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


  • Total voters
    37
  • Poll closed .

Yorkshire Blue

Super Moderator⭐
Staff member
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
35,888
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London
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, 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.
 
Joined
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Dave Smith is a Legend. His admission being up for debate is a travesty!

Who said the age of miracles was past? I agree with you Steve.

As ever a well written piece YB, and IMO based on bringing our first ever silverware Smith should be in the HoF on that achievement alone. And if Otulakowski had been called Clitoris then it would have rolled off the tongue. :)

We had a good rivalry at the time with Watford and generally came out on top in our battles notably the replay at Roots Hall when Andy Polycarpu's goal got us through to play the mighty Liverpool. But also the season before when a Watford v Southend 1-1 draw was the featured game on MOTD, and pictueres of Smith looking like he had St Vitus Dance became part of the MOTD credits the next season.

The 80/81 seaon was an incredible time, and as YB has pointed out the team consisted of some all time favourites. Mervyn Cawston IMO is probably the best permanent keeper we've had, and Alan Moody has already been nominated to the HoF. Local lad Tony Hadley a Blues stalwart, plus another long serving player in former Spurs full back Mickey Stead. Derek Spence had arrived in a swap deal which took Colin Morris to Blackpool and he formed a good pairing with the portly Keith Mercer.

I always thought that Smith wanted his teams to play an open passing game and we generally played attractive football during his time here.

He was shabbily treated in the end by the club when he was unceremoiously sacked while on holiday. There followed a period of uncertainty after his departure and the arrival of Anton Johnson and a succession of crap managers (Webb & Clark apart) until Wbby arrived for his second spell in charge.

It's interesting that I've always argued for stability and I think the length of time Smith was here did certainly bring that both on the managerial & playing side, although as ever with Blues we were a yo yo club.

Definitely in.
 

Suffolk Blue

Manager
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Once again I'm amazed that there are dissenting voices. Dave Smith's team were a great mix of grit, brains, and flair. The man was down to earth; a good communicator (in an age where this was the exception rather than the norm); and a shrewd judge of a player.

A true gent who did a great job for us then quietly went off to the west country (with the fans good wishes) and did another great job with Plymouth.

If I recall correctly, he remained in Plymouth and set up a football skills school for the kids of the area. A great ambassador for the club and the game during his time here.

David Smith's Red, Blue and White Army!!!
 

Sean 2

Director
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wickford e-s-s--e-x!
Southend United legend, not even really worth debating!

To think Dave Smith is up against the likes of Ricky Otto in this legend status this thread brings, quite frankly it's laughable! You could even say the same about Dave Smith and Paul Clark (and i rate Paul as god-like!!)

Dave Smith is a SUFC legend.

Please, there is no debating this one and if you say he's "before your time" then abstain from voting!


Just my opinion like:)
 

Suffolk Blue

Manager
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Sorry TB, we now have two honest to goodness Southend legends (Dave Smith and Paul Clark) who, just because you weren't supporting us at the time, you are deciding don't derserve to be in the HoF.

It's the same as someone who has only been watching us for three or four years saying Webby wan't a legend and worthy inclusion in the HoF.

You can read about these guy's exploits and make a decision, or decide you don't know enough about them to have a view and abstain. But to cast a vote that effectively negates mine while I have knowledge and experience of the guy in question and you don't seems a bit unfair.
 
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In a day when money was tight, players werenot so called legends, this man turned the club around, simply you had to be there to appreciate the talent and dedication of this manager in a different era of football

The man is a GOD !!!!
 

ldnfatso

Red Rep King!
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6,390
Location
Southend
Again before my time so not a legend in my eyes

Bollocks comment Scott!
The club was running for 75 odd years before you came to RH. Does that not count for anything?
The likes of Sid Broomfield, Roy Hollis, Frank Walton, Billy Best, Harry Threadgold, Ron Poutney, Alan Moody, Derek Spence, Dave Smith etc were all before your time. Surely their achievements must be recognized, even in your eyes! After all, the club has not been running for only the 25 years you might have been following The Blues.
 

BrettieAngell

THE ROCK GOD
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Its like a Liverpool fan saying that Shankly isn't a legend because he was around before his time, ridiculous.
 
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Again before my time so not a legend in my eyes

Sorry Scott but I think you are wrong, I never knew Oliver Trigg although many think I am old enough, but his contribution to the founding of our club makes him a definite for the HoF. Similarly with Sid Broomfield.

Just because you didn't see his teams or an individual player does not make that person any less worthy. Or for further verification check the various history's of our club or the SUFC Database.
 

OldBlueLady

Junior Blues Coordinator⭐
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Dave Smith = legend. Simple, after the end of Rowley's days, when we'd became a little staid and boring, along came Smithy with a completely different and much more exciting style of play. Almost "sexy" football - and some cracking players as well, wee Davie Cunningham, Poly, Steve Yates, Stuart and Derrick Parker, Silvo, Terry Nicholl, big Merv, Micky Stead - could go on. Accolades, trophies and suddenly lots of tv appearances as I remember.

Oh yes, and also for introducing the forerunner of Meet the Blues Day! ;)
 

Gt Yarmouth Shrimper

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Messages
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Dave Smith = legend. Simple, after the end of Rowley's days, when we'd became a little staid and boring, along came Smithy with a completely different and much more exciting style of play. Almost "sexy" football - and some cracking players as well, wee Davie Cunningham, Poly, Steve Yates, Stuart and Derrick Parker, Silvo, Terry Nicholl, big Merv, Micky Stead - could go on. Accolades, trophies and suddenly lots of tv appearances as I remember.

Oh yes, and also for introducing the forerunner of Meet the Blues Day! ;)

I'll concur with that
The bald one, definately in
 
Last edited by a moderator:
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Shameless bump.

shameless460.jpg
 

Billy Bests boot laces

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A true gent who did a great job for us then quietly went off to the west country (with the fans good wishes) and did another great job with Plymouth.

If I recall correctly, he remained in Plymouth and set up a football skills school for the kids of the area. A great ambassador for the club and the game during his time here.

David Smith's Red, Blue and White Army!!!

And before he came here he got mansfield promoted from the 4th to the 2nd division. Seem to recall we appointed him after he left them following a fall out with the board.
 
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