DEPARTING Accrington Stanley skipper Luke Joyce insists the decision to quit the Store First Stadium for League Two rivals Carlisle gave him sleepless nights.

The midfielder, who has spent the past six years with the Reds, opted to turn down Stanley’s offer of a new contract to make the switch to Keith Curle’s Cumbrians on a two-year contract.


And the 27-year-old, who had a three-year spell at Brunton Park earlier in his career, admits the decision to leave East Lancashire was not a simple one.

In an open letter to Stanley’s fans Joyce said: “It’s been an unbelievably difficult decision, not just for myself but for my family.

“It’s going to mean me spending a bit more time away from home but ultimately it’s a decision that we feel will benefit my football life and my family life.

“It’s a decision that has given me more than a few sleepless nights and one that I’ll live with for the rest of my career.

“I love Accrington Stanley and it’s been like a second home to me for the last six years.

“They gave me my chance in professional football really because that summer when I left Carlisle nobody else was on the phone really trying to sign me. If it wasn’t for Accrington I might not be a professional today.

“I owe the club a lot and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time. I hope the fans have enjoyed having me. I’ve enjoyed playing in front of them.”

Joyce added that Carlisle was one of the few clubs he would have considered signing for, admitting that he was determined to make an impression second time round at Brunton Park having managed just 28 appearances during his last spell with the club.

“There’s a bit of unfinished business with Carlisle,” Joyce added.

“I didn’t really make a massive statement there last time as a young lad and I didn’t play as much as I would’ve liked.

“I had a few regrets that I didn’t really show Carlisle the type of player I was. I have the chance to change that now.

“For that reason Carlisle’s one of the few clubs I would consider leaving Accrington Stanley for.

“I’m not sure how I’ll feel on the day if I end up playing against the club but I’m sure it’ll be a surreal experience. It’ll be the first fixture I look for when they come out.”

Stanley boss John Coleman admitted he was disappointed to see his captain leave.

“It’s disappointing to lose Luke as he’s been one of the best players we’ve had for a long time,” said the Reds chief.

“The most disappointing thing is that we believed he would sign his new contract but that’s football and in football life goes on.

“I told him it was pointless him staying if he wasn’t sure. No good for us and no good for him.

“He’s been a good and consistent performer for us so you have to take your hat off to him for that and applaud all that he has done for the club, who in turn have looked after him over the years. We wish him all the best.”

Joyce becomes the third player of last season’s squad to turn down a new deal with the Reds after defenders Nicky Hunt and Rob Atkinson also announced they would be leaving. Midfielder Gerardo Bruna has penned a new one-year deal though.