Best-ever side in Weston FC history, where are they now?
- Credit: Archant
In the last decade Weston have won four Somerset Cups and suffered relegation for the first time in their history last year but back in 2013, The Seagulls finished in seventh place in Conference South – their highest-ever league finish.
Originally founded in 1887, the club disbanded twice because of the First and Second World War, before establishing again in 1948.
After finishing runners up in the 2002-03 Southern League Western Division season, Weston, who were 10th the following season, also reached the FA Cup second round for the first and so far only time in their history when they lost 4-1 at Northampton Town, secured a place in the newly formed Conference South.
And nine years later under the management of Craig Laird, Weston just missed out on a place in the play-offs after finishing in seventh place.
We look at where the men that achieved those highs are now.
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Craig Laird (Manager)
The former Weston boss has had extensive experience in the Southern League since leaving The Seagulls almost six years ago. His first role post-Weston was as Weymouth’s assistant manager before taking up Yate’s managerial vacancy in March 2015.
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He left Yate almost a year later and returned to Bridgwater Town in May 2016, before taking over at Dorchester in January 2017. He left the Magpies in August that year and was most recently assistant manager at Southern League Division One South side Bideford.
Lloyd Irish (Goalkeeper)
The goalkeeper joined in the summer of 2010 from Taunton Town and was first-choice for the first few seasons under Laird, before sharing duties with current Weston number one Luke Purnell in 2013-14. Irish spent part of his final season on loan with Tiverton Town, and joined Bideford permanently in the summer of 2014. He spent a short stint with the club, before rejoining hometown club Taunton during 2014-15. He continues to put in some impressive performances in between the sticks for Weston’s league rivals.
Jamie Price (Right-Back)
Featured heavily for the Seagulls during Laird’s reign as manager and left in the summer of 2013 to join hometown team Taunton Town. Skippered the Peacocks in 2015-16 before joining bitter rivals Tiverton Town in summer 2016. A three-season spell included promotion to the Southern League Premier Division in 2017 before he returned to Taunton in 2019.
Matt Villis (Centre-Back)
Commanding defender spent three seasons at the heart of Seagulls defence before joining Tiverton in summer of 2013. He spent a season with Tiverton Town, before spending a similar amount of time with Bideford. He signed for Yate in May 2015 before leaving and joining Taunton Town in November 2015.
Spent next few seasons pulling on the Peacocks shirt before taking the step into coaching, first joining Leigh Robinson’s backroom staff as first-team coach in July 2018 and then being promoted to assistant manager upon Rob Dray’s appointment as manager later that season.
Jamie Laird (Centre-Back)
Likeable defender spent four years under dad Craig’s tutelage and was a regular at centre-back in successful 2012-13 season, forming a solid partnership with Matt Villis.
Left in May 2014 to join Weymouth, before signing for Yate Town a year later, he joined Hereford in 2015-16 and helped them to Midland League Premier Division title before rejoining Bridgwater in summer of 2016.
Returned to Weston in October 2016 under Scott Bartlett before leaving in 2018 for Paulton Rovers. He spent one year at the club before joining Bridgwater for a third spell last summer. Not long after the New Year, Laird then returned to the Southern League with Dorchester Town.
Martin Slocombe (Left-Back)
A regular in Weston’s defence after joining in summer of 2010 from Weymouth and went on to play 133 times in National League South under Laird’s stewardship.
Left in the summer of 2014 and returned to Weston’s rivals Bath City, but only made six league appearances for the Romans before choosing to retire at the age of 26 during the 2014-15 season.
Brett Trowbridge (Midfielder)
Box-to-box midfielder was the lynchpin of Laird’s success, as he spent four years under the manager at The Optima.
Signed for Taunton Town in June 2014 before moving to Yate Town the following May, returned to the Peacocks in February 2016 and skippered them in 2016-17 before leaving in summer of 2018.
