As announced by the player last week via social media, club captain Laura Bright issued a statement which revealed medical guidance has forced her hand to retire from football.
Laura arrived at Stadium MK back in 2018, following a successful spell with Cambridge United. The experienced centre-half made an instant impact at MK Dons, which saw Bright earn the honour of the captain’s armband within her first season at the club. The player established herself instantaneously and led the team to a ninth-place finish in their first-ever season within the third tier of Women’s football.
Unfortunately, the seasons following their first stint within the FAWNL Premier Division were heavily disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this proved a great challenge for the team, Laura Bright’s influence then switched to heavily impact the players and staff off the pitch.
During a time where it would’ve been natural to feel quite isolated and separated as a group, the Women’s captain constantly stayed in touch with the whole squad, which had greatly supported establishing the values that have helped shape MK Dons Women into their current position today.
Last season’s campaign started with a defeat to Southampton Women, which would later prove costly as a run of poor form continued from the opener. This resulted in the Dons being placed thirteenth within the league, deep-rooted into the relegation zone.
Prior to the 2021/22 Christmas break, the Skipper nodded home what would inevitably be the winner of the clash between MK Dons and Plymouth Argyle. Unbeknown to the group, this result would completely re-vitalise the squad, and start a surge in form, which evidently contributed to the escape of projected relegation.
Without awareness, the fixture between the Dons and Hounslow on January 9, would serve to be Laura Bright’s last-ever game at Stadium MK. A dominant display from the home side saw a 5-0 victory, in which the defender not only kept a clean sheet, but also scored in what would be a fitting performance to conclude the defender’s final game at the home of MK Dons.
Within the return fixture, Bright sustained a devastating knee injury, which consequently kept the player from returning to the field and would unfortunately be the incident that forced her decision to retire from the sport.
Regardless of the injury, the captain remained an ever-present figure at training, as well as games to support the squad and ensure that she could help guide them out of the drop zone from the side-lines. Even when faced with her own adversities, Bright continued to give every effort whilst remaining positive and determined around the group, which proved to be one of the biggest factors in last season’s turnaround.
MK Dons escaped the drop zone and remained within the third tier of Women’s football, which was massively influenced by the club captain, who helped MK Dons Women’s manager Charlie Bill every step of the way. Questioned on the retirement of Bright, Bill had this to say “I’ve had the pleasure to manage Laura Bright for over four years now.
“I can safely say that she is one of the most driven, humble and passionate individuals I have ever worked with. She has been a real role-model for our younger players within the RTC pathway and helped drive this club forward both on and off the pitch.
“I know that this club feels like home for Laura, this might be the end of the journey on the pitch, but it’s certainly not the end away from the pitch. I have an excellent relationship with her, and we will continue to work very closely on a day-to-day basis.
“I can’t thank LB (Laura Bright) enough for the years of dedication that she has given and how she has led this team forward – I know she will be watching on as a proud captain now.”
So far, the 2022/23 season has started in great form with the Dons currently sitting in sixth place. Although absent from the matchday squad, the captain has continued to inspire, motivate and support the young group of players. Once again, building upon the foundations that she has helped to establish in seasons prior, whilst offering her invaluable experience to the team.
Milton Keynes Dons FC Women are immensely thankful for the influence and impact that Laura Bright has made at the club. She has helped shape the values whilst supporting the growth of the team, both on and off the pitch.
We would like to wish LB a happy retirement and look forward to following her exciting next steps.