Nov 21 2012 By Colin Paterson
Kieron Stallard has quit Airdrie to move to Australia.
The 22-year-old midfielder had his contract at New Broomfield terminated by mutual consent and flew down under on Tuesday evening.
Chapelhall lad Stallard, a popular figure at the club, played his final game for the Diamonds at the weekend in the 1-1 draw with Cowdenbeath at Central Park.
He said his emotional farewells at training on Monday evening before making final preparations for the marathon journey to Perth in Western Australia.
Stallard admitted it was a wrench to leave Airdrie after spending two-and-a-half years with the club.
But he believes he is making the right decision and hopes to learn a trade as well as play football on the other side of the globe.
He said: “I have always thought about doing something like this, especially if I became part-time.
“It’s a bit nerve-wracking but I just feel that I have to go for it.
“I have loved my time with Airdrie and the club has done so much for me in the past couple of years.
“I’ll always be grateful for everything the gaffer [Jimmy Boyle], Alan Lawrence [assistant manager] and Ann Marie Ballantyne [club director and secretary] have done for me.
“The club have been brilliant in allowing me to go off and do this and the gaffer has said I just need to pick up the phone if I want to come back should things not work out.
“Leaving is a hard thing to do and there were almost tears in my eyes when I went up to the stadium on Monday to see everyone. I’ve known people at the club for a long time.
“Had I been a full-time player, I probably wouldn’t have gone. But I’ve been working in an office for the past few months and I think there will be more opportunities over there.”
Stallard will hook up with two former Airdrie players who have already made the move to Oz — defender Euen Grant and forward Clark Rankin.
He hopes to play for a team in the Western Australia Premier League with the season due to start in the New Year.
“Euen plays in that league and says it is of a good standard,” Stallard added. “You get more time on the ball.
“There are always clubs looking for players so something should come up. There are a few Scottish players in Australia and getting to the A-League is my ultimate target.”
Stallard departs Airdrie with the team second-bottom of the Irn-Bru First Division table.
But he is convinced there is enough quality in the squad for league survival to be achievevd. He said: “We just need to be more consistent and stop conceding sloppy goals. I hope the fans stick by the players.”
Meanwhile, full-back Michael Hart has also left the club by mutual consent. The 32-year-old defender is moving to Aberdeen to take up a full-time job opportunity working offshore.