Turned out for Street and Bridgwater in the early stages of 2018-2019 before returning to Taunton for a third spell. Retired from football in December 2018 due to injury.
Ben Kirk (Midfielder, captain)
Served as the influential skipper during 2012-13, donning the armband for three of his four seasons in a Weston shirt, but was another player that departed in the summer of 2014 after manager Laird’s exit, signing for Bideford.
Stint with the Devon club was brief, signing on for Taunton Town in September 2014 with the midfielder appearing regularly for them across the season.
Ash Kington (Midfielder)
Joined in the summer of 2012 from Clevedon Town and scored five goals from midfield during 2012-13, as well as featuring regularly the following campaign.
Left for Bath City in 2014 where he had a two-season spell before the central midfielder returned to Weston in the summer of 2016. He captained the club during Scott Bartlett’s first spell as boss and during the early stages of Marc McGregor’s reign, before leaving in 2018 for Bristol Manor Farm.
Kane Ingram (Winger)
Joined Weston in summer of 2010 and spent first four years of his career with The Seagulls under Laird, playing a vital role with eight goals in 34 league appearances in 2012-13.
Moved to Paulton Rovers in the summer of 2014 before returning to the club in November that same year, but left again for Yate Town the following August.
Returned for a third time in March 2016, but left in November following Bartlett’s appointment and joined Clevedon Town the following summer, then Bitton that same season. Signed for Southern League South Division One team Bristol Manor Farm last summer.
Chas Hemmings (Striker)
Utility man was selected to lead the line during his two seasons with the club after joining from Clevedon Town in 2012.
Moved to Bath City in 2014 and spent three seasons with the Romans, before choosing to link up with Frome Town in 2017. Spent a year with the Robins, then joined Bristol Manor Farm in 2018 which was his last known club.
Ross Stearn (Winger)
Only played for the club during 2012-13, but his 13 goals saw him finish as the Seagulls’ top scorer in the league campaign.
Left for Bath City in 2013 and featured for them across the next two seasons, going on to join Sutton United in May 2015.
Helped Sutton win the National League South in 2016, before being sold to Eastleigh in 2016-17. He returned to Sutton in 2017 before linking up with Bath again on loan in January 2018. Experienced winger returned to the Romans on a permanent basis in May 2018 and has remained at Twerton Park ever since.
Lewis Carey (Goalkeeper)
Young goalkeeper joined on loan from Bristol City in March 2013 as cover for the injured Irish until the end of the season.
Since featured for Bromley and Tonbridge Angels in 2013-14 before spending the next few seasons on the south coast with Eastbourne Borough. Across the last few seasons, he has continued to gain exposure in senior football with Thamesmead Town, Lewes and Cray Wanderers FC.
Owen Irish (Centre-Back)
Only played three league games for the club in 2012/2013, after dual registering from Southern League club Taunton Town.
After his brief Weston stint, he continued to become a regular for Taunton as he captained the club before taking a break to take up refereeing instead. Returned to playing in 2019-20, turning out for Taunton and Bridgwater Town in the Western League.
Callum Laird (Right-Back)
Second son of manager Craig to play for Weston in 2012-13, he made three league appearances before becoming more prominent figure throughout the year.
After dad’s departure from club, he signed for Bridgwater Town in summer of 2014 and joined Yate Town a year later.
Moved back to Bridgwater the following summer to join Craig at Fairfax Park, then moved to Dorchester Town in May 2017 and has gone on to represent Cheddar the last two seasons.
Pete Monks (Left-Back)
Joined in summer of 2012 and featured 26 times across the league campaign, then spent periods of the season out on loan with Paulton Rovers and Chippenham Town in 2013-14.
Joined Chippenham permanently a year later, his last known season in club football. Also earned two caps for the British Virgin Islands in 2015.
Manny Parry (Centre-Back)
Powerful defender has gone on to have a successful career since a loan spell in 2012-13 from Stoke City.
