B TEAMS? WE JUST NEED MORE SCOUTING!
Lolley’s plan to boost England
JOE Lolley never received a helping hand during his rise from obscurity and the Huddersfield forward is concerned that the proposed Football League shake-up could cause more harm than good.
Last week FA chairman Greg Dyke unveiled radical new proposals designed to increase the numbers of English players plying their trade in the Premier League.
One such plan is a division containing Premier League ‘B teams’ between League Two and the Football Conference, which in Dyke’s words will “provide the crucial first stage of an effective bridge between the academy and the first team”.
The teams would not be allowed to compete in the FA Cup – which is where 21-year-old Lolley caught the eye. He handed Conference side Kidderminster a parting gift in January, scoring the winner against Peterborough in a third-round replay just one day before sealing a move to the Terriers.
Remarkably he had made the leap from Midland Combination Premier Division side Littleton – nine steps below Huddersfield – just six months earlier, more focused on earning a sports coaching degree from the University of Central Lancashire than making it to the big time.
Now, instead of the FA meddling with the structure of English football, Lolley advocates teams need just dig deeper to unearth the nation’s hidden talent.
“I’m not the biggest fan of the proposals, I just think English football is unique from the Premier League to the Conference and below,” he said.
“These plans are made for the elite players at the elite clubs. There are players out there who just need a chance and it will affect them. It’s not just me who has made the jump.
“At Kidderminster this season we were playing teams such as Luton, who were getting 9,000 fans – they are a proper English league club.
“There were other players who you were surprised were playing at that level. I’m hoping now that some of us are making it that teams will start looking two or three leagues below.”
Lolley knows what it is like to slip through the net at a bigger club. He was released by Birmingham as a 16-year-old before lighting up the goalscoring charts with Littleton in 2011.
He hammered in 88 goals in 83 games over two years and briefly linked up with Matt Smith, before the towering striker made his own way into the Football League with Oldham and now Leeds.
Smith was just one of the many voices urging him to try his luck at the next level – but Lolley admits he never dared to imagine his journey would take him to the Championship.
“At the time I was just enjoying playing on a Saturday,” said Lolley. “I used to wonder if we got promoted how I’d do in the next division up, let alone the Football League.
“I’d never really thought I’d get to the Conference or anything near being a professional footballer, even though a lot of my teammates and friends were saying I could.
“Matt Smith was at Littleton for four or five games when I’d just started and he believed I could go to the next level.
“I saw him at the Leeds game with Huddersfield this season and we had a catch up.”
Nahki Wells was another Huddersfield hotshot to arrive in January after taking the NonLeague route, thrashing in goals for Eccleshill United before receiving his big break at Bradford.
While Wells went on to bag seven goals Lolley was hampered by a shin injury, but capped off the season a fortnight ago with a goal and an assist on his first start against Watford.
Lolley believes there is no reason why he and Wells could not eventually crack the Premier League.
“I discovered Nahki had taken a similar path when I got here,” he said.“It just shows players are out there who can make it.You should never stop believing – the dream is to play in the Premier League.”
METEORIC RISE: Huddersfield’s Joe Lolley, right, is mobbed after scoring his first Town goal