Stan Seymour appointed Smith as his assistant at Newcastle United in 1939 and he helped contribute to the club's success in the 1950s. The loyalty he had shown by staying at the club for twenty-two years was rewarded in 1961 when he was appointed the new manager of the club, following Charlie Mitten's sacking. While he only won twelve games out of thirty-five during his period in charge, this was enough to stave off relegation to the Third Division, which had looked a distinct possibility when Mitten was sacked, and he still had the respect of the fans for staying with the club for so long and showing a passion for the club. He stepped down as manager at the end of the season and was succeeded by Joe Harvey, though Smith remained at the club in various other capacities for several more years.
Smith died suddenly in 1978, while on his way home from Newcastle's stadium St James' Park after watching the team play.