Craig’s shock exit - interview
WESTON’S influential captain Craig Rand has said he will always ‘hold the club in his heart’ after leaving just weeks before the start of the season.
The 29-year-old defender shocked players, management and fans last week when he announced he was quitting to return to the North East because of personal reasons.
The ‘difficult and emotional’ decision ends the player’s six year career with the Seagulls - a time where he has progressed from a loanee to team captain.
And it ends with his most successful season yet, helping the club toward a 12th place finish and a Somerset Premier Cup final win against Yeovil Town.
This week, Craig told the Mercury: “This season was the best yet, I was in a good squad of players and we achieved great things – a good league finish and cup success.
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“But some times you have to do what you think it right, and that for me was to leave this area to return to my family in County Durham.
“It’s been a difficult and emotional decision, I had a few tears in my eyes when I was on the phone telling the gaffer.”
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Craig first moved down to the South West to study a full-time training scheme at Bath University in 2004, playing for the now-disbanded Team Bath at the same time.
Opportunity arose when Weston manager Frank Gregan called up the young defender for a month-long loan in October 2005.
Playing with ex-pros like Mark McKeever, Craig won a contract at the club after putting in some good performances which included a 35-yard goal against Weymouth.
Craig said: “I really enjoyed by spell at the club and took my chance, everything just felt right and I never looked back.
“We had a great season that year but then struggled a bit under several managers who came and went.
“Then, last season, when Craig Laird came in he appointed me captain and the whole attitude at the club changed – we looked like winning games again.”
Craig says his highlights while at the club were lifting the Somerset Premier Cup and beating then-league leaders Bromley 7-nil at home.
Now, back where he grew up in Newton Aycliffe, Craig is training with the town club in the Northern League but hopes to find a new club in the region.
Blue Square Premier sides Darlington and Gateshead are among the obvious options.
But it is Weston, Craig maintains, he will always remember and thank for raising him into the player he is.
Craig said: “The team is in good hands the current squad is the best I’ve played with, and that goes for the management too.
“One player going isn’t going to change that.
“I can’t thank people at the club enough for the support I have received – everyone has helped, from the supporters to club officials.
“I will hold the club in my heart and it will always be the first result I look up on a Saturday evening.”