Manager Scott Bartlett said Scott Laird is "one of the best players to ever play” for Weston-super-Mare AFC after the player/assistant manager announced he would be leaving the Seagulls.

Laird, 35, has left Weston to take up a full-time role at Millfield School.

The full-back has spent four years at BS24, where he scored 38 goals and made 21 assists in his 133 games.

The sudden announcement comes hours after the Seagulls’ 3-0 win at Nailsea & Tickenham this afternoon.

Goals from Dayle Grubb, Elis Watts and Rex Mannings helped Weston get their pre-season underway in style.

“Lairdy’s departure had come out of the blue but that’s often the way in football, it leaves a big hole for us to fill there is no doubt about that,” Bartlett told the club’s website.

“He has been offered a fantastic role at Millfield School and he deserves it. I am proud of him for the way he transitioned into part-time football and how he has developed his role in coaching. I am disappointed of course but I do take satisfaction in his progress.

“Whilst selfishly, I want him to stay and carry on our good work, I didn’t try to persuade him against it because it’s absolutely the right decision for his family and whilst I understand the decision he has made there is no hiding the fact that it’s a blow for the club to lose someone of his calibre and for me personally a very good assistant manager, player and friend.

“We have worked very hard together and been through a lot, there is so much he has done for our club that people won’t even be aware of. As both a player, assistant and teammate, he has been so loyal and professional and has done that whilst maintaining the standards as one of the best players to ever play for our club.

“I have been very fortunate to have had two excellent assistant managers in Chris Barker and Scott, to say he has had a big impact in rebuilding the club, team and environment is an understatement.

“He will be missed both on and off the pitch, and I’d like to thank him for his contribution and wish him all the best in his new role”.

Laird, who is the son of former Weston manager Craig, first came to the club in the summer of 2019, a few months after the club suffered relegation from the National League South.

He linked up with Bartlett in the Southern Premier South, after finishing the 2018/19 season playing for Walsall in League One.

He left the English Football League having made nearly 400 appearances and had spells at Stevenage, Preston North End and Forest Green Rovers

After his first two seasons were disrupted, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Laird helped the Seagulls reach the play-off semi-finals in 2022, which ended in a 2-1 defeat at Hayes & Yeading.

However, 12 months later Laird helped Weston secure promotion back to the Vanarama National League South after claiming the league title. 

“I knew this point in my life was going to come,” Laird said.

“I work at Millfield School and I’ve been offered a full-time job there which means they train, play and go to school on Saturdays which would take up my Saturdays in school term which means I wouldn’t be able to play until half-terms and Christmas.

“It’s a great opportunity for my family. I’ve just had a second child and the longevity of what I was offered at Millfield was a pull.

“Coming back to the Weston stuff, it’s the hardest decision in my footballing career. Four years ago when I joined this football club, I was in a real crossroads with my life and football. Weston mentally and footballing-wise saved me whereas you see a lot of footballers go into a spiral.

“Weston has been a place where I’ve met friends for life. Throughout football, you move between 10,12 clubs and make one or two proper friends but here, I think I’ve made a whole squad of friends and that’s what I’m going to miss the most.

“I’ve said it to the lads but we are very, very good at football. The banter, the team camaraderie, what me and the gaffer have built here in the four years, the bus journeys to the away games, I’ll miss it all.

“I’ve come home, all my family’s here and Weston is one hell of a club. The manager, the Bliss family, are incredible people and all of the fans, everyone behind the scenes are all things that I’m going to miss. Forget the football, it’s the people that I’m going to miss.”