George Smith (footballer born 1915)

George Smith (footballer born 1915)

Football manager infobox
playername= George Smith

fullname = George Caspar Smith
height = 1.86 m
nickname =
dateofbirth = April 23, 1915
cityofbirth = Bromley-by-Bow
countryofbirth = England
dateofdeath = death date and age|1983|10|31|1915|10|6
cityofdeath = Bodmin
countryofdeath = England
currentclub =
clubcrest =
clubnumber =
position = Centre Half
years = 1938-1945
clubs = Charlton Athletic
Queens Park Rangers
caps(goals) = 1 (?)
41 (?)
75 (?)
nationalyears = 1945
nationalteam = England (Wartime)
nationalcaps(goals) = 1 (0)
manageryears = 1956-1958
managerclubs = Sutton United
Crystal Palace
Portsmouth FC

General Biography

George Caspar Smith was an English footballer who was born in Bromley-by-Bow, East London on 23rd April 1915 and played as a centre half. He died in 1983.

He appeared in one wartime international for England (against Wales in May 1945) for which caps were not awarded although the England teams then were probably stronger than some pre-war sides. He also played in armed services representative sides which were Great Britain elevens in all but name.

After retiring from playing, Smith had a successful career as both an F.A. coach and manager. His league win ratios at Crystal Palace and Portsmouth FC were 43% and 36% respectively.

Early Playing Career

Smith's career began at Hackney Schools and he played for Bexleyheath & Welling (later to become Welling United) from 1937 to 1938.

Charlton Athletic

A year later, in May 1938, he was signed by Jimmy Seed for Charlton Athletic who were one of the strongest teams in the English 1st Division. Charlton had been runners-up in 1936-7 and then finished fourth and third before World War Two caused league football to be abandoned for six years. The outbreak of the war meant that Smith only had the opportunity to make only 1 full league appearance before regular football fixtures were halted. This was the final game of the 1938-39 season at home on 6th May to Preston North End; a game which Charlton won 3-1.

War Years

He spent the early period of the 2nd World War as a PT instructor on troop ships as well as being a wartime playing guest for Tottenham Hotspur among others.

On April 15th 1944, he played in Charlton’s 3-1 win against Chelsea in the Football League South War Cup Final at Wembley. In that 1944 final, the players received National Savings Certificates instead of medals. General Eisenhower was presented to the teams and afterwards was quoted as saying, “I started cheering for the Blues but after the Reds took the lead, well I had to cheer for them instead.”

Army & FA Representative XIs

During the last years of the war he also played in several strong Army and FA representative sides alongside players such as Frank Swift and Matt Busby, both of whom were friends from their days at Aldershot Army camp.

'In March 1945, an FA XI played two games in Belgium, against the national side and against the Diables Rouge, the Belgian parachute brigade. The full party was: Bert Williams (Walsall), Laurie Scott (Arsenal), Bert Sproston (Manchester City), George Hardwick (Middlesbrough), Matt Busby (Liverpool), George Smith and ‘Sailor’ Brown (Charlton Athletic), Stanley Matthews and Neil Franklin (Stoke City), Tommy Lawton and Joe Mercer (Everton), Stan Mortensen (Blackpool), Leslie Smith (Brentford) and Maurice Edelston (Reading). In Bruges, the FA team received a rapturous welcome from thousands of British troops – some of whom had torn down a wooden fence to gain admission – and went on to win 8-1.' cite book |last=Rippon |first=Anton |title= Gas Masks for Goal Posts: Football in Britain During the Second World War|year=2005 |publisher=Sutton Publishing Ltd |isbn=0750940301

Wartime International

George Smith made his one wartime international appearance against Wales at Ninian Park, Cardiff on 5th May 1945. England won 3-2 with a hat-trick by Raich Carter.

Later Playing Career

Brentford F.C.

After the war, in November 1945, he moved to Brentford for a £3,000 transfer fee. He made 41 league appearances for the Bees before moving to Queens Park Rangers in May 1947. The move was precipitated by a club decision not to allow players to maintain outside employment. Smith worked as a physical education teacher and was unwilling, along with several other first team players who also left, to meet the club's requirements.

Queens Park Rangers

He captained QPR to a Division III South Champions medal in 1948. In total, he played 75 league games for them.

End of Playing Career & Early Coaching

In September 1949 he joined Ipswich Town, made 8 league appearances and then became the club’s assistant manager until January 1950. This signalled the start of his managerial career. He moved to Chelmsford City in August 1950, then Redhill in July 1951, and Eastbourne United from 1952-55. This was a successful period for the club as, under Smith's guidance, they were twice County League champions, and runners-up once between 1953 and 1956.

F.A. Youth Coach

During this period he became the first paid F.A. Youth Squad manager of the England national team attending and participating in coaching sessions at Lilleshall.

From September 1955 until February 1956 he was coach at Sheffield United.


utton United

In 1956, Sutton United were looking for a new manager and long-serving club president (at that time, chairman), Andrew Letts recalls that Smith was recommended to the club by Tottenham manager, Arthur Rowe. He was appointed after interview on 26th May 1956 to take up duties on 1st July and steered the club through one of its happiest periods. In his second season of 1957-58, the club won both the Athenian League and the London Senior Cup; the former for the final time in the club’s history and the latter for the first time.

Although committed to a 4-year contract, success brought an offer of professional management from Crystal Palace and Sutton agreed to let Smith go, eventually replacing him with Malcolm Allison. Andrew Letts wrote of George Smith in the Sutton United Football Club 1898-1973 - 75th Anniversary Souvenir Book:

‘We had two very happy years, under inspired leadership, and had been left with a great example. I understand how the players felt for he lifted me, just as he lifted the game and them, to a different level, and I, like them shall always be grateful to him.’

Crystal Palace

In July 1958, he took over as manager of, then second division, Crystal Palace. When he took the Crystal Palace job he said he would resign if he did not achieve promotion within two years. He did not and subsequently kept his word; resigning in April 1960. However, he left a team good enough to win promotion for his successor.

George Smith returned to Sheffield United as coach from April 1960 until April 1961.

Portsmouth FC

He then began his decade as Portsmouth FC manager from April 1961 until April 1970. When he joined them, Portsmouth was in the third division but he won promotion to the Second Division by winning the Third Division Championship in 1962.

Field-Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, was the honorary chairman of Portsmouth FC having begun to support them during World War Two due to the proximity of his headquarters. In private correspondence dated 25th April 1962, he wrote to Smith:

‘I congratulate you very much on getting Portsmouth out of the Third Division – which was completely a wrong place for a famous team. While the players all did their stuff, the major credit goes to you.’

Throughout the sixties, on a limited budget, he kept Portsmouth on a sound financial footing in the second division. In 1970, he became Portsmouth FC general manager until his retirement from football in 1973.


He moved to Bodmin in Cornwall for the last years of his life and died in 1983.


*Rippon, A (2005) "Gas Masks for Goal Posts: Football in Britain During the Second World War" ISBN 0750940301
* Sutton United Football Club 1898-1973 - 75th Anniversary Souvenir Book
*Charles Buchan's Football Monthly, February 1961 edition

External links

* [ England War-Time Internationals]
* [ Official Website of Sutton United]
* [ Charles Buchan's Football Monthly, Feb. 1961]
* [ The News: The 1960s]
* [ Official Website of Portsmouth FC: The 1960s]
*soccerbase (manager)|525|George Smith

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