Thomas H. Smith

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For other people named Thomas Henry Smith, see Thomas Henry Smith (disambiguation).

Thomas Henry Smith (born 1 July 1830 in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, Ireland[1]) was an Irish Australian who had a clear role in the origins of Australian football by being one of the first people to introduce school football games to Australian public schools in 1858 and as one of the founders of the Melbourne Football Club.

Smith was a founding member and signatory to the foundation document of the Melbourne Football Club. According to some sources (including himself in an 1876 letter to The Australasian[2]) he was one of few people to be present at the meeting of the incorporation of the club on 17 May 1859. At this meeting, the first Laws of Australian Football were decided upon and written.

Smith was also a distinguished player for the club.


Educated at Trinity College (Dublin University) (1846–50), Smith was a headmaster at several Melbourne secondary schools including the Model School and inspector for schools for Bendigo.

Nicknamed "red" or "football" (after his red hair),[2] Smith was involved in early experimental matches of Australian Football against Melbourne Grammar School between July–August 1858 and is said to have facilitated the matches as one of three teachers who took part.

He was captain of the Melbourne Football club in 1862 during the Caledonian Society games. He was also the first captain to take a test away from home when Melbourne played the Geelong Football Club and won.

In 1864 he was suspended from teaching due to his sharp temper and strict discipline before resigning from his position in 1875.[3]

He moved to South Australia and in 1876, wrote to The Australasian from there to speak out against what he perceived as poor journalism from which had overlooked his role in the foundation of the Melbourne Football Club.

Details of his life are scant and according to the Melbourne Football Club, it is not known when and where he died.


  1. ^ pg 36. Melbourne FC, Since 1858 - An Illustrated History. Geoff Slattery Publishing 2008
  2. ^ a b The Australasian 26 February 1876.
  3. ^ Gillian Hibbins