Joe Smith (football forward, born 1889)

Joe Smith
Personal information
Full name Joseph Smith
Date of birth (1889-06-25)25 June 1889
Place of birth Dudley, England
Date of death 11 August 1971(1971-08-11) (aged 82)
Place of death Blackpool, England
Playing position Forward
Youth career
Crewe Alexandra
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1908–1927 Bolton Wanderers 449 (254)
1927–1929 Stockport County 70 (61)
1929–1931 Darwen (player-manager) 51 (42)
Total 570 (357)
National team
1913–1920 England 5 (1)
Teams managed
1929–1931 Darwen (player-manager)
1931–1935 Reading
1935–1958 Blackpool

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Joseph "Joe" Smith (25 June 1889 – 11 August 1971) was an English professional football player and manager. He is tenth in the list of England's top-flight goal scorers with 243 league goals to his name. He was manager of Blackpool for 23 years and guided them to victory in the 1953 FA Cup Final, the only time they have won the competition since their 1887 inception.

A forward, he began his career at Crewe Alexandra, but did not play a first team game for the club. He instead made his name at Bolton Wanderers, where with 277 league and cup goals between 1908 and 1927, he is the club's second highest goalscorer, only eight behind Nat Lofthouse. He won the Second Division title with Bolton 1908–09, and played in FA Cup final victories in 1923 and 1926. He later hit 61 goals in 70 league games for Stockport County, before being appointed player-manager at Darwen in 1929. Two years later he was appointed manager of Reading, and narrowly missed out on promotion during his four seasons in charge. He became Blackpool manager in August 1935, and remained in this position until April 1958. He led the "Seasiders" to one victory in three FA Cup final appearances (1948, 1951, and 1953), and also led the club to runners-up spot in the Second Division in 1936–37, second place in the First Division in 1955–56, and runners-up in the 1953 FA Charity Shield.

Club career

Born in Dudley in the West Midlands, after leaving Crewe Alexandra Smith spent almost his entire playing career with Bolton Wanderers, for whom he signed in 1908, either as an inside or centre-forward. Wanderers won the Second Division title in 1908–09, but were immediately relegated out of the First Division in 1909–10. They regained their top-flight status after securing a second-place finish in the Second Division in 1910–11. Smith then became the club's top-scorer in 1911–12 with 24 goals, as Bolton posted a fourth-place finish, six points behind champions Blackburn Rovers. He scored 22 goals in 1912–13, as Bolton dropped to eighth position. George Lillycrop then became the club's leading scorer in 1913–14, before Smith finished as the club's top-scorer for the third time in four seasons with 36 goals in 1914–15. During World War I he guested for Chelsea and Port Vale.[1]

After the war, Bolton finished sixth in 1919–20. With the help of "Trotters" teammate Ted Vizard, during the 1920–21 season Smith scored a club record 38 goals, which put him top of the First Division goalscoring chart for that season; the club recorded a third-place finish. However Bolton dropped to sixth position again in 1921–22. Smith recorded 19 goals in 1922–23 to become the club's top-scorer for the fifth time. His goals helped Bolton to reach the 1923 FA Cup Final – the first FA Cup final to be held at Wembley. Smith captained Bolton to a 2–0 victory over West Ham United. David Jack then took the mantle as the club's main source of goals in 1923–24 and 1924–25, as Bolton posted two top four finishes in succession. Smith scored 21 goals in 1925–26 to finish as the club's top-scorer for the sixth and final time. He also captained the club to another FA Cup final victory, as a goal from namesake Jack Smith was enough to beat Manchester City 1–0. The 1926–27 season was then his last at the club, as he led Bolton to fourth in the league, eight points behind leaders Newcastle United. In his nineteen years with Bolton, Smith scored 277 goals in 492 games (his league record being 254 goals in 449 appearances).[2]

Upon leaving Wanderers in 1927, Smith signed for Stockport County and went on to score 61 goals in 70 league games at Edgeley Park. With 38 Third Division North goals in 1927–28, he was the division's top-scorer that season, though the "Hatters" could only manage a third-place finish. County then finished second in 1928–29, just one point behind champions Bradford City. Smith went on to play for Darwen and Manchester Central, before finishing his playing career with Hyde United.[2]

International career

The first of Smith's five England caps came on 15 February 1913, in a 2–1 defeat to Ireland at Belfast's Windsor Park in the Home Championship.[3] He then scored the opening goal of a 2–0 win over Wales at Ninian Park on 16 March 1914.[4] He then played England's next three games either side of World War I: a 3–1 defeat to Scotland at Hampden Park (14 April 1914), a 1–1 draw with Ireland at Windsor Park (25 October 1919), and a 2–1 defeat to Wales at Highbury (15 March 1920).[5][6][7]

Managerial career


In 1929, Smith became player-manager of Darwen. As a player, he scored 42 goals in 51 games. As manager, he guided them to wins in the Lancashire Combination Championship (twice), the Combination Cup (twice), the Lancashire Junior Cup, and the Lancashire Challenge Trophy.


Upon hanging up his playing boots in 1931, Smith became manager of Reading. In each of his four seasons at Elm Park, he took the club to within a few places of promotion out of the Third Division South. He led the "Biscuitmen" as they were then known to a second-place finish in 1931–32 – two points behind champions Fulham, a fourth-place finish in 1932–33 – 11 points behind leaders Brentford, third in 1933–34 – seven points short of Norwich City, and second in 1934–35 – eight points behind promoted Charlton Athletic.

