Denis Smith (footballer)

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Not to be confused with Dennis Smith (footballer).
Denis Smith
Denis Smith.jpg
Smith pictured in 2013
Personal information
Full name Denis Smith[1]
Date of birth (1947-11-19) 19 November 1947 (age 66)[1]
Place of birth Meir, Stoke-on-Trent, England[1]
Playing position Defender
Youth career
1964–1967 Stoke City
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1968–1982 Stoke City 407 (29)
1982 York City (loan) 7 (1)
1982–1983 York City 30 (4)
Total 444 (34)
Teams managed
1982–1987 York City
1987–1991 Sunderland
1992–1993 Bristol City
1993–1997 Oxford United
1997–1999 West Bromwich Albion
2000 Oxford United
2001–2007 Wrexham
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Denis Smith (born 19 November 1947) is an English former football manager and player. He played almost 500 matches for Stoke City and ended his career with York City with whom he went into management. He then went on to manage Sunderland, Bristol City, Oxford United (two spells), West Bromwich Albion and Wrexham.[1][2]

Playing career[edit]

Smith was born in Meir, Stoke-on-Trent and attended Queensbury Road School, with whom he won the Stoke Schools Trophy and he also played for the Stoke-on-Trent Schoolboys.[2] During his teenage years Smith established a pattern that would shape his career by breaking his left leg twice in typical committed tackles. Persuaded by his parents to remain at school until the age of 18, Smith eventually signed for Stoke City in September 1966.[2] Held back by manager Tony Waddington until nearly 21, Smith established himself in Stoke's first team alongside Alan Bloor at the end of the 1968–69 season.[2] Their partnership at the heart of Stoke's home-grown back four became the rock upon which the success of the 1970s was built.[2] Early into his career Smith soon developed a reputation as a 'hard player', he would launch himself at opponents determined to either block a shot and win the ball which usually resulted in him injuring himself.[2] He played in the 1972 Football League Cup Final as Stoke beat Chelsea 2–1 to win their first major trophy.[2] A leg break in March 1975 cost Stoke the chance to win the title in 1974–75. In January 1976 following Jimmy Greenhoff's sale to Manchester United Smith took over as captain but could not prevent a financially weakened Stoke being relegated in 1976–77. Following relegation he formed another good partnership this time with Mike Doyle, which helped Stoke gain promotion in 1978–79.[2] A pre-season injury kept him out of the entire 1980–81 season during which time he coached the reserves.[2] After a loan spell with York City Smith was handed a free transfer to York where he became player-manager.[2] In total Smith made 488 appearances for Stoke scoring 41 goals.[2]

During Smith's 14 seasons with the Potters he became known for his 'die for the cause' mentality which led to him having a large number of injuries. These included five broken legs, breaking his nose four times, a cracked ankle, broken collar bone, chipped spine, breaking most of his fingers and toes and needing more than 200 stitches.[3] The sequence saw him named in the Guinness Book of Records as the most injured man in football.[2]

Managerial career[edit]

He moved into management with York City as player-manager on 12 May 1982, ahead of the 1982–83 season.[4] He retired from playing after one season and in his second season as York manager guided them to Fourth Division title glory and promotion to the Third Division. In January 1985 he guided the Third Division club to a famous victory over Arsenal in the FA Cup Fourth Round. In the next round York drew 1–1 at home with Liverpool, before losing 7–0 away at Anfield. The previous season, under Smith's guidance York became the first English club to reach 100 points when they romped away with the Fourth Division championship. He remained at Bootham Crescent until 31 May 1987 when he moved to Sunderland who had just been relegated to the Third Division for the first time in their history.[5] This was a surprise choice to many York fans as Smith had been lucky to keep his job that season as York finished one place above relegation.

In his first season at Sunderland he guided them to the Third Division championship and promotion with a record 101 points. They achieved a top-half finish in the 1988–89 Second Division campaign and reaching the playoff final in 1989–90. They lost 1–0 to Swindon Town but were promoted a month later when Swindon were found guilty of financial irregularities and remained in the Second Division. Sunderland struggled throughout 1990–91 and their battle against relegation from the First Division was lost on the last day of the season. Smith's side performed inconsistently on their return to the Second Division and with the team struggling near the foot of the table,[citation needed] he was sacked on 30 December 1991.[6]

Smith was soon back in the game after being appointed manager of Bristol City in the Second Division on 9 March 1992,[7] but was sacked after 10 months on 21 January 1993 following a run of 10 matches without a victory.[8] During his time as manager of Bristol City, he brought striker Andrew Cole (then aged 20) on loan from Arsenal and after the player scored eight goals in 12 league games, he paid a club record £500,000 to secure him on a permanent basis, which provided excellent value for money as Cole went on to have a successful career.

