Player profile

Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith

Birthdate: 5 April 1945
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Other clubs: Tampa Bay Rowdies (loan 1976), Los Angeles Aztecs (loan 1978), Swansea City (1978-79)
Bought from: Local
Signed for LFC: Joined 1960 - Professional 05.04.1962
International debut: 19.05.1971 vs. Wales
International caps: 1/0
Liverpool debut: 08.05.1963
Last appearance: 25.04.1978
Debut goal: 29.08.1964
Last goal: 08.04.1978
Contract expiry: 17.08.1978
Win ratio: 53.76% W:343 D:165 L:130
Honours: League Championship 1965/66, 1972/73, 1975/76, 1976/77; FA Cup 1965, 1974; European Cup 1977; UEFA Cup 1973, 1976
LFC league games/goals: 467 / 36
Total LFC games/goals: 638 / 48

Player profile

"I was born with football in my blood. Red of course, not Blue. There are no half measures in Liverpool, either in the pubs or in a football sense. My grandfather and father supported Liverpool. There was no debate. No arguement. I would also follow the Mersey Reds. Indeed it went a little bit deeper than that with me. I was a fanatic, brought up on a diet of football, football and more football." Tommy Smith is Liverpool FC through and through. He worked as a groundsman at Anfield, was a player, captain, coach and only a handful of players have played more games than him for Liverpool. Bill Shankly summed up Tommy best: "Tommy Smith wasn't born, he was quarried." Smith was born only a spitting distance from Anfield and as a 15-year-old in May 1960 his mum brought him to Shankly and told him to take good care of her son. Smithy became one of the toughest customers to ever wear the Liverpool shirt. But there was more to his game than tackling as he had excellent technique and scored quite a few goals in his time, albeit some of them from the penalty spot. Smith played alongside Billy Liddell up front when he started out with the reserves and played his first five games of the 1964/65 season as a forward, scoring two goals. His teammate, Chris Lawler, was amused by his playing style: "I told him: 'Smithy, the opposition would kick-off and you would be straight in to tackle the centre-half. Shouldn’t it have been the other way round?'"

Smith was moved to centre of defence on 5 December 1964 in a 5-1 League win against Burnley and never looked back. Despite often wearing the No. 10 jersey, Smith never was the inside-forward that his shirt number suggested, something which was to confuse foreign opponents who expected him to venture further up the field than he did. By the end of the season 20-year-old Smith had become a regular member of the side and featured in the emotional day at Wembley when Liverpool won the FA Cup for the first time. For the next ten years Smith was a fixture in the team. He only missed 41 out of 420 first division fixtures and was able to claim the No. 4 shirt almost exclusively as his own. Later in his Liverpool career he played as right-back until he lost his place to the up and coming Phil Neal.

Smith shared in the remarkable success of the mid-60's but was young enough to survive the changes that inevitably came as the decade ended and Bill Shankly started to rebuild for the future. He saw in Tommy the leadership qualities that he knew would help and encourage younger players and new signings and made him captain in March 1970. Smith revelled in the role and in his first full season as captain Shankly declared: "If Smith isn't named Footballer of the Year, football should be stopped and the men who picked any other player should be sent to the Kremlin." Members of the Football Writers' Association voted Frank McLintock. Smith held on to the armband until November 1973 following a row with Shankly just prior to kick-off at Highbury as he had been dropped from the starting 11 facing Arsenal. Smith left the stadium and took the next train home to Liverpool. He came close to leaving the club but soldiered on and quickly won his place back. Replaced by Emlyn Hughes as captain, Smith moved back to right-back as Chris Lawler's Anfield career neared its end. He only missed one of the remaining 25 League games and collected his second FA Cup winners' medal in the 3-0 win over Newcastle United, the biggest margin of victory in such a final since 1960.

Phil Neal's arrival threatened Smith's place in the side but his versatility enabled him to cover either full-back position and also the centre of the defence. He was still a very valuable player to have around, despite by now being in his 30's. New manager Bob Paisley knew in any case all about his courage and strength and how intimidating he could be to opponents. Smith utilised his fear factor to the fullest. "I did warn players. When Tottenham striker Jimmy Greaves came out at Anfield one time I handed him a piece of paper. He said: 'What's this?' I said: 'Just open it.' It was the menu from the Liverpool Infirmary. I make no bones about it, that's what I was good at. Some players were good dribblers, others good headers, I was a hard tackler and I used it to gain that 'edge' that Shanks was always looking for."

