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Is Dave Smith one of the greatest 12 figures in SUFC history?


  • Total voters
    41
  • Poll closed .

Yorkshire Blue

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
35,207
Location
London
Up for election to the SZ Southend United Hall of Fame is manager Dave Smith.

Smith came incredibly close last time, missing out by just 0.26%. Will he fare better at his second attempt? Here's what I wrote last time:

----------------------------------------------------
This poll is really a week or so too early.

The date of this poll should be 01 May, because that is the date for which Dave Smith will forever be associated with the club, for it was on 01 May 1981 that his side claimed the club's first major trophy* with a 1-1 draw against Rochdale.

Dave Smith had been appointed manager 5 years earlier, following Arthur Rowley's side relegation back to the 4th. Smith wasn't the only name linked with the job, things might have turned out quite different if the young Lincoln City boss, Graham Taylor, who had been heavily linked had actually been appointed. In the end the club opted for Dave Smith, whilst Rowley was kept on on a consultancy basis.

With a young Paul Clark (Hall of Fame vote is still open and is the tightest one to date) breaking into the side alongside Hall of Famers Alan Moody and Ronnie Pountney, Southend set a club record by conceding just 45 goals. But this was an era, perhaps the first, when the club lacked a goalscorer to capitalise on the platform provided by the defence and the club drew a record 19 games. This was despite Smith favouring wingers and bringing in players with the flair of Colin Morris and Andy Polycarpou.

Smith's second season saw the attacking woes addressed and with the defence going 6 goals better, we achieved our second ever promotion, finishing second.

The following year saw Smith sign the likes of Mervyn Cawston (to replace Neil Freeman who was sold to Birmingham), club record signing Dave Cusack, Micky Stead and Anton Otulakowski but a poor end to the season saw them finish 13th in the third division. However this season is best remembered for holding European Champions Liverpool, one of the greatest sides ever, to a 0-0 draw at Roots Hall, and had Derrick Parker......

The following season also saw some cup heroics, this time in the league cup, beating first division Bolton and taking local rivals Wet Sham to a second replay. Not so impressive was our league form, and finishing 22nd was not enough to halt the yo-yo years. An under pressure Dave Smith avoided the sack, with his assistant John Lattimer becoming the fall guy, but was left in no doubt that this was not good enough by chairman Frank Walton.

Like in 1988/89, relegation proved to be a springboard to success. Southend got off to a blistering start, especially at home, where we won the opening 15 home games. As ever in the Smith era, defence was key to this, with the ever present Mervyn Cawston letting in an incredible six goals only at home all season (a 4th division record). At one stage Cawston went a staggering 987 minutes without conceding.

That season no fewer than 20 club records were shattered, including most wins in a season (30), fewest goals against (31) and most clean sheets (25). Dave Smith was understandably declared 4th division Manager of the Year.

The team of Cawston, Stead, Yates, Hadley, Moody, Cusack, Gray, Pountney, Spence, Mercer and Otulakowski must go down as one of Southend's finest. I'd like to say that team rolls off the tongue, like the 1990-91 team**, but (1) I was too young and so have only read about them; and (2) no team containing Otulakowski can be said to roll off the tongue. However as a kid I was more than aware that when a publication such as the Rothman's Football Handbook listed honours it said Honours (1): 4th Division Champions 1980/81. Of course now Southend's diamond jubilee success of 1980-81 has been matched by its centenary success in 2005-06, but it speaks volumes that only one other season out of a hundred (and counting) can live up to that one under Dave Smith.

The next season Smith's team showed it was no fluke by achieving the club's highest league position since 1957/58, by finishing 7th in division 3. In a wide open division, Southend were in 3rd place over New Year and tenth in April, but only 8 points behind. In the first season of 3 points for a win, Southend chose a bad year to pick up 15 draws.

The 1982/83 season was blighted by poor attendances and Smith was forced to sell Cusack and Otulakowski to Millwall. When Southend finished a disappointing 15th fans chanted for his resignation. Not for the first time however, fans should have been wary of what they wished for. Anton Johnson took the club over and in an attempt to mark his stamp on it, he sacked Smith whilst Smith was still on holiday in Tenerife, appointing Crewe's Peter Morris in his place. The extrovert Smith returned from holiday and held a sit-in in his old office until he was awarded compensation. Morris and then Bobby Moore were to preside over a disastrous period, although this may well have reflected more on the club's ownership than its management as the club flirted with bankruptcy.

In all Dave Smith was in charge of 322 games, which Southend won 132. Of Southend managers in charge of more than 30 games, only Dave Webb won a higher percentage (57.99%) than Dave Smith's 54.97% *** Dave Webb has already been elected, should Dave Smith join him?

Dave Smith, Southend United manager May 1976- June 1983

Pl 322 W 132 D 90 L 100 F 430 A 338 Pts 387

Promotions (2): 1977-78 and 1980-81
Relegations (1): 1979-80

Honours: Division 4 Champions, 1980-81; 4th Division Manager of the Year, 1980-81


*We did actually win the Southern League Division 2 in both 1906/07 and 1907/08, but I'd be hard-pushed to describe a non-league trophy as major, it would make me sound like a deluded Col Ewe fan.
**Sansome, Austin, Powell, Martin, Prior/Scully, Tilson, Clark, Butler, Ansah, Benjamin and Angell
*** Potted Shrimps by Dave Goody and Peter Miles. I think Tilly has probably a better record than this as well, but as he's Southend managerial career has hopefully several decades left to run and I don't have the stats for him to hand, we'll leave him out of this. I don't think those stats include Webb III either.
 
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