He made a return to management with Oxford United on 10 September 1993[7] but was unable to save them from relegation to the Second Division. In 1994–95, Oxford just missed out on the Second Division play-offs but in 1995–96 were promoted back to the First Division as runners-up of the Second Division. They achieved a mid-table finish in the 1996–97 First Division campaign but Smith resigned the following December with the club £10 million in debt—a financial crisis which lasted until the end of 2000–01, by which time the club had been relegated to the Third Division.

Smith was appointed manager of West Bromwich Albion on a three-year contract on 24 December 1997, with Oxford receiving around £100,000 in compensation.[9] He guided Albion to two mid-table finishes in the First Division[citation needed] and was sacked on 27 July 1999.[10]

On 3 February 2000, Smith was appointed manager of Oxford for the second time in seven years.[7] He saved the club from relegation to the Third Division but resigned on 2 October 2000 after a terrible start to 2000–01, a season which ended in Oxford getting relegated.[11]

Smith made his return to management on 8 October 2001 with Wrexham on a two-year contract, replacing Brian Flynn who had resigned after 12 years in charge.[12] He was unable to save the club from relegation to the Third Division and his task for restoring the club's fortunes was made all the harder by the collapse of ITV Digital which left Wrexham with virtually no funds for buying new players with. But he proved all the odds wrong at the end of the 2002–03 season, when Wrexham finished third in the Third Division and claimed the last automatic promotion place to the Second Division. As credit for his achievements he won the League Managers Association Manager of the Year Award for the second time in his managerial career — he had won it 19 years earlier when guiding York City to the Fourth Division championship in 1984. The 2004–05 season was extremely difficult for Wrexham, thanks to behind the scenes manoeuvrings by club chairman Alex Hamilton who was trying to evict the club from its ground (now owned by another of his companies), and the club was placed in Administration to escape its creditors, becoming the first club to suffer a consequential deduction of ten points, which saw the club relegated at the end of the season. Despite having to operate a hand-to-mouth cash-only existence, Smith still managed to take Wrexham to victory in the Football League Trophy. Wrexham's finances were still causing difficulty in 2005–06, and Smith was unable to guide the club to anything more than a mid table finish. With Wrexham hovering above the relegation zone, Smith and assistant Kevin Russell were sacked on 11 January 2007.[13]

Post-retirement[edit]

In November 2008 Smith saw his autobiography released entitled "Just One Of Seven". He writes a weekly column for The Sentinel and is occasionally a commentator on Stoke matches for BBC Radio Stoke.

In July 2011 Smith re-joined Stoke City on a part-time basis as a mentor for young Academy players needing guidance off the pitch.[14][15]

Career statistics[edit]

As a player[edit]

Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other[A] Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Stoke City 1968–69 First Division 14 0 0 0 0 0 14 0
1969–70 First Division 40 4 3 0 1 0 44 4
1970–71 First Division 36 0 8 2 2 0 2 0 48 2
1971–72 First Division 28 5 9 1 9 2 8 2 54 10
1972–73 First Division 39 4 1 0 2 0 2 0 44 4
1973–74 First Division 41 4 1 0 3 1 5 0 50 5
1974–75 First Division 30 2 1 0 4 1 2 1 37 4
1975–76 First Division 19 3 3 1 0 0 22 4
1976–77 First Division 30 2 1 0 0 0 31 2
1977–78 Second Division 41 1 0 0 1 0 42 1
1978–79 Second Division 38 2 1 0 5 0 44 2
1979–80 First Division 34 2 1 0 4 1 39 3
1980–81 First Division 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1981–82 First Division 17 0 0 0 2 0 19 0
Total 407 29 29 4 33 5 19 3 488 41
York City (loan) 1981–82 Fourth Division 7 1 0 0 0 0 7 1
York City 1982–83 Fourth Division 30 4 4 0 2 0 36 4
Total 37 5 4 0 2 0 43 5
Career Total 444 34 33 4 35 5 19 3 531 46
A. ^ The "Other" column constitutes appearances and goals in the UEFA Cup, Texaco Cup, Anglo-Italian Cup and Anglo-Scottish Cup.

