Tommy Smith (footballer, born 1945)

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This article is about the Liverpool footballer. For other people with this name, see Tommy Smith (disambiguation).
Tommy Smith
Tommy Smith (1966).jpg
Smith pictured in October 1966.
Personal information
Full name Thomas Smith
Date of birth (1945-04-05) 5 April 1945 (age 71)
Place of birth Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[1]
Playing position Defender
Youth career
1960–1962 Liverpool
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1962–1978 Liverpool 467 (36)
1976 Tampa Bay Rowdies (loan) 17 (0)
1978 Los Angeles Aztecs 12 (0)
1978–1979 Swansea City 36 (2)
Total 532 (38)
National team
1965–1968 England U23 10 (2)
1971 England 1 (0)
Teams managed
1978 Los Angeles Aztecs

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.


Thomas "Tommy" Smith MBE (born 5 April 1945) is an ex-England international footballer who played as a defender at Liverpool for 16 years from 1962 to 1978. Known for his uncompromising defensive style, manager Bill Shankly once said of him: "Tommy Smith wasn't born, he was quarried".

Club career[edit]

Liverpool[edit]

Tommy Smith was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, on 5 April 1945; he was an only child.[2] His father died of pneumonia in 1959.[3] Brought up a Catholic, he stopped attending church after witnessing the local priest stagger out of the house drunk after he came to the family home to offer his condolences.[4] Smith joined the groundstaff at Anfield the following year, become a schoolboy associate of Liverpool, the club he had supported all his life.[5] Initially a centre-forward, he impressed manager Bill Shankly enough to bypass two of the club's four reserve teams to immediately play for the 'A' team.[6] He further made an impression in the 1961–62 pre-season when he beat imposing centre-half Ron Yeats to a header to score in training.[7] He turned professional in summer 91962, on wages of £18-a-week.[8]

He made his first debut for the "Reds" on 8 May 1963, replacing an injured Jimmy Melia, in a 5–1 home victory over Birmingham City.[9] However he made no further appearances throughout the rest of the 1962–63 season, and did not feature in the 1963–64 First Division title winning season. He married Susanne in July 1964, following a four-year courtship.[10]

He scored his first goal for Liverpool in his second match, playing at inside-left in a 3–2 defeat to Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on 29 August 1964.[11] He kept his place for the following game, and again scored as Liverpool beat Leeds United 2–1.[12] He was returned to the reserves after two more appearances, before returning to the first team as a defender in a 3–0 win over Belgian side Anderlecht in the European Cup; after the match Shankly said that "The game marked out Tommy Smith as a fine player. The boy has arrived".[13] He ended the 1964–65 season with four goals in 25 league games, spent mostly at right-half.[14] He also played in every game of Liverpool's FA Cup run as they beat West Bromwich Albion, Stockport County (after a replay), Bolton Wanderers, Leicester City (after a replay), and Chelsea to reach the 1965 FA Cup Final against Leeds United at Wembley Stadium; Liverpool won the game 2–1 to lift the trophy for the first time in the club's history.[15]

He played in the 1965 FA Charity Shield against Manchester United at Old Trafford, where a 2–2 draw meant that two clubs shared the trophy.[16] Liverpool then recovered from a loss and a defeat to Sheffield United in the opening two games of the 1965–66 season to go on a strong run of form that included convincing victories over West Ham United (5–1), Merseyside derby rivals Everton (5–0), Nottingham Forest (4–0), Northampton Town (5–0), and Blackburn Rovers (5–2); Smith managed to score against both Everton and Blackburn.[17] They went unbeaten for a total of 18 games from October to late February, and then lost just one of their final ten games to secure the league title with a six-point lead over runners-up Leeds United.[18] They had conceded just 34 goals, the lowest total of any team in the Football League.[19] Liverpool also reached the 1966 European Cup Winners' Cup Final to face German side Borussia Dortmund at Hampden Park, but Smith admitted that his side "lacked our usual edge and appeared disjointed" as they lost the game 2–1 in extra-time.[20]

Smith played in the 1966 FA Charity Shield against Everton at Goodison Park, helping his side to a clean sheet and a 1–0 victory.[21] This would prove to be the last trophy for five years however, despite a good start to the 1966–67 season that included a 5–0 win over Leeds United.[22] Their form slipped in the second half of the campaign, as they fell to fifth place.[23] Liverpool were more consistent across the 1967–68 campaign, but ended up in third-place, three points behind champions Manchester City.[24] They came even close in the 1968–69 season, where a 0–0 draw with Leeds an Anfield was enough to win Leeds the title, whilst Liverpool went on to finish as runners-up.[25]

Smith was given the honour of club captaincy and led the team to the 1971 FA Cup final, which Liverpool lost to Arsenal 2–1 after extra time. In 1973, Smith skippered the team to their first double success of the League and UEFA Cup, when they topped the league by three points over Arsenal and beat Borussia Mönchengladbach in the UEFA Cup final 3–2 on aggregate.

