Kevan Smith

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Kevan Smith
Personal information
Full name Kevan Smith[1]
Date of birth (1959-12-13) 13 December 1959 (age 57)[1]
Place of birth Eaglescliffe, England
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)[2]
Playing position Defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1979–1985 Darlington 245 (11)
1985–1986 Rotherham United 59 (4)
1986–1988 Coventry City 6 (0)
1988–1989 York City 31 (5)
1989–1993 Darlington 98 (5)
1992 Hereford United (loan) 6 (0)
1993 Sliema Wanderers ? (?)
1993–1994 Hereford United 18 (0)
1994 Whitby Town ? (?)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Kevan Smith (born 13 December 1959) is an English former footballer. He played a part in three of Darlington's promotions. Smith played over 400 games for Darlington in two separate spells.


Born in Eaglescliffe, Co. Durham in December 1959, defender Smith first appeared for his local team Darlington on trial in a game against the club's professionals under Len Walker before playing in the reserves against Barnsley. In the summer of 1979 Walker left the Quakers but Smith was invited back by newly appointed Billy Elliott. Smith impressed Elliott in the reserves and was quickly snapped up.

Smith made his debut at Torquay United in September 1979 as the Quakers lost 4-0. Teammate Clive Nattress called him 'Smudger'[citation needed]. It was a nickname which stuck with him for the rest of his time at the club. Smith was a brave, hard-working and committed player.[citation needed].

However, it was under Elliott's successor Cyril Knowles, who said he could not believe Smudger was a footballer, that Smith really came into his own and by his own admission improved as a player. Knowles, who joined Darlington in 1983, demanded nothing less than 100% from his players and Smith filled the mould perfectly. The 1984/85 season saw Darlington promoted from the Fourth Division, but Smith left for Rotherham feeling the manager did not rate him highly enough[citation needed].

Smith later moved to Coventry City for £65,000. Although he was in the Coventry squad when they won the FA Cup (although he did not play), he played only a handful of top flight games for the Sky Blues, partly due to injury. He moved to York City in 1988. Things failed to work out for Smith at Bootham Crescent, but by this stage both Darlington and rivals Hartlepool United were interested in securing his services.[citation needed]

Smith rejoined Darlington, who had recently been relegated to the Conference, after speaking to Brian Little[citation needed]. In under a year Smith had dropped from the top of English football to the bottom. But this second spell at Darlington would prove to be the best years of Smith's career[citation needed].

Darlington won promotion from the Conference at the first attempt and the following season (1990/91) were promoted from the Fourth Division to the Third. Little left to join Leicester City and the bottom dropped out of Smith's world[citation needed]. The pair were very close[citation needed] and Little was begged to stay by the player[citation needed]. Little recommended Smith for the management job at the club but instead Smudger convinced Frank Gray to take the job[citation needed]. Rumours persisted about Smith taking over as the Quakers struggled in the higher league. Smith tried to quash the rumours but was dropped by Gray[citation needed].

Smith had felt he was too young for the job, but when Gray left the club in 1992 Smith applied for the job. However, Ray Hankin was given the position on a temporary measure. Smith had hoped to get the job and had an interview[citation needed], though the Quakers installed Billy McEwan on a permanent basis. The pair's relationship was rocky at best[citation needed]. In the summer of 1992 Smith required a major operation and was told he would need ten weeks to recover but came back after nine. Upon coming back, McEwan said he wanted a new centre back[citation needed].

Matters remained difficult between the pair and later McEwan told Smith he was being released on a free transfer. By this stage though Smith was close to a testimonial and refused to leave[citation needed]. The relationship between the pair got worse and Smith was left further isolated and had to train on his own[citation needed]. Towards the end of his time at the club Smith did regain his place in the team. Between September 1997 and October 1998 Smith was joint Manager of Northern League club Crook Town working with former Darlington teammate Paul Cross.

The public and fanzine Mission Impossible backed the player. Smith returned to the Quakers to work for them as Football in the Community (FITC) Officer and went on to be Assistant Manager at Hull City with Little.




  1. ^ a b Hugman, Barry J. (2005). The PFA Premier & Football League Players' Records 1946-2005. Queen Anne Press. p. 572. ISBN 1-85291-665-6. 
  2. ^ Jarred, Martin; Windross, Dave (1997). Citizens and Minstermen, A Who's Who of York City FC 1922-1997. Citizen Publications. p. 94. ISBN 0-9531005-0-2.