As a manager[edit]

Team From To Record Ref
G W D L Win %
York City 12 May 1982 31 May 1987 279 128 64 87 45.9 [16]
Sunderland 31 May 1987 30 December 1991 238 91 64 83 38.2 [5]
Bristol City 9 March 1992 21 January 1993 48 15 10 23 31.3 [17]
Oxford United 10 September 1993 24 December 1997 248 99 60 89 39.9 [18]
West Bromwich Albion 24 December 1997 27 July 1999 74 22 20 32 30.6 [19]
Oxford United 3 February 2000 2 October 2000 30 8 3 19 26.7 [7]
Wrexham 8 October 2001 11 January 2007 278 101 68 109 36.3 [7]
Total 1,195 464 289 442 38.8

Honours[edit]

As a player[edit]

Stoke City

As a manager[edit]

York City

Sunderland

Oxford United

Wrexham

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Matthews, Tony (1994). The Encyclopaedia of Stoke City. Lion Press. ISBN 0-9524151-0-0. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Stoke City 101 Golden Greats. Desert Islands Books. 2002. ISBN 1-874287554. 
  3. ^ "Potters hero Denis invited to kick off village festivities". The Sentinel (Stoke-on-Trent). 7 November 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Batters, Dave (2008). York City: The Complete Record. Breedon Books. p. 223. ISBN 9-781859-836330. 
  5. ^ a b "Dennis Smith". The Stat Cat. Archived from the original on 20 May 2008. 
  6. ^ Rollin, Jack, ed. (1992). Rothmans Football Yearbook 1992–93. Headline Publishing. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-7472-7905-1. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Denis Smith". Soccerbase. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Haylett, Trevor; Lovejoy, Joe (22 January 1993). "Football: Bristol City sack Smith and promote Osman". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  9. ^ Moore, David (24 December 1997). "Football: Albion job for Smith". The Mirror (London). Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  10. ^ Rollin, Glenda; Rollin, Jack, eds. (2000). Rothmans Football Yearbook 2000–2001. Headline Publishing Group. p. 11. ISBN 9-780747-272328. 
  11. ^ "Smith quits as Oxford boss". BBC Sport. 2 October 2000. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  12. ^ "Smith takes over at Wrexham". BBC Sport. 8 October 2001. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  13. ^ "Smith and Russell depart Wrexham". BBC Sport. 11 January 2007. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "Legends sign-up for Potters Premier League revolution". The Sentinel (Stoke-on-Trent). 13 July 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "Denis Smith and Alan Durban to assist Stoke's academy". BBC Sport. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  16. ^ Batters. York City: The Complete Record. pp. 358–368, 412. 
  17. ^ Rollin (ed.). Rothmans Football Yearbook 1992–93. p. 110. 
    Rollin, Jack, ed. (1993). Rothmans Football Yearbook 1993–94. Headline Publishing Group. pp. 106, 616–624, 631–634, 662. ISBN 978-0-7472-7895-5. 
  18. ^ Rollin, Jack, ed. (1994). Rothmans Football Yearbook 1994–95. Headline Publishing Group. pp. 376, 621–622, 631–632, 660–664. ISBN 978-0-7472-7857-3. 
    Rollin, Jack, ed. (1995). Rothmans Football Yearbook 1995–96. Headline Publishing Group. pp. 264, 579–585, 596–600, 610. ISBN 978-0-7472-7823-8. 
    Rollin, Glenda, ed. (1996). Rothmans Football Yearbook 1996–97. Headline Publishing Group. pp. 264, 573–579, 587–590, 598–605. ISBN 978-0-7472-7781-1. 
    Rollin, Glenda; Rollin, Jack, eds. (1997). Rothmans Football Yearbook 1997–98. Headline Publishing Group. pp. 272, 577–585, 604. ISBN 978-0-7472-7738-5. 
    "1997/98". Soccerbase. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  19. ^ "1997/98". Soccerbase. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
    "1998/99". Soccerbase. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 

External links[edit]