Smith announced that the 1976/77 season was to be his last. Phil Neal and Joey Jones were regulars at full-back and the young Phil Thompson was proving to be reliable in another position that Smith could cover with equal competence. Smith had only played three times in the League when he won a regular spot following Phil Thompson's injury in March. Smith played in the last 13 League fixtures, made his fourth FA Cup final appearance for the club and also made the team for the European Cup final in Rome. Expected beforehand to be his last game as a Liverpool player, just playing in such a match in such an arena would have satisfied most men, but not Tommy Smith! With the final tensely balanced at 1-1 and with Borussia sensing their chances after Simonsen's equaliser, he met Steve Heighway's left-wing corner firmly with his head to send the ball flashing past Wolfgang Kneib. Neal's late penalty secured Liverpool's greatest triumph and the team returned to an extraordinary welcome and, as fate would have it, Smith's own testimonial fixture at Anfield two days after the final, at which the giant and coveted trophy was proudly paraded. Smith decided to play one more season and made another 34 first-team appearances. An accident in his garden in April when he dropped a big hammer on his foot, ended his Liverpool career a month too soon. Smith moved to Swansea City, six months after his former teammate John Toshack had been appointed as player-manager at the Vetch Field. Before finally retiring as a player, he helped the Swans out of the old Third Division on their meteoric rise from the Fourth to the First.

Bob Paisley enjoyed having Tommy Smith in his ranks. "His fearless nature not only unsettled the opposition, it inspired his team mates. They drew strength from his example. It was little bit like having a big brother around to sort out any trouble you got into. Seeing Tommy racing on to the field after having a couple of stitches inserted into a head wound could put courage into the most cowardly of hearts – as long as you were on his side!"

Tommy Smith can rightly be classed as one of most consistent and influential players ever to have been at Anfield. During his long spell at Anfield he won four League championships and played in four FA Cup finals as well as in the finals of all three European club competitions. Only Borussia Dortmund's bizarre extra-time winner at Hampden Park in 1966 and Liverpool's apathetic attitude towards the League Cup in its early days probably prevented him from having a medal haul that no other British player could ever match. After retiring as a player, Smith looked after his business interests on Merseyside and later became a respected member of the Liverpool Echo's sports department. Poor health and a bad car accident affected his journalistic activities, but he coped with those adversities with the same courage and determination that will always be remembered whenever he wore a Liverpool shirt.

Appearances per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 467 52 30 85 4 638
1962-1963 1 0 0 0 0 1
1963-1964 0 0 0 0 0 0
1964-1965 25 8 0 7 0 40
1965-1966 42 1 0 9 1 53
1966-1967 42 4 0 5 1 52
1967-1968 36 7 2 6 0 51
1968-1969 42 4 3 2 0 51
1969-1970 36 3 2 4 0 45
1970-1971 41 7 3 10 0 61
1971-1972 37 3 1 3 1 45
1972-1973 33 2 4 10 0 49
1973-1974 34 7 5 3 0 49
1974-1975 36 0 4 4 1 45
1975-1976 24 2 0 9 0 35
1976-1977 16 4 0 7 0 27
1977-1978 22 0 6 6 0 34

