Ex-Preston North End man says £2.5million transfer fell through after horror injury
Former Preston North End defender Scott Laird has revealed that the Lilywhites received bids of £2.5million for him, during his time at Deepdale.
The left-back was brought to PNE in 2012 by his old Stevenage boss, Graham Westley. Laird was an instant hit at North End and a stand out performer in the first few months of the League One season. However, disaster struck in November when Jamal Campbell-Ryce broke the defender’s leg in the 90th minute, at home to Notts County.
Laird returned to action in the August of next year, with his speed down the left flank never quite the same again. He went on to make 108 appearances for the club in total, scoring a famous opening goal at home to Manchester United in the FA Cup.
Laird’s early days at Preston were fantastic though and it has now come to light that Watford and Bristol City - Championship clubs at the time - were vying for his signature given his start to life at PNE. The 35-year-old shared the story on the Undr The Cosh podcast - hosted by ex-North End forwards Jon Parkin and Chris Brown.
He said: “We started the season really well. We were beating Brenford and then they equalised in the last minute of the game. When we were winning, we were in the play-offs. The next game, I broke my leg in the 94th minute against Notts County. And Keith Keane, the right back, did his cruciate (ligament). Westley loved his full-backs; he lost me and Keano, for the rest of the season, in the same game.
“I was on fire. On that Monday (before Notts County on the Tuesday), I’d just got called up to the Scotland national side, and Bristol City and Watford had just put £2.5million bids in for me. Westley called me in to say that the Scotland squad was getting announced, he wanted me to play on Tuesday and then Wednesday I could go down to Bristol and Watford to discuss. I then wouldn’t have to play again until January.
“But I broke my leg in the 94th minute. And, me being me, everyone said: ‘You idiot... why did you play?’. But, I loved playing football and I just wanted to play. I was on fire and for Preston, I didn’t want to just pull out. It probably (would’ve) sounded better if we’d announced it after the game - that I was willing to play the last game and then go to Bristol: back home, with all my mates and family who support Bristol City.
“£2.5million, it would’ve changed my life financially. I was back in time for the end of the season, but (Simon) Grayson had come in and he said that we weren’t going to get in the play-offs, so he wanted to get me ready for pre-season and next season. It was Jamal Campbell-Ryce; I was really good friends with him. You know when somebody has gone to maliciously do you, don’t you? You know when somebody has gone to hurt you.
“He didn’t. It was the last minute of the game, I’ve tried to knock it off him to win a corner, he’s stopped me, gone over the ball and caught me. I heard something and I was hoping it was my shin pad, but I quickly realised it wasn’t. He is a really good friend of mine; he was crying after the game and he rang me every few weeks. He didn’t mean to do it.”