Beattie: I almost left Accrington Stanley for Exeter City

This Is Lancashire: James Beattie on the touchline for Accrington Stanley James Beattie on the touchline for Accrington Stanley

JAMES Beattie admits he almost left Accrington Stanley for Exeter City in January, as he prepares to face the Grecians this afternoon.

Beattie’s initial two-month contract as player-coach at Stanley expired in early January, and he considered returning to the south to spend more time with his family, who live in Poole on the outskirts of Bournemouth.

In the end he decided he could not desert his friend Leam Richardson, then the Stanley manager, just as the club were sliding into a relegation battle.

He signed an extended contract – living with his mother in Blackburn during the week, and returning to the south coast to see his children as often as possible.

In the summer the chance to become Reds boss arose, when Richardson departed for Chesterfield.

Even though he has not officially retired, Beattie has not played since – although he could easily have been starting up front for Exeter today had he decided to make the move.

“Possibly,” he admitted. “I went down to speak to Paul in January because of the logistics of me living up here and my family living on the south coast.

“I remember being straight up with Leam and telling him I was going to go and see Paul.

“Leam obviously knowing the situation with my family said, ‘Yes, go and see him’.

“But I couldn’t just leave Leam, the lads and the club in the lurch. The only choice for me to make was to stand by Leam and get us out of the trouble we were in at that time.

“I felt I’d become part of something and that I had to see it through for the reasons that I pride myself on – loyalty and stuff like that.”

It remains uncertain if Beattie will ever add to his 497 club appearances.

Stanley defender Dean Winnard reaches the 200 mark today – all made for the Reds since leaving Blackburn Rovers’ youth system.

“He’s had a tremendous week, he’s just become a father for the first time this week and congratulations to him,” Beattie said. “From the start of the season when Deano was injured and had his trouble with his ankle, he’s probably been consistently our best player.”

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