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

Total Opponent
30 Leeds United
30 Tottenham
28 West Ham United
27 Everton
27 Leicester City
25 Chelsea
24 Arsenal
23 Newcastle United
22 Manchester United
21 Stoke City
20 Manchester City
20 Burnley
19 Wolves
17 WBA
17 Nottingham Forest
17 Ipswich Town
16 Derby
16 Coventry City
15 Southampton
14 Sheffield United
11 Sunderland
10 Sheffield Wednesday
9 Birmingham City
8 Blackpool
8 Aston Villa
8 Norwich City
7 Middlesbrough
7 Fulham
7 QPR
7 Crystal Palace
6 Ferencvaros
6 Carlisle United
5 Gladbach
5 Bristol City
4 Huddersfield Town
4 Blackburn Rovers
4 Bayern Munich
4 Dyn. Dresden
3 Cologne
3 Petrolul Ploiesti
3 Watford
3 Bolton Wanderers
2 Walsall
2 Hull City
2 Luton Town
2 Swansea City
2 Malmo
2 Ajax
2 TSV Munich
2 Inter Milan
2 Juventus
2 Northampton Town
2 Standard Liege
2 Honved
2 Celtic
2 Bournemouth
2 Anderlecht
2 Stockport County
2 Mansfield Town
2 Dundalk
2 Vitoria Setubal
2 Hibernian
2 Athletic Bilbao
2 Frankfurt
2 AEK Athens
2 Zurich
2 Strømsgodset
2 Slask Wroclaw
2 Barcelona
2 Crusaders
2 Jeunesse d'Esch
2 Bruges
2 Hamburg SV
2 Benfica
2 Din. Bucharest
1 Aldershot
1 Borussia Dortmund
1 Brentford
1 Real Sociedad
1 Trabzonspor
1 Saint-Étienne
1 Swindon Town
1 Red Star Belgrade
1 Doncaster Rovers
1 Servette
1 Oxford United
1 Wrexham
Total Started/substitutions
637 Started
7 On the bench
1 Substitute
4 Substituted
Total Competition
467 League
52 FA Cup
30 League Cup
26 European Cup
22 European Fairs Cup
19 UEFA Cup
16 European Cup Winners Cup
4 Charity Shield
2 European Super Cup

Goals per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 36 2 2 8 0 48
1962-1963 0 0 0 0 0 0
1963-1964 0 0 0 0 0 0
1964-1965 4 0 0 0 0 4
1965-1966 3 0 0 1 0 4
1966-1967 1 0 0 0 0 1
1967-1968 3 1 1 1 0 6
1968-1969 6 1 0 0 0 7
1969-1970 4 0 0 3 0 7
1970-1971 2 0 1 0 0 3
1971-1972 6 0 0 0 0 6
1972-1973 2 0 0 1 0 3
1973-1974 1 0 0 0 0 1
1974-1975 2 0 0 1 0 3
1975-1976 0 0 0 0 0 0
1976-1977 0 0 0 1 0 1
1977-1978 2 0 0 0 0 2

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

Total Started/substitutions
48 Started
0 Substitute
Total Competition
36 League
4 European Fairs Cup
2 FA Cup
2 League Cup
2 European Cup Winners Cup
1 European Cup
1 UEFA Cup
Total Goal minute period
5 1-15 minutes
4 16-30 minutes
13 31-45 minutes
6 61-75 minutes
12 76-90 minutes
Total Open play/Penalty
26 Open play
22 Penalty

Milestone Appearances

# Date Against Stadium Competition
1 08.05.1963 Birmingham City Anfield League
50 18.09.1965 Tottenham White Hart Lane League
100 03.09.1966 West Ham United Upton Park League
150 28.08.1967 Arsenal Highbury League
200 17.08.1968 Arsenal Highbury League
250 12.08.1969 Manchester City Anfield League
300 08.09.1970 Mansfield Town Field Mill League Cup
350 19.04.1971 Manchester United Old Trafford League
400 12.08.1972 Manchester City Anfield League
450 08.09.1973 Chelsea Anfield League
500 20.08.1974 Wolves Molineux League
550 20.12.1975 QPR Anfield League
600 10.05.1977 Coventry City Highfield Road League

Milestone Goals

# Minute Date Against Stadium Competition
1 22 29.08.1964 Blackburn Rovers Ewood Park League

Related Articles

One-Cap Wonders!

Owen Collins looks at the players who have gained international recognition without necessarily making the grade at the club but particularly one name on this list is a great surprise given his success.More

Liverpool's iron man, Tommy Smith

An article in the Telegraph by Sue Mott published 22 March 2008.More

Tommy Smith - Hard man

An exclusive interview in October 1999 by Shankly.com, one of LFChistory's websites.More

Smithy: I feared the worst

An article from liverpoolfc.tv on 13th of June 2007.More

Liverpool book a passage to Rome

The Times report on FC Zurich - Liverpool on 06.04.1977. More

Ron Yeats and Tommy Smith in a gunfight!

