bobby smith : powerhouse striker

 

First featured in MEHSTG Vol.2 Issue 15 - August 2000

While Spurs have been chasing strikers this summer, how we would love to sign Bobby Smith now.  Although he was a striker from another era, Bobby had so many good qualities.  He chased everything, he was a powerful striker, good in the air and neat on the ground.  As a good team player, Smith never gave up and by taking his markers with him, he brought others into play, for example, Les Allen and Jimmy Greaves.

Bobby Smith was signed from Chelsea in 1955 and was the sensational old-style centre-forward who was the top scorer for Spurs in the Double season with 28 goals in the League.  He made his mark for Spurs before this with a great return of 36 goals from 38 League games in the season 1957-58 and in Bill Nicholson's first game as manager on 11th October 1958, Bobby scored four goals in the 10-4 home win over Everton and went on to score 32 in the League that season.

Smith led the forward line well, leading by example, often having great battles with opposing centre-halves, not to mention huge exchanges with opposing goalkeepers who often found themselves being shoulder-charged into the net.  He struck fear into many foreign goalkeepers who lost their confidence against his physical challenges.  Bobby thrived on good crosses and he got them delivered from Cliff Jones, Terry Dyson and Terry Medwin in the 1960-61 wonderful double season when he was also England's centre-forward.  Amazingly during that season, he suffered a barren patch and there was much debate as to whether he should lead the line for England.  Thankfully, he rediscovered his goal scoring touch and finished the season well with one of the goals for Spurs in the FA Cup Final win over Leicester.  It was remarkable that he played in that game as he hid a leg injury from Bill Nicholson and he sneaked out of the team's hotel to have injections from his own doctor In Palmer's Green.  How many players could get away with that now ?  He won another FA Cup winners' medal in 1961-62 and he again scored in the final win over Burnley and he led the line well in Spurs' European campaigns of 1961-2 and 1962-63 when he won a European Cup Winners' Cup winners' medal.

Bobby suffered some bad injuries, which was not surprising when we consider the huge physical side to his game.  He went into challenges with no holds barred and played in many games with knocks.  There was a true will to win attitude and his enthusiasm helped him to play in games when he should not have been playing.  He was popular with his teammates and Jimmy Greaves had three prolific seasons playing alongside Bobby.  Bobby himself was not as prolific after the double in terms of goal-scoring and he only managed six goals from 28 League games in 1961-62 and 8 League goals from 15 games the following season.  His final season for Spurs saw a good return of 13 League goals from 26 games and he was later sold to Brighton. 

Bobby was a real battler who never gave up and he was hugely popular with his team mates and with the fans.  Both powerful in the air and strong on the ground, Bobby would be invaluable today. His spirit, his will to win, his sheer strength were wonderful assets and he was a great target man.  I can think of no striker today who had all his qualities and he is a true Spurs legend.

RICHARD PORTER

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