team was doing well, you need to know you have that support to help you through. I was getting a bit down with myself because I was disappointed with some of my own performances, but my family seem to know what to say and how to say it.
“I’ve also been lucky professionally because I’ve made some good friends over the years. If there’s anything worrying you from a professional point of view it means you can turn to your team mates, your manager, or people you’ve worked with in the past.
“I have to say, I’ve made a lot of friends and I’ve had really good managers. Keith is brilliant here and John Coleman was superb at Accrington. He’s a friend of mine, I’ve worked with him for years, and he’s the one who gave me my chance. I’ll always owe him that. Another one is James Beattie [ex-Accrington and Leeds]. I’m still in touch with him to this day and it’s good to have people you can rely on at the drop of a hat.
“I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve never left a club having not really got on with anybody. I’m quite an easy going guy and I seem to get on with pretty much everyone. It’s possible that I’m too nice at times, and I think the gaffer has said that about me in the past. That’s just the way I am and I’d like to think there won’t be too many people who have a bad word to say about me.”
A comment first made by Keith Curle last year was that Luke had left Carlisle United as a boy and returned to Carlisle United as a man, and he agreed that his time with Stanley had helped him to settle into his game.
“I’ve played a lot of games, particularly through the last seven years, and I’ve learned and grown a lot as a person and as a player,” he said. “I feel like I’m in a good place at the moment and I’m in decent form.
“To play regularly anywhere you need a bit of luck injury wise. I like going in for a tackle and I’ve been lucky enough not to get any serious knocks. Some people seem to pick up injuries more than others, but I’ve only ever had the odd strain.
“All I can say is that I work hard. I do my job in the best way I can and I put everything into every game and training session. That was the same last year, but for whatever reason some performances weren’t as good as others. This season everything seems to be going well and long may it continue.
“I’m chuffed to bits that we’re third in the table and I have a huge ambition to put something really successful on my CV. Hopefully that can be this season. We’re going well at the top of the division and we’re determined to enjoy it.”
“From a personal point of view, I’m proud of what I’ve done so far but to have a title winning campaign or a promotion would be unbelievable,” he admitted. “I experienced it as a squad player when we won division two when I was here first time round, but I didn’t really play. I wasn’t involved as much as I would have liked to be, but it was still enjoyable to be part of it. It’s something I’d love to be involved with again.
“It would be brilliant to enjoy real success with Carlisle United. I’m 29 now and hopefully there’s a good few years left in the legs yet, but it feels like we’re in a good place at the moment and it would be nice to get something from it.”
As for his search for a United goal to add to the two he scored during his first spell with the club, he said: “We need to keep bringing those goals up and reminding people I got them.
“They weren’t classics, or anything like that, and I think one was actually off the side of my head and the other one off my shoulder. If I can nick another just like either of them I’d be chuffed to bits!”