Josh Smith is carrying on a tradition that stretches back to Collingwood’s very first game 124 years ago.
No other surname in the history of the club has had as many players wear the black and white jumper, with a total of 12 Smiths representing Collingwood in a senior game.
Make that 13 if you include Hector Lingwood-Smith, who played a solitary game for the club in 1922.
The earliest was Archie Smith, a forward who played in the Magpies’ first match against the Blues on May 7, 1892, and the club’s earliest sharpshooter at a time when goals were at a premium.
Here is a snapshot of the Smiths to have played for the Magpies since 1892.
ARCHIE SMITH (1892-1902)
176 games, 205 goals (VFA and VFL)
The first in a long line of star Collingwood forwards, Archie Smith won or shared the club’s leading goal kicking seven times in Collingwood’s first nine years. Known as ‘Snapper’, for his uncanny ability to slot goals from acute angles, Smith averaged more than a goal a game, a significant feat for the era. He played in Collingwood’s inaugural game, named in the forward pocket, alongside full-forward Alf Toll, who kicked the first goal.
He played 87 games and kicked 86 goals in the Magpies’ five VFA seasons, which deserves acknowledgement alongside his 89 games and 119 goals during six seasons in the VFL.
In 1895, The Australasian said: “Smith would be invaluable in any team for he not only kicks goals but works like a tiger, and is never beaten. No more determined or aggressive little battler in any team.”
At times he was accused of concentrating more on the man than on the ball, but his ability to score goals from all angles made him a dangerous player for opposition sides.
He was the VFL’s leading goal kicker in 1898 (with 31 goals); and he twice kicked five goals in VFL matches.
Smith’s last game came in Round 9, 1902, closing out a decade of great service to Collingwood, which was acknowledged when he was awarded life membership two years later.
BASIL SMITH (1921)
1 game, 0 goals
Basil Smith was a product of Warrnambool Technical School, where he played with St Kilda’s first Brownlow Medallist Colin Watson.
He was recruited to Collingwood from his home town of Warrnambool, and got his chance to play his one game in black and white in Round 18, 1921.
The 19-year-old was named in the forward pocket to take on Carlton at Victoria Park, a game in which Con McCarthy played his 100th VFL match.
The Magpies lost the final round game, and Smith was overlooked in the finals.
He was later described as “a powerful kick”. He would go on to play six games with South Melbourne in 1922, 10 games with Richmond in 1924, and would later coach in Albury.
CLYDE SMITH (1922)
6 games, 0 goals
Clyde Smith‘s time at Victoria Park was brief. Sadly, so too was his life.
Smith made his debut on the same day as Collingwood champion Syd Coventry. But after playing in four of the first five games in 1922, and then some reserves games, he left to play alongside Bill Twomey at Stawell.
But The Australasian detailed the reason for his comeback in two games late in the same season: “Collingwood, in their extremity owing to illness, accident and other disasters, tried the Magpies from the country swooping back to the nest at Victoria Park… Twomey and Clyde Smith, having finished their engagements at Stawell.”
Smith left Collingwood to take on a coaching job with Cobram, and on a trip to Melbourne the following year, it was said that his team defeated a VFL club in a practice match.
During his career, he also played with Port Melbourne, coached Koroit, Allansford and Rochester (the home town of his wife), and he also competed in the Stawell Gift.
Perhaps that’s the reason why he went to join Twomey at Stawell for a period during 1922.
In 1924 Smith even led a Bendigo league team that took on and beat a touring VFL side.
A rare profile on him in The Weekly Times in 1923 described him as “a fine specimen of physical development … Smith is a fine mark, a good kick and has plenty of pace.”
Off the field, he was a Victorian policeman. Tragically, the father of five was only 23 days short of his 34th birthday when he was shot and killed while on duty on January 5, 1935.
He had been accidentally killed by a colleague, leaving behind a heartbroken family. Three of his sons would become policeman.
HECTOR LINGWOOD-SMITH (1922-23)
13 games, 1 goal
Hector Lingwood-Smith had already played two years with South Adelaide and a season with Sturt when he arrived at Victoria Park in 1922.