Released by Stoke in 2013, he signed for Worcester City before joining Grays Athletic in August 2014. Joined Maidstone United in May 2015 and spent a year with them, before linking up with Margate in June 2016.
Moved to Dover Athletic in June 2017 and established himself as one of the National League’s best centre-backs, eventually joining Woking last summer.
Anton Alvarez Alando (midfield)
Spaniard joined in January 2013 and featured 13 times in the league in the second half of the season, with eight appearances from the bench. Departed the Seagulls in the summer of 2013.
Naby Diallo (Midfielder)
Experienced midfielder signed in 2010 and spent a consistent four years under Laird before moving on to Aldershot Town in July 2014.
Signed for Bath City in January 2015, linkid up with Dover Athletic a few months later, then returned to Bath in summer of 2016 and lasted a year at Twerton Park, before resigning for the Seagulls again in August 2017.
Lasted almost two years at The Optima in his second spell, before being released in March 2019. He signed for Taunton Town the following summer, but failed to appear for the Peacocks since August.
Josh Egan (Winger)
Young winger signed in November 2012 from Chippenham Town in search for regular first-team football, but made just four league appearances for the club.
Dual registered for Paulton Rovers in January 2013 before signing for Shepton Mallet permanently a month later. He moved to Mangotsfield in May 2013 before signing for Shortwood United in August 2014 where he spent an impressive 12 months. Then joined Larkhall Athletic for the next couple of seasons but has been featuring regularly for Bitton in the Western League since 2017.
Dayle Grubb (Winger)
One of the most successful players Weston has ever had. Joined at a young age after his departure from Bristol City and became a mainstay of the Seagulls side over the course of the last decade.
Netted eight goals in Weston’s successful 2012-13 season, and 90 in total for the Seagulls, then moved in January 2018 to League Two outfit Forest Green Rovers and played a vital part in their survival. On loan to National League Eastleigh as 2019-20 season came to a sudden conclusion.
Nat Pepperell (Winger)
Popular winger was known for his deadly ability from the spot and often lit up the right wing in National League South.
Joined Taunton Town on loan in December 2012 and later on a permanent basis, chose to take an indefinite break from the sport in September 2014 after falling out of love with the game.
Robbi Maggs (Striker)
Youngster failed to make a league matchday squad in 2012-13 but has gone on to have a successful career at Western League level. Has made 129 appearances and scored 23 goals for Division One club Cheddar in the last five seasons.
Kayne McLaggon (Striker)
Joined in September 2012 and scored five goals in the league that season before going on to join Merthyr Town in October 2013.
Moved to Barry Town in June 2017 and continues to lead the line for the Cymru Premiership club, earingn a call-up for the Wales C team last year and netting in a 2-2 draw with England C.
Chris Young (Striker)
Featured for Weston across two seasons after joining from Bridgwater Town in 2011, before leaving in 2013 following minimal game time in The Seagulls’ most successful season in history. Since linked up with Taunton Town, which was his last known club in 2012-13.
Marc McGregor (Striker, assistant manager)
Experienced striker appointed as Laird’s number two in 2012 after Jon Haile’s departure to Bristol City, where he only featured in one league game during the season.
Left in 2014, just before Laird, but following a spell coaching in youth football he returned to Weston in 2017 as first-team manager.
Led Seagulls to the Somerset Premier Cup in 2018, before departing the club in March 2019 by mutual consent.
Jon Haile (Assistant manager)
Originally Laird’s assistant during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons before leaving for Bristol City on the eve of the 2012-13 campaign to take up a role as head of youth recruitment at Ashton Gate.
Joined academy team at current European champions Liverpool in 2014, then returned to Weston as football development director in May 2016 and also took charge for two games during the 2016-17 season following Ryan Northmore’s departure.
Haile is currently working abroad.
A huge thank you to Liam Drury for his help in putting this piece together, his contribution has been invaluable and very much appreciated.Josh Thomas