Tommy Smith and Rowdy Yeats had a bit of an adventure when on tour with Liverpool in 1966.More

Smith set to join Toshack

An article from the Liverpool Echo on 17 August 1978.More

Anfield personalities: Tommy Smith

From Liverpool's match programme on 30th April 1962.More

Spirit of Mersey pride

An article from the Liverpool Echo on 20 March 1979.More

Related Quotes

"I was only fifteen and playing in a five-a-side game at Melwood. I nutmegged Byrne and scored and I was on top of the world. A couple of minutes later a ball dropped between us, I went to head it and Gerry headed me and I went down with a gashed eye. As I lay on the ground covered in blood, Shankly strolled across, looked down at me and said `Lesson number one, never nutmeg Gerry Byrne son and think you can get away with it."

From Tommy Smith's interview on Shankly.com

"There was an incident once when I was coming back from injury and had played for the reserves in a match against Preston at Anfield. I was approached by a chap and his wife as I left the ground. I asked if I could help them and they simply thanked me for not kicking their son. He had been playing inside left for Preston ! Again, it showed the value of reputation. I'd had absolutely no intentions of doing anything to this kid but my reputation had obviously not only got to him but to his parents as well.

I make no bones about it, that's what I was good at. Some players were good dribblers, others good headers, I was a hard tackler and I used it to gain that 'edge' that Shanks was always looking for."

Smith on lfcbootroom.net in 1999

"If he isn't named Footballer of the Year, football should be stopped and the men who picked any other player should be sent to the Kremlin."

Bill Shankly on Tommy Smith in the 1970-71 season. Members of the Football writers' association voted Frank McLintock.

"Tommy hated losing and was quite prepared to put himself through all manner of pain and suffering to avoid it. There was an element of notoriety about it which I think he quite enjoyed, but if any opponent cared to put that reputation to the test, Tommy didn’t disappoint them.

His fearless nature not only unsettled the opposition, it inspired his team mates. They drew strength from his example. It was little bit like having a big brother around to sort out any trouble you got into. Seeing Tommy racing on to the field after having a couple of stitches inserted into a head wound could put courage into the most cowardly of hearts – as long as you were on his side!"

Bob Paisley on Tommy Smith

"There is a famous picture of me after the final whistle running towards Ronnie Moran. It looks as if I was dashing across to throw my arms around him, but in fact I was asking for my two false teeth. I had to look the part in the post-match photo session."

Tommy Smith on the celebrations after the European final in 1977

"Come near me and I’ll break yer back”, was his catchprase. But he’s actually a very nice man, honest!"

Norman Hunter on Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith started out as a centre forward. Chris Lawler was amused by his playing style: "Smithy, the opposition would kick-off and you would be straight in to tackle the centre-half. Shouldn’t it have been the other way round?"

Chris Lawler's remark to Tommy Smith

"We [Smith and Chris Lawler] only found out later that a certain gentleman from down the East Lancashire Road has been monitoring our progress in the Central league. Matt Busby, the manager of Manchester United, was still rebuilding after the tragedy of the Munich Air Disaster in 1958. Later Bill Shankly would reveal to me that Busby had offered him £50,000 for the joint services of Messrs Smith and Lawler. The boss wouldn’t let his young prospects go. He had his own agenda and thankfully I was on it."

Tommy Smith

"I had now my heart of lifting the FA Cup at Wembley while helping Bob Paisley clear his head about that 1950 disappointment against Arsenal. My lasting memory is being down on my knees in one of the dressing-room toilets after the game, being violently sick. I don’t know why I was so ill. My pre-match build-up was the same as usual. Almost certainly, it was down to my bitter disappointment. As a kid I had dreamed about leading Liverpool up the steps to the Royal box to collect that most famous of all trophies."

Tommy Smith's reaction after Liverpool lost to Arsenal in the 1971 FA Cup final

"I was known as the Anfield Iron in my playing days. The Anfield Plastic doesn’t sound quite so intimidating, but in recent years I have had so many new joints fitted, I am soccer’s equivalent of the Bionic Man. I have got two plastic knee joints, an artificial right hip and a plastic right elbow – the end product of 21 years of fierce competition, beginning as a 14-year-old playing for Liverpool Boys and ending as 35-year-old with Swansea City."