He kicked a goal in his first game with the Magpies in a Round 11 game against South Melbourne. It was one of three games he would play in that first season, and he managed a further 10 the following year.
He moved to Tasmania in 1924, where he coached Lefroy and later Newtown. He returned to South Adelaide for three more seasons from 1926-28.
When his playing career ended, he became a member of the South Australian umpires advisory board and later umpires coach in the South Australian Football League.
It led to stint as the VFA’s umpires coach. He would also be secretary of the Richmond Football Club for one season in 1955.
THE SMITH SIBLINGS
RON SMITH (1941-43, 1945-47)
48 games, 1 goal
STAN SMITH (1947-50)
46 games, 25 goals
Few clubs can boast the tradition of siblings playing for the one club that Collingwood can.
The Smith brothers, Ron and Stan, played a total of 94 games, but only three of them were as teammates in the senior team in 1947.
Their family originally came from the Mallee, but a move to inner-suburban Melbourne brought them both to the Collingwood Football Club at different stages.
Ron was recruited from Abbotsford and debuted for the club as a 23-year-old after impressing in the seconds side. He was described as “a sturdy half-back” who alternated between the seniors and the reserves.
He played 48 games, with his most in a season being 13 in 1941. He accompanied the team on their trip to Western Australian in 1946, and played his last game in Round 16, 1947.
Stan, from the Collingwood Juniors, broke into the senior team in 1947, but he maintained it would have been sooner other than the fact that Collingwood had already organised its squad to tour WA in 1946.
Jock McHale had been impressed with the younger Smith sibling during the 1946 season, but was told he could not play him in the seniors, because it would have meant “another blazer” for the Perth trip.
Instead, he made his debut in Round 3, 1947, as Collingwood’s 500th player, against Geelong, and the half-forward-wingman kicked two goals on debut.
In his 10th game, he kicked four goals against Hawthorn, at Victoria Park, and an elderly gentleman came up to him in the rooms after the game and shook his hand.
Before he went into the showers, Smith realised he had 10 pounds in his grasp. The fan was club benefactor and businessman John Wren.
Smith recalled in an interview more than six decades later: “I didn’t know who John Wren was, he came in and shook my hands and he gave me 10 pounds … to me, it was like it was a thousand pounds.”
He played in Collingwood’s winning 1947 first semi-final against Footscray, and the week later, when the team lost to Melbourne in the preliminary final.
He also played in the first semi-final loss to Essendon in 1949, which was Jock McHale’s last game as coach. “Old Jock’s speeches made you tingle,” Smith recalled. “It was more or less about keeping the tradition.”
Smith played his 46th and final game in 1950, but continued to play in the reserves hoping for a senior call-up, as he desperately wanted a five-year certificate. Sadly, it never came.
DOUG SMITH (1943)
2 games, 0 goals
Doug Smith was almost the accidental Magpie. Originally from Scottsdale in Tasmania, the only reason he got to play two games with Collingwood in 1943 was that he was on leave from Flinders Navy Depot at the time.
He was 21 when he made his debut, against North Melbourne, in Round 1, 1943. Ron Smith, no relation, was playing his 24th game that day.
Smith was not selected the following week, but was back for his second and final VFL game, against Footscray, at Victoria Park, in Round 3.
The following month, he was granted leave home to Tasmania, and the North Eastern Advertiser detailed: “Doug Smith, an old scholar, (is) now in the Navy. Doug has certainly developed into a splendid type of Australian and is a first class footballer, having played with the famous Collingwood team.” He never played another senior game for Collingwood.
LES SMITH (1952, 1954)
5 games, 0 goals
Five games; two finals; and a Grand Final … Les Smith had an eventful few seasons at Collingwood.
Having won the club’s under 19s best and fairest in 1951, the local recruit worked his way through the ranks and became a bolter in the Magpies’ senior team towards the end of the 1952 season.
The half-back made his debut in Round 18 against Footscray. He was recalled for the preliminary final against Fitzroy, and coach Phonse Kyne kept his faith in the 18-year-old in the Grand Final.
Smith’s selection in the 1952 Grand Final to take on Geelong was a surprise, but not half as much as Kyne naming 21-year-old Keith Batchelor for his first game in a premiership decider.
