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The complete history of the Mighty Magpies

Fred Smith

Fred Smith


1 CFC Games Played

0 CFC Goals

Date of Birth
30 August 1941
Recruited From
North Reservoir
Collingwood Debut
Round 5, 1961


Few players have experienced greater misfortune in their attempts to forge a senior football career than Fred Smith.

It all started promisingly enough, when Fred came to Victoria Park from North Reservoir and joined the under-19s in 1958. Over the next three seasons he would establish a reputation as one of the best young ruckmen around, achieving the unusual distinction of twice winning the thirds’ best and fairest (firstly in his debut season and again in 1960).

Early in the 1961 season, and still only 19 years old, he was given his first – and what proved to be his only – chance at senior level, debuting against Fitzroy alongside another promising big man in Warren Roper.

Despite his tender years, Smith stood at about 6’4” in the old language and weighed a formidable 14 stone. He was agile, and a wonderful mark, and covered the ground well for a big bloke. He’d played just a handful of reserves games before getting the call-up, and the Magpies had already identified him as a young tall of great promise.

He’d played in the 1961 practice matches, attracting plaudits from the club’s training watchers. “Fred Smith, from our under-19 team, who has grown considerably this year, was a trier all day,” read the club’s report on one of its practice matches. “He had many ruck battles with Graeme Fellowes and Mick Twomey and deserves credit for his performance.”

So there was a bit of a buzz about when both he and Roper debuted on the same day in Round 5. The Age would later say that he had done “reasonably well” on his debut, especially when resting in defence. But he missed the next scheduled training session with a calf niggle, and the one after that with fluid on his knee. The knee problem ended up being way more serious than initially feared, and kept him out for the best part of two months. Then, after just a few weeks back in the reserves, he broke a bone in his ankle at training and missed the rest of the year.

He then decided to cross to Sturt in the SANFL, and he was brilliant in his first season there in 1962, winning selection in both the SA state team and the Adelaide Advertiser’s Team of the Year. He took a staggering 28 marks in one game that year, leading the Advertiser’s experienced sports editor to describe it as the best individual game by a ruckman he had ever seen.

Fred, it appeared, was on the verge of a glorious career.

But he suffered a serious knee injury early in 1963 that forced him to the sidelines for the entire season. Then, when he looked ready to make a comeback in 1964, he was knocked over by a car while crossing a road in Adelaide. He broke his leg, his shoulder and was in hospital for 10 months, eventually missing two seasons of football. He managed to battle his way back into the reserves in 1966 but his leg was still giving him trouble, and although he would manage a season with Mt Gambier as playing coach, his doctors eventually told him he would have to stop playing or risk not being able to walk again.

To rub salt into Fred’s wounds, his injuries could not have come at a worse time, as Sturt embarked on a freakish run of success that saw them win five flags in a row. At the first of those, in 1966, Fred was so shattered at missing out on the game that he took a swing at a bloke in the crowd!

Over time, he found it easier to accept his fate. But those fates had not been kind to Fred Smith. And while Sturt was remarkably successful even without him, there’s no doubt that the SANFL missed a decade or more of a player who could have been one of the dominant ruckmen of the era.

– Michael Roberts


CFC Career Stats

Season played Games Goals Finals Win %
1961 1 0 0 %

CFC Season by Season Stats

Season GP GL B K H T D Guernsey No.
1961 1 0 48

1961 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 5 Fitzroy L 0 48 View match >
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
Totals 1
Avg/Game   0.00
  • GPGames Played
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • TTackles
  • DDisposals

Key Facts

CFC Debut Number


Total AFL Games
CFC Debut
Round 5, 1961
CFC Last Game
Round 5, 1961
Recruited From
North Reservoir
Full Name
Fred Smith


  • x2
    Under-19s Best and Fairest
    1958, 1960
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