Tommy Anfield Iron Smith

"That first day at Anfield, 10 January 1978, was a revelation. It seems a long time now but I remember how normal and ordinary it all was, no prima donnas, no superstars. I made only one error on that first morning, I asked Tommy Smith if I could borrow his hairdryer (I know it’s hard to imagine tough guy Smithy with a hairdryer but it’s absolutely true) and he turned to Phil Neal and said pointedly: ‘Everyone is allowed one mistake’. I took my own in the future."

Graeme Souness

"The atmosphere at Anfield was remarkable in those days – and it still is today. Just as in the sixties, seventies and eighties, the Kop still put the fear of God into opponents – just ask Chelsea!"

Tommy Smith in 2007

"I did warn players. When Tottenham striker Jimmy Greaves came out at Anfield one time I handed him a piece of paper. He said: 'What's this?' I said: 'Just open it.' It was the menu from the Liverpool Infirmary."

Tommy Smith on his intimidation tactics

"Tommy Smith wasn't born, he was quarried."

Bill Shankly summed up Tommy Smith best

"I was heading up to the North East for a speaking engagement and was using the fairly quiet M58 to link up with the M6, the M62 and finally the A1. I think I looked momentarily down to adjust the car radio. The next thing my car was totally out of control. I skidded and swerved trying desperately to straighten up. Then a tyre burst and the car flipped, crossing all three lanes before careering up an embankment and finishing upside down on what was left of the roof. If I can remember one thing it was the total silence. There I was suspended upside down, in agony and being slowly strangled by my own tie. I had eight broken ribs, two broken collar-bones and more seriously three hairline fractures at the top of my spine.

Following the accident I had a metal frame, called a halo, attached to my head. When I say it was attached, it was literally screwed into place to keep my head perfectly still to allow my hairline fractures in my spine to heal. Let’s just say I’ve had a lot of time to sit and think, not least about Bill Shankly’s words: "Football is not so much a matter of life and death. It's more important than that." Perhaps when you have cheated death, as I did, you are able to keep things in perspective."

Tommy Smith cheated death in April 1998

"I was born with football in my blood. Red of course, not Blue. There are no half measures in Liverpool, either in the pubs or in a football sense. My grandfather and father supported Liverpool. There was no debate. No arguement. I would also follow the Mersey Reds. Indeed it went a little bit deeper than that with me. I was a fanatic, brought up on a diet of football, football and more football. Possibly this is because I was born in the house at the bottom of Arkles Lane, within shouting distance of both Liverpool’s famous Anfield stadium and Everton’s equally historic Goodison Park.

My early days were actually spent in Buckingham street, Everton, in a flat over a coal yard. Everton! What a thought. The boy Smith was happy to get an early transfer out of that district at the age of five. We moved to 9 Lambet Road. Once again, it was only a stone’s throw from the two football stadiums. You could certainly hear every roar and chant in my house as the Kop army paid homage to one super hero in particular, an individual who I idolised and who I would eventually have the honour and privilege to call a teammate. The legendary Billy Liddell. I was a Catholic. Who idolised King Billy Liddell. But the religion was football and the only thing that mattered was supporting your team through thick and thin."

Tommy was a red through and through!

"The other thing I remember about that drawn cup derby was Joe Fagan pulling me aside afterwards and mentioning something that happened with Duncan McKenzie.
‘Tommy’, he said, beckoning me to him.
‘What is it Joe?” I asked.
“The winger . . .”
“Yes, what about him?”
“He nutmegged you, didn’t he?”
I just looked blankly at him.
“Won’t happen again, will it?” he frowned.
It didn’t.
A nice early tackle in the replay saw to that!"

Tommy Smith on Liverpool's and Everton's cup fight in April 1977

Scrapbook

Other Clubs

Club Season Club rank League apps League goals Total apps Total goals
Tampa Bay Rowdies 1976 NASL 17 0 17 0
Los Angeles Aztecs 1978 NASL 12 0 12 0
Swansea City 1978-1979 England Third Division 36 2 42 2
Total 65 2 71 2
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