Lol­ley’s plan to boost Eng­land

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Bai­ley

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.”

PIC­TURE: Me­dia Im­age Ltd

ME­TE­ORIC RISE: Hud­der­s­field’s Joe Lol­ley, right, is mobbed af­ter scor­ing his first Town goal

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