ACCRINGTON Stanley have appointed their own cabinet in a bid to increase links with the community, and captain Luke Joyce hopes it will eventually lead to a boost in crowds at the Store First Stadium.
As part of a PFA scheme, Stanley and their community manager Martin Fearon have chosen four ambassadors from within their playing squad who will each have their own area of responsibility.
Joyce will try to encourage social inclusion in the local community, while Peter Murphy will look after sports participation, Dean Winnard’s responsibility is health and Nicky Hunt will concentrate on education.
It may not exactly be Westminster, and the quartet are unlikely to be challenging David Cameron for Prime Minister any time soon.
But Joyce hopes it will go a small way towards building links between the club and the surrounding area, even if he admits he has not spent nights on end studying the whys and wherefores of social inclusion, his own particular area of responsibility.
“Martin didn’t say anything about that, I might have to see if he dumps a load of paperwork on me!” joked the Stanley skipper, who had a weekend off after the Reds’ League Two fixture at Portsmouth was washed out.
“But it’s for the community and it’s something they’re doing with the PFA now.
“The lads are more than happy to get involved, to do the school visits and all the other stuff.
“I’m arranging that with Martin and making sure the lads are getting to the schools and doing the little bits in the community.
“It’s great to get involved, but it’s not just us four who are going to be doing the visits.
“It will be everyone, sharing it out between the squad and making sure everyone’s getting involved and giving a bit back.”
The Reds currently have the lowest attendances in the Football League, and their average gate so far this season is only 1,563 – down from 1,674 last term.
But in December the Stanley squad made a Christmas visit to the Royal Blackburn Hospital for the first time and also recently visited Accrington town centre.
“We went down to the Arndale and it’s just getting the word out about the club and getting as many people through the door as we can,” Joyce said.
“It makes for a better atmosphere on a game day and gives us that extra lift. If the fans can get behind us and support us, it’s going to work out well for everyone.”
Each club has an appointed PFA representative among their playing squad, and at Stanley that is Joyce.
“It’s not something I’m doing every day but if anything needs to be done, or if anyone needs to speak to someone at the PFA they do offer a lot of help and I’m the middle man who puts people in touch with whoever they need to speak to.”
Having been appointed Stanley captain at the age of 24, Joyce has always been a mature figure in the Reds dressing room and the arrival of his first child Eva at the start of the season has only added to that sense of responsibility.
“I’m not just supporting myself and my wife, it’s the baby as well now and I’m organised in that sense at home,” he said.
“It’s been brilliant to be a father, I love it. It’s been unbelievable.
“Congratulations to Dean Winnard and Danny Webber too who have recently had little boys.
“There are a few more babies in the changing room than there were at the start of the season!”