Kyne said in the lead-up to the game: “Les Smith, our new half-back flanker, has youth, pace and tenacity – all essentials in a Grand Final. He should fit smoothly into our defence.”
Leo Turner was his opponent in the game, and although Collingwood lost the match, The Argus noted that Turner “was less (than) notable on Smith.
The young Collingwood defender did not play a senior game in 1953, but returned for two more matches the following season.
FRED SMITH (1961)
1 game, 0 goals
Fred Smith was a graduate from the club’s under 19s side, having won the best and fairest in the “thirds” twice (in 1958 and 1960).
Originally recruited from North Reservoir, nineteen-year-old Smith made his debut in Round 5, 1961.
The Magpies lost easily to Fitzroy, and it would prove to be the 194cm player’s one and only senior game for the club.
ANDREW SMITH (1980-84)
35 games, 8 goals
A recruit from Watsonia, in Collingwood’s Diamond Valley heartland, Smith first came to notice when he won the Magpies’ under 19s best-and-fairest award in 1979.
A year later, the half-back, who came to be known by his nickname ‘Pud’, made his debut against Melbourne, in Round 10, 1980.
Smith’s form was so impressive the following year that he not only broke back into the senior team, he stayed in the side during the early part of the finals series.
But in the first semi-final against Fitzroy, Smith hurt his shoulder and it would cost him a chance to play in the Grand Final that season.
He played 11 matches in Collingwood’s frustrating 1982 season.
However, he suffered a broken jaw and lost several teeth in a behind play incident against Footscray in a bushfire charity match in February 1983, a fundraiser game for the Ash Wednesday disaster.
He would later sue the player and win an out of court settlement, but the incident hindered his career.
Smith played three more games in 1983 for Collingwood and a further two the following year, before shifting to Sydney and playing four games with the Swans in 1985.
He would explain later the impact the shattered jaw had on his career with the Magpies. “The couple of years after the injury were lean ones for me,” he said.
GREG SMITH (1985-86)
31 games, 7 goals
Greg Smith became known as ‘the Bionic Man’ in almost 100 games with Sydney, thanks to his capacity to play on through injury.
The tough onballer transferred to Collingwood in 1985, and his first game in black and white was a memorable one – the first Friday night match at the MCG.
The Magpies won the game against North Melbourne, and it was the first of 18 games he would play for the club that season.
He would play another 13 the following season, which proved to be his last at the club, as he was delisted before the 1987 season.
BRADLEY SMITH (2000)
1 game, 0 goals
Big ruckman Bradley Smith only had one chance to impress at AFL level, but unfortunately it came up against in-form Geelong giant Steven King.
He had worked so hard for that debut game that it seemed cruel that it ended so quickly for the one-time Claremont and Richmond reserves ruckman.
Smith’s one game came in Round 12, 2000, and he was elevated into the team to help first-year Magpie Josh Fraser take on King. But it didn’t work out.
King was the match winner. And Smith “surrendered an undisciplined free kick downfield” midway through the last term which resulted in a critical goal.
Coach Mick Malthouse knew he was asking a fair amount of his rookie ruckmen, but admitted King had “shown the gap between our ruck and the opposition.”
Sadly, Smith wouldn’t get another chance and was delisted at the end of the 2000 season.
JOSH SMITH (2016)
8 games, 1 goal
Josh Smith has provided Collingwood fans with a legitimate feel-good story in what has been an otherwise difficult season for the club.
He had been overlooked in four drafts, but the Queenslander never gave up.
When Collingwood finally rookie-listed him after a strong season with Redlands (the same club Adam Oxley and Josh Thomas came from), he resolved to take the opportunity presented to him.
He showed good form early in his NAB Cup debut against Geelong, but suffered an ankle injury during the course of the game.
He worked hard to overcome his injury, and got the chance to make his long-awaited AFL debut in front of a big crowd on Anzac Day.
Never mind the fact that he copped a corked hip in the opening five minutes, he kept on going, ending up with 25 disposals and four tackles on what was a memorable day for the 22-year-old.
It was a sign that there was plenty more in store in regard to Smith’s future.