Liam Osborne, Sports reporter
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Defender tells the Comet why he made the decision to move on after four and a half years at the club
SCOTT LAIRD believes the reason why he and a number of players will leave Stevenage this summer is because they have outgrown the club following their rise from Conference minnows to League One play-off contenders.
In an interview with the Comet this week, the 24-year-old admitted it wasn’t an easy decision to leave – which he confirmed in a meeting with chairman Phil Wallace and manager Gary Smith last Thursday – but he feels now is the right time to further his career elsewhere.
The left-back has been one of the stand-out performers for Boro since signing permanently under former boss Peter Taylor in February 2008, and his form last season – where he was second top goalscorer with nine goals – attracted the attention of a handful of Championship clubs, and the Taunton-born defender says he owes everything to Stevenage for how his career has unfolded.
“I had meetings with the chairman and the manager last week and I just wanted to thank them both for everything they have done for me,” Laird told the Comet. “The manager has only been at the club six months but even in that short period of time I have learnt so much from him.
“My career wasn’t really going anywhere at Plymouth but Stevenage took me on and I’m ever so grateful they gave me that chance. We’ve shared something special at Stevenage and I think it will be a long time before any team recreates what we have. When we sit down and reflect on what we’ve achieved we will realise just how special a time it was.
“The players aren’t leaving because of the manager or anything like that. They are leaving because maybe they have outgrown the club. But the players aren’t greedy for money, we haven’t been paid lots in our time at the club – but that’s credit to the club because we’ve done so well with smaller resources.
“At the end of the day football is a business. I would have loved to have stayed at Stevenage for another 10 years and become a club legend, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t be financially secure, and players need to earn as much money as they can because it’s not a long career. I would like to have a family one day and it’s up to me to make the right decisions.
“I could be in a normal job earning £50,000 a year, but if I’m offered £70,000 a year somewhere else I’m going to take it. That doesn’t mean I don’t love Stevenage, because I do, and I will always have a soft spot for the club.”
Laird admitted he is unsure his decision to leave would have been different had Boro won promotion to the Championship.
“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “But for me I feel it is the right time to leave, and some people may agree with that and some people may not. But I’ve got a few options now and I’ve got to decide what is the best move for me, and I will sit down with my family and make sure I make the right choice.
“Every footballer wants to play at the highest level and to play in the Premier League one day would be a dream come true. And what I’ve got to do to give myself that chance is make the right decision now.
“The club [Stevenage] is in great hands. I made sure I said that to Gary [Smith] last week that I have learned so much from him in a short period of time. He took over a team that was doing well and he’s carried that on. He will bring in his own players, of course, and this club has a bright future because he is a great manager.”