Larry Lloyd – Hard man: Hard game

I popped down to Arnold yesterday morning to pick up a copy of Larry Lloyd’s autobiography, “Hard man: Hard game” and get it signed by the man himself, since the local MSR Newsagent down there was running a signing session. It didn’t take too long to get to the table where Larry was dutifully inscribing messages into copies of his book, I’d never met him before and he was a charming fellow.

Even though I bought the book as a gift, I must confess to having a sneaky read of it last night – well, more of a skim-read – I tended to skip the Liverpool-related bits, but it was fascinating to read about Larry’s upbringing in post-war Bristol – one of ten children, with a father who had never so much as seem him due to blindness!  It was also nice to read of his elevation to the first team of his boyhood heroes Bristol Rovers.

Of course, shortly after this Bill Shankly plucked him from relative obscurity to play for Liverpool.  After being dropped he fell out with Bob Paisley as Shankly was retiring and ended up being sold to Coventry, shortly after which he picked up a back injury and fell completely out of first team reckoning before Brian Clough and Peter Taylor swooped to take him to Division 2 Nottingham Forest – and of course, on to glory.

What comes across loud and clear is Lloyd’s pride in both his achievements and those of his teammates, he said to me as he signed the book “We never forget those times either, you know!” – I told him I wasn’t lucky enough to have witnessed them in person, he called me a “poor bugger” – given his theorising about the nature of Forest, I can see why, he sees Forest as a team that spends decades in obscurity before burning brightly with an achievement (1898 – won FA cup, 1959, won FA Cup, late 70’s-early 80’s untold glory, late 80’s-early 90’s lesser Wembley appearances).  It would seem some of us may have some more time to wait for a bit of glory!

He covers the Hillsborough disaster from the understandable position of a fence-sitter, he was at the game as a commentator, and then – perhaps the most eagerly antipated bit of the book – he talks about David Platt.  It’s fair to say Larry doesn’t like Platt much, much like the rest of us!  I hadn’t realised that Larry was working for Forest in the PR team – indeed, when I used to occasionally write to Forest to get things signed they may well have passed through Larry to be sorted out – so thanks Larry!

He speaks of Platts’ profligate wastefulness in terms of the transfer money he spent, and intriguingly also of the detailed dossier Nigel Doughty had prepared on him before appointing him.  Platt wouldn’t let Larry into the dressing room to get a shirt signed (despite Platt requesting the shirt for some charity do he was attending!), and after a while Lloyd was told he was no longer needed by the newly arrived CEO Mark Arthur.

All in all, a really entertaining read – Larry comes across as the uncompromising and ambitious person he clearly was to have achieved what he did in the game, but also as a warm-hearted and family-oriented man who still retains a strong understanding and fondness for the fans and the teams he represented.  Well worth a read, and available probably from MSR Newsagents around the city, and also from the Forest Souvenir Shop (who also had a signing event later in the day), so you should be able to pick up a signed copy.

You can also definitely pick up a signed copy from The Southbank on the end of Trent Bridge, I’ve just been reliably informed, for a mere £17.99.  It’s a top read, so there’s no excuse to not avail yourself of a copy.

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