Hird not surprised by Proact exit but devastated he couldn’t keep them up

Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Cambridge United v Chesterfield FC; 21/10/2017 KO 15.00; Cambs Glass Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Spireites skipper Sam Hird leaps with Cambridge's Uche Ikpeazu
Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Cambridge United v Chesterfield FC; 21/10/2017 KO 15.00; Cambs Glass Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Spireites skipper Sam Hird leaps with Cambridge's Uche Ikpeazu

Sam Hird has not been taken by surprise at Chesterfield’s decision not to offer him a new deal.

The defender, who joined the Spireites in June 2012 and made over 200 Football League appearances, admits the injury that ended his season and his wages were probably factors the club took into consideration.

Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Barnet v Chesterfield FC; 05/05/2018 KO 15:00; The Hive Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Spireites' defender Sam Hird thanks the travelling fans

Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Barnet v Chesterfield FC; 05/05/2018 KO 15:00; The Hive Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Spireites' defender Sam Hird thanks the travelling fans

And while he suspected the club would look to go in a different direction, he too had begun to think about a move from the Proact.

That doesn’t mean it’s not an emotional exit for the 30-year-old.

“I’ve been there such a long time now, it’s upsetting really,” he said.

“I’m upset for the club, where they find themselves.

“It’s a shame.

“When you’ve been there six years, had some great successes, met some great people, it’s such a shame to be leaving on a low point.

“I’m devastated that I’ve not been able to keep them up.

“For me it’s gutting to see where they are from the success they’ve had.

“At the end of the day we’ve gone from being the most successful teams in the last 37 years, in terms of league position, to being in the National League and that’s a travesty.

“I genuinely hope they can turn it around.

Hird’s departure, which was announced today at the same time as the exits of good friend and defensive partner Ian Evatt and fellow stalwart Drew Talbot, was something he saw coming.

“Am I surprised? No. The injury I’ve had, my operation, from the club’s point of view I understand that.

“It was frustrating to get the injury, it kept me out for just over half the season and I wasn’t able to help keep them in the league.

“If a few of us had been fit, I do believe we would have been able to help the gaffer and his staff to do that.

“My wage will be an issue, being injured will be an issue, they probably want to take a different approach regarding players and budget.

“Different things to do with a contract were discussed, but it was agreed that moving forward it was best for both parties if I left.”

Success is something Hird can say he tasted as a Spireite, winning a League Two title in 2013/14 and reaching the League One play-offs the following season.

That was part of his decision to stay when other clubs came knocking.

“At different stages there were opportunities to go elsewhere, just like most footballers.

“I stayed for a few reasons. I loved my time at the club, we’ve had some great success, promotions, winning trophies, I’ve met some great people and I think the club have looked after me.

“The promotion from League Two and getting to the play-offs in the team we had that season were particular highs.

“Chesterfield Football Club are never going to be in a position to pay enormous amounts of money but in lots of other ways the club have looked after me and I like to think I have repaid that with consistent performances, being part of a successful team, doing my job on the pitch.

“The last 18 months haven’t been great, I’ve had injuries, and if I would have been fit and a number of other players, things might have been different. That’s the way it is though.”

Although he’s earned veteran status, thanks to 365 league appearances since his professional career began in 2006 with Doncaster Rovers, Hird is still relatively young in playing terms and feels he has a lot more to give.

He certainly doesn’t feel his days as a Football League player are over.

“I’m not one of these footballers who’d say anything other than the truth.

“If I’m honest, since I started to build up my fitness and where the club find themselves, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t started to think about myself and my career.

“I do believe I can play at a higher level, I’ve proved that in my career.

“Every player wants to play as high as he can for as long as he can.”

He’s typically honest in his assessment of his relationship with the supporters of the club he’s leaving, supporters he had to work hard to impress.

“Football fans at any club can be fickle, but in general Chesterfield supporters have been very supportive of me.

“I had to work hard at the beginning to win them over. When I first came to the club for the first six months I struggle with form.

“But I won them back over with consistent performances and hard work and proved what a good player I can be.

“I like to think that over 240 or so games I’ve produced consistent performances.”

Of the three departures announced today, Hird’s is perhaps the most understandable and he appears to be packing his bags on good terms.

The centre-half, who has aspirations of becoming a manager one day and has begun taking his coaching badges, hopes the club will bounce back from their second consecutive relegation.

“I would like to thank the club, the chairman, the supporters and everyone around the club, the kitchen staff, cleaners, kit men, there’s some great people there and I wish them all the best.

“I just hope whichever way they choose to go with a new manager that the club is successful.

“I’ll always look out for them and maybe sometime in the future I might end up back there.”