The following season, after Smith complained to Shankly at being left out of the team for a game, he had the big disappointment of losing the captaincy to Emlyn Hughes. Earlier, Hughes had told Shankly to remove the captaincy from Smith and give it to a younger man. When he returned, he was also moved from his favoured central defensive role to full back. Although Smith ultimately settled his differences with Shankly satisfactorily, a long-running feud developed between Smith and Hughes which led to some tension in the Liverpool dressing room, where the older players remained loyal to Smith and voiced their dislike of Hughes's chattiness (and parsimony in the pub).[26]

Hughes went on to lift the FA Cup as captain in 1974 after Liverpool comprehensively beat Newcastle United 3–0 in one of the most one-sided of Wembley finals. Although Smith missed out on receiving the trophy from Princess Anne, he did have the pleasure of setting up the third and final goal for the young striker Keegan, a stunning team goal.

As Smith's twilight years approached, he made fewer appearances and with the emergence of youngsters Phil Thompson and Phil Neal as central defender and full back respectively, though he still played an important role as Liverpool managed another League and UEFA Cup dual success in 1976, when he appeared 24 times in the league and played a left-back role in both legs of the UEFA final. The following year, which Smith had announced would be his final season with the club, started with him out of the side for several months, but ended with his finest moment.

Smith spent the 1976 season playing 17 games on loan as a defender for the Tampa Bay Rowdies, where he continued his trademark toughness and earned the nickname, "The Tank."[27] He then returned to England.

Smith was left out of the side that started the 1976–77 season but, when Thompson picked up an injury in Liverpool's 1–0 win over Newcastle in the month of March, he was recalled and kept his place as the side went on to retain the League title. Smith then played in the 1977 FA Cup final which Liverpool lost to bitter rivals Manchester United, thereby ruining the chance of a treble, with the club's first European Cup final in Rome due a few days later. Despite the disappointment of the defeat at Wembley, Liverpool played magnificently to beat old UEFA Cup foes Borussia Mönchengladbach 3–1, with Smith scoring a towering header from a corner to make the score 2–1. It was his 48th and final goal for the club and the first for the season. The BBC commentator Barry Davies described the goal with the words "It's Tommy Smith! Oh what an end to a career."[28]

Smith decided to delay his retirement and played a further season for Liverpool (missing the successful retention of the European Cup after a DIY accident at home injured his foot).

Later career[edit]

He spent the summer of 1978 in the NASL with the Los Angeles Aztecs. He started as a player but became player/head coach halfway through the season. At the end of the season he was replaced by Dutch legend Rinus Michels.

Smith left for Swansea City after 638 games in 1978, receiving the M.B.E for services to football that same year. The Swans were being managed by his former Liverpool team-mate John Toshack at the time and Smith helped Swansea to promotion from the old Third Division. He retired from playing in 1979.

International career[edit]

Smith won ten caps for the England under-23 team, his first coming in a 0–0 draw with Czechoslovakia at Elland Road.[29] He scored two goals, both penalties, against Scotland and Austria.[29] He won just one full cap for England on 19 May 1971, in a 0–0 draw with Wales in a British Home Championship game at Wembley.[30]

Style of play[edit]

Smith used psychological ploys to threaten and intimidate opposition players.[31] That said, he certainly had the respect of his peers, with fellow "hard man" Jack Charlton once saying "Tommy Smith was easily the hardest player I faced. I ran into him once and he knocked every ounce of breath out of me. I tried to get up and look like he hadn't hurt me, but he had."

Manager Bill Shankly once said of him: "Tommy Smith wasn't born, he was quarried".[32]

Later life[edit]

Smith had a brief spell as a youth coach at Liverpool. He wrote a weekly column for the Liverpool Echo for 35 years from 1979 until August 2014.[33] In March 2008, he published his autobiography, Anfield Iron. He bought the lease to The Cavern Club in 1980, but sold it on after a few years of minimal profits.[34]

In 1988, Smith caused controversy after stating that Howard Gayle "suffered from a black man's attitude towards the white man. See, everybody thinks whites have an attitude towards blacks. In reality it's blacks who have a problem with the whites... I used to call Howard the 'White Nigger'. Now that is a compliment. It was the only way I could find to describe that I thought he was OK." Smith then went on to comment to Hill that "I'm not prejudiced but if a coon moved in next door, I'd move, like most white people would. If my daughter came home with a nigger, I'd go mad. But I'm only being truthful and normal."[35] Smith intended to sue Hill, but found he had no grounds to take legal action as Hill had recorded all of Smith's comments on tape during the interview.[36]