His success was due mostly to his phenomenal home record. In 84 matches at Elm Park he won 66 and lost only 3, scoring an average of three goals per game, and steering the club on a 55-game unbeaten home run that lasted from April 1933 until after he left in 1935.[8]


Blackpool's finishing positions in the Football League under Smith.

In August 1935, Smith was approached to become the new manager of Blackpool, in place of the departed Sandy MacFarlane, an offer he immediately accepted; a love of the seaside apparently being one of the main deciding factors. After a tenth-place finish in 1935–36, he led the club to promotion in 1936–37 with a second-place finish in the Second Division. He then secured the club's First Division status with mid-table finishes in 1937–38 and 1938–39. On 10 March 1939, Smith and club director Albert Hindley made the football headlines when they completed the £10,000 record signing of Jock Dodds from Sheffield United.[9] However World War II ensured that Smith's big signing barely featured in the Football League, though he went on to score well over 200 goals at Bloomfield Road during the war.

After the war, Smith built a formidable "M" forward line of Stan Mortensen, Stanley Matthews and Jackie Mudie. Mortensen and Mudie began their professional careers at the club, whilst Smith signed Matthews from Stoke City for a £11,500 fee in May 1947. Other key signings Smith made during his time at the club include: defender Danny Blair (joined from Aston Villa in 1936), George Farrow (defender signed from Bournemouth for £1,250 in 1936), Scotland winger Alex Munro (signed from Hearts in March 1937 for £3,500), inside-forward Willie Buchan (signed from Celtic for £10,000), defender Eric Hayward (free signing from Port Vale in May 1937), Eddie Shimwell (signed from Sheffield United for £7,000 in December 1946), full-back Jackie Wright (signed from Mossley), goalkeeper George Farm (joined on a free transfer from Hibernian), midfielder Allan Brown (signed from East Fife in December 1950), forward Ernie Taylor (signed from Newcastle United for £25,000 in October 1951), defender Jimmy Kelly (signed from Watford in October 1954 for £15,000), and striker Ray Charnley (signed from Morecambe for a £750 fee in May 1957). A number of significant players also began their professional careers under Smith, including: Barrie Martin, Ron Suart, Ewan Fenton, Tommy Garrett, Bill Perry, Dave Durie, Roy Gratrix, Brian Peterson, Hughie Kelly, and Jimmy Armfield. Though he was at Bloomfield Road before Smith, after the war defender Harry Johnston went on to win caps for England whilst at Blackpool.

Blackpool finished fifth in the league in 1946–47, just seven points behind champions Liverpool. The next season, 1947–48, they reached the FA Cup final at Wembley, which ended in a 4–2 defeat to Manchester United. The "Seasiders" dropped to 16th place in 1948–49, but rose to seventh in 1949–50, just four points behind champions Portsmouth. Though they finished in third place in 1950–51, they ended the campaign ten points behind champions Tottenham Hotspur. Smith led the club to another FA Cup final in 1951, where they were beaten 2–0 by Newcastle United after a brace from Jackie Milburn. Blackpool could only finished ninth and seventh in 1951–52 and 1952–53, but reached another FA Cup final in 1953. Known as the "Matthews Final", Stan Mortensen scored a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers to secure Blackpool a 4–3 victory and their first ever FA Cup title. The club finished sixth in the league in 1953–54 and then dropped down to 19th place in 1954–55. Smith then led the club to a record high league finish of second in 1955–56, though they ended up some 11 points short of champions Manchester United. They finished fourth in 1956–57 and seventh in 1957–58. After 714 Football League games in charge of Blackpool, Smith resigned in 1958, at the age of 68, due to poor health. The Blackpool board rewarded his services by giving him a hefty "golden handshake" and bought him a house in the town.


Playing statistics

Club Season Division League FA Cup Total
Bolton Wanderers 1908–09 Second Division 100010
1909–10 First Division 600060
1910–11 Second Division 3211103311
1911–12 First Division 3722324024
1912–13 First Division 3322103422
1913–14 First Division 3517343821
1914–15 First Division 3829734532
1919–20 First Division 2718102818
1920–21 First Division 4138104238
1921–22 First Division 3918204118
1922–23 First Division 3717724419
1923–24 First Division 3916304216
1924–25 First Division 3624323926
1925–26 First Division 3615864421
1926–27 First Division 12730157
Total 4492544323492277
Stockport County 1926–27 Third Division North 840084
1927–28 Third Division North 4038224240
1928–29 Third Division North 2219102319
Total 7061327363
Career Total 5193154325565340

Managerial statistics

Team From To Record
Reading 1 July 1931 1 August 1935 184 92 43 49 50.00
Blackpool 1 August 1935 30 April 1958 688 299 157 232 43.46
Total 872 391 200 281 44.84


As Player

Bolton Wanderers

Stockport County


As Manager



  1. Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. p. 272. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0.
  2. 1 2 Joyce, Michael (2004). Football League Players' Records 1888–1939. ISBN 1-899468-67-6.
  3. "Match No. 114 – Saturday, 15th February 1913". Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  4. "Match No. 118 – Monday, 16th March 1914". Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  5. "Match No. 119 – Tuesday, 14th April 1914". Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  6. "Match No. 120 – Saturday, 25th October 1919". Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  7. "Match No. 121 – Monday, 15th March 1920". Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  8. A Sedunary, (2008), The Little Book of Reading FC
  9. Gillatt, Peter (30 November 2009). Blackpool FC On This Day: History, Facts and Figures from Every Day of the Year. Pitch Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-905411-50-2.
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