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Obituary: Bobby Smith

Posted on 20 September 2010  - 12:00

The life and footballing times of legendary striker Bobby Smith, who sadly passed away on Saturday.

Obituary: Bobby Smith

Bobby Smith stands second in our all-time list of goalscorers, only surpassed by his great friend and team mate Jimmy Greaves.

His tally of 208 goals in 317 matches was amassed during the glory years from 1955 until 1964, leading our goals chart with 33 during the Double campaign.

Born at Scarth Street, Lingdale, Yorkshire on February 22, 1933, Robert Alfred Smith attended Lingdale Council School. On leaving school he joined his father working in the local ironstone mine.

Bobby originally played as a full back for Redcar Albion and Redcar Boy's Club before being spotted as a centre forward by Chelsea, signed amateur forms and was placed with their local nursery club Tudor Rose.

After a year working in the mine he joined the Chelsea groundstaff during 1948. Bobby scored a hat-trick in the 1949-50 London FA Youth Cup Final against Spurs at Stamford Bridge and travelled with the England squad to Vienna for the International Youth Tournament there during May, 1950.

Having signed professional forms during May, 1950, Bobby made his Football League debut at Bolton Wanderers on September 4, 1950 and was on the scoresheet on his second senior appearance, a 2-0 home win over Fulham on December 9.

By the time he arrived at Tottenham for a £16,000 fee on December 21, 1955 he had scored 30 goals in 86 games for Chelsea, missing out on their 1954-55 League Championship success with only four senior games that season.

Bobby made his Spurs debut against Luton Town three days later but had to wait until January 21 to net his first goal in our colours, at home to Everton. Handed the captain's role for the final game of the season, he celebrated with a hat-trick versus Sheffield United on April 28. Two years later he became our regular skipper until Danny Blanchflower succeeded him during March, 1959.

His 36 goal haul during season 1957-58 saw Bobby head the top flight scoring chart and equalled the club record set by Ted Harper back in the 1930-31 Second Division campaign. That record stood until Greaves surpassed them both scoring 37 during 1962-63. Bobby and Jimmy each scored 32 goals during 1958-59 to share the title as leading First Division goalscorer.

Bobby became our record aggregate League goalscorer with the second of his three goals in a 3-1 home win over Blackpool on August 31, 1960. George Hunt had held the record of 125 League goals since March, 1937. Bobby's final tally of 176 League goals in 271 appearances remained the club record until Greaves overtook him during March, 1968.

Bobby's 208 goals for Spurs came against 39 different clubs. He scored 17 versus West Bromwich Albion, 12 apiece versus Blackpool and Wolves and 11 versus Aston Villa, Bolton, Everton and Manchester United.
Bobby notched 11 hat-tricks during his time with us. Ten came in First Division matches with the exception being his four goal haul against Crewe Alexandra in an FA Cup fourth round replay.

Some reports credited him with five goals in a 6-2 home win against Aston Villa on March 29, 1958, but his tally that day was only four with Terry Medwin apologising for getting the final touch on the first goal!
During March and May, 1958 Bobby featured in the inaugural Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final, playing for London against Barcelona in both legs of the deciding tie.

Bobby's England career spanned three years and 43 days, gaining 15 Full caps and netting 13 goals. He scored in each of his first five internationals and was on the winning side in his first five and last five games. First selected by England for the 1958 World Cup squad, he took just 16 minutes to score the opening goal on his debut, in a 5-2 win over Northern Ireland at Belfast on October 8, 1960.

He was on target in both of our 1961 and 1962 FA Cup triumphs and was also a member of the European Cup-Winners' Cup winning side the following year.

Bobby joined Brighton & Hove Albion on May 19, 1964 for a £5,000 fee and helped them to the Fourth Division title the following season. His career tally of Football League goals was 218 in 376 appearances, plus a further 41 goals in 61 cup matches.

On leaving Brighton during October, 1965 Bobby joined Hastings United. He had a trial spell with Orient during March, 1967 and a stint with Banbury United the following year.

He turned out regularly in charity games during the 1970's for the Television & Sporting Personalities XI and the Top Ten XI, playing alongside the likes of Rod Stewart, Tommy Steele, Bill Oddie and David Hamilton.

Bobby was the subject of three testimonial events; matches at Edgware Town on October 13, 1968 and at Edmonton & Haringey on December 16, 1973; plus a dinner at the Starlight Suite, Enfield on October 31, 1996.

He was also the subject of two books; The Bobby Smith Story in Pictures, published by Brighton & Hove Albion during 1965; and My Memories of Spurs, published by Britespot during 2002.

Having lived at nearby Palmers Green, Bobby was a welcome and regular visitor at our home games over the years.

He passed away at an Enfield hospital following a short illness on September 18, aged 77.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.

With thanks to Club Historian, Andy Porter...