An Interview With Larry LloydPosted on: 12 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
Signed in 1976, the Liverpool and Nottingham Forest hero now lives in Marbella.
In his heyday, Larry Lloyd was one of the toughest, most uncompromising players. He won the League championship, League Cup and European Cup, the first of which came when he was already at the near-veteran age of 29. He was part of the great Liverpool defence that included Tommy Smith, Ray Clemence, and the team in the 1970’s that included Kevin Keegan, Toshack and Heighway up front.
Now in his early 50’s, he left Britain seven years ago to live in Spain, selling his medals to fund the cost of a bar on the Costa del Sol.
"It was a cold January morning. I had become hacked off by the things happening in this country, so I went on the internet and found this pub. I ran it for six months and then sold it. I made a bit of money out of it and now I sell property for a holiday company,” he tells me.
He was back in Britain to promote his life story, Hard Man, Hard Game. Apparently he had been approached many times about writing his autobiography, but each time he was put off because the main focus was all about the football and he wanted to write a full and frank account of all areas of his life. In Hard Man, Hard Game Lloyd speaks of the sadness of growing up with a blind father never able to watch him play, how he regrets his hot headed outbursts at Liverpool, and why Ron Greenwood fourth cap to Lloyd was his last.
I found it more interesting than most of these sort of books, maybe because the modern player decides to record his life story before he has turned twenty one. Larry Lloyd comes from the great days of English football when players would have been lucky to earn £70,000 during their whole career, let alone that much a week, as they are often paid now.
As a local Bristol boy, Lloyd started his career with Bristol Rovers. He rose to the first team who were playing in the old Third Division at the time, before being spotted in an FA Cup match against First Division Everton, in Liverpool. He marked Joe Royle, who scored the only goal of the game, knocking the lower team out.
But sitting in the stands was Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, who noted the young man from Bristol and at the end of the season summoned him to Merseyside and bought him. He reveals that he would he would get a big wage rise when he moved to Liverpool, compared with the £20 a week he was being paid at Bristol. In fact he was asked to sign a blank contract, that would earn him bonuses as long as the team did well, and ten per cent of his £50,000 transfer fee to be paid at the end of each season for the next three years.
Very few people past Lloyd twice in a game, which was much more physical in his days as a player. And alongside him was Tommy Smith, the hardest defender I have ever watched. Lloyd agrees, and recalls a moment at Liverpool’s training ground at the end of a morning’s training.
"We always ended up with a five-a-side game. I passed the ball too firmly to Tommy. He said something to me, and I said something back like, 'why don’t you run for it you fat shit.' The training ground came to a halt; I was still relatively the new kid on the block. Tommy came over to me and said, 'what did you call me?' I replied, 'I called you a fat bastard,' which cost me a punch on the nose. I got him one back, before the other players pulled us apart. Afterwards we became the best of friends.”
A bad injury meant Lloyd was sold to Coventry and it looked as if he would play out his days there, but his career was revived by Brian Clough who took him from Coventry to Nottingham Forest. The team then went on to win the European Cup, with an only goal from Trevor Frances, from a John Robertson cross.
Larry’s fiery relationship with Brian Clough led to him being the highest fined player at Nottingham Forest. Lloyd tells me that the most predictable thing about Clough, was his unpredictability.
"By the time I met this geezer Clough, I felt I had a valid opinion. I cannot fault him as a football manager, but as a man he was not my sort of person. If he walked into a pub I would walk out. His man management was unbelievable as a far as the team was concerned. He knew just how to get the best out of every player, which ones to put an arm around and encourage, which ones to give a bollocking."
"His assistant Peter Taylor played a very important role, because Clough’s coaching side of things was non-existent. I remember when we played QPR in an FA Cup game. He had gone on holiday in Spain. He wasn’t there when we drew on the Saturday, and we drew again on the Tuesday and had to play a third game on the Thursday. Minutes before that game the dressing room door burst open and Clough came in cursing us and saying we had caused him to cut his holiday short and we’d better win. We did 3-0. And then he went back on holiday!”
Hard Man, Hard Game, by Larry Lloyd is available from all good bookshops, priced £17.99. Alternatively you can purchase it from Amazon for £12.59.
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