In his later years, Smith had a hip replacement operation (both knees and an elbow are made of plastic as well) and also began to suffer from arthritis to the extent that he could not work and often needed a wheelchair or walking stick and had to claim incapacity benefit. Smith had his benefit payments stopped for a short time after he managed to take a penalty on the Wembley pitch at half-time during the 1996 FA Cup Final between Liverpool and Manchester United; he stated that "I couldn't believe they would do that, I was getting money for charity. I only kicked the ball once."[37]

He is also still held in high regard amongst the Kopites as he was voted 25th in the Liverpool Football Club web site poll '100 Players Who Shook The Kop'.

Statistics[edit]

  • Sourced from Tommy Smith profile at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
Club Season Division League FA Cup Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Liverpool 1962–63 First Division 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
1963–64 First Division 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1964–65 First Division 25 4 8 0 7 0 40 4
1965–66 First Division 42 3 1 0 10 1 53 4
1966–67 First Division 42 1 4 0 6 0 51 1
1967–68 First Division 36 3 7 1 8 2 51 6
1968–69 First Division 42 6 4 1 5 0 51 7
1969–70 First Division 36 4 3 0 6 3 45 7
1970–71 First Division 41 2 7 0 13 1 61 3
1971–72 First Division 37 6 3 0 5 0 45 6
1972–73 First Division 33 2 2 0 14 1 49 3
1973–74 First Division 34 1 7 0 8 0 49 1
1974–75 First Division 36 2 0 0 9 1 45 3
1975–76 First Division 24 0 2 0 9 0 35 0
1976–77 First Division 16 0 4 0 8 1 28 1
1977–78 First Division 22 2 0 0 12 0 34 2
Total 467 36 52 2 120 10 639 48
Tampa Bay Rowdies (loan) 1976[38] NASL 17 0 0 0 0 0 17 0
Los Angeles Aztecs 1978[38] NASL 12 0 0 0 0 0 12 0
Swansea City 1978–79 Third Division 36 2 4 0 3 0 43 2
Career Total 532 38 56 2 123 10 711 50

Honours[edit]

Liverpool[39]

References[edit]

Specific
  1. ^ Smith 2008, p. 344
  2. ^ Smith 2008, p. 3
  3. ^ Smith 2008, p. 16
  4. ^ Smith 2008, p. 18
  5. ^ Smith 2008, p. 21
  6. ^ Smith 2008, p. 34
  7. ^ Smith 2008, p. 46
  8. ^ Smith 2008, p. 47
  9. ^ "Tommy Smith". liverpoolfc.com. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  10. ^ Smith 2008, p. 76
  11. ^ Smith 2008, p. 79
  12. ^ Smith 2008, p. 80
  13. ^ Smith 2008, p. 83
  14. ^ Smith 2008, p. 90
  15. ^ Smith 2008, p. 124
  16. ^ Smith 2008, p. 142
  17. ^ Smith 2008, p. 143
  18. ^ Smith 2008, p. 150
  19. ^ Smith 2008, p. 152
  20. ^ Smith 2008, p. 149
  21. ^ Smith 2008, p. 155
  22. ^ Smith 2008, p. 165
  23. ^ Smith 2008, p. 171
  24. ^ Smith 2008, p. 178
  25. ^ Smith 2008, p. 196
  26. ^ "Emlyn Hughes". The Daily Telegraph. London. 10 November 2004. 
  27. ^ "Tommy Smith and friend". St Petersburg Times. 20 August 1976. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  28. ^ Wilson, Paul (23 May 2013). "The great European Cup teams: Liverpool 1977–84". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  29. ^ a b "the under 23's". englandfootballonline.com. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  30. ^ "Home International Championship 1970-71 (76th) Match". englandfootballonline.com. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  31. ^ Smith 2008, p. 40
  32. ^ Gordos, Phil (31 March 2008). "Coping with Cristiano Ronaldo". BBC Sport. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  33. ^ "Anfield Iron Tommy Smith retires as Liverpool Echo columnist after 35 years". Liverpool Echo. 22 August 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  34. ^ Smith 2008, p. 66
  35. ^ Dave Hill (1989), Out of His Skin: The John Barnes Phenomenon, WSC Books (2nd edition, 2001), pp. 134–135 
  36. ^ Dave Hill. "Barnes storm". When Saturday Comes (online edition). Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  37. ^ Moreton, Cole (23 March 2008). "Tommy Smith: Mersey's Man of Iron". The Independent. London. 
  38. ^ a b "NASL Stats". nasljerseys.com. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  39. ^ "Profile". lfchistory.net. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
General