One of the true giants in Tottenham’s history, Bobby Smith was a member of the great Double side in 1961 scoring 33 league and cup goals. He also won the FA Cup (62) and the European Cup Winners Cup (63). His final tally of goals for Tottenham was 208 which place’s him second in the all time goal scorer’s chart. Along the way he set a number of other goal scoring records.
Bobby born in Yorkshire in 1933 and after leaving school he worked down the mines with his father. Bobby was an apprentice blacksmith fitting the shoes for the pit ponies. Turning out for his local youth team he started as a right back, it was only when the center forward did not turn up one week he moved up front. He joined Chelsea as an amateur but he became homesick and returned north. His father did not want him to spend his life in the mines returned him to London and he turned professional and made his first team debut at 17.
He scored a hat trick in the Youth Cup final and played for England Youth before moving to Spurs in December 1955. His debut came on Christmas Eve at home to Luton. The first goal followed the next month V Everton. He finished the season with 13 goals in 27 games. He even captained the side on the last day of the season and scored his first hat trick in a 3-1 over Sheffield United. He would later become regular skipper, (although it’s been suggested he didn’t enjoy the role), until the signing of Danny Blanchflower.
He actually played at inside–left in his first games for Tottenham but quickly found the number nine shirt was the best fit. In his first full season at Tottenham he hit another 18 goals and then in 1957/8 he amassed 36 equaling the club record set by Ted Harper back in 1931.
In the 1958/9 season he netted 32 league goals to be joint top scorer in the league, this included four V Everton in the famous 10-4 victory. Then in August 1960 at home to Blackpool he scored another hat trick this took him past George Hunt’s record of 125 league goals for the club, a record that stood since 1937.
He managed eleven hat tricks for Spurs, one in the FA Cup (four goals V Crewe) and the rest in Division One. He turned five of those hat tricks in to four goal hauls. He nearly made one of them a five but the ball went in off Terry Medwin, Terry apologized to Bobby after the game for getting in the way. He also played for London in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1958 (1).
He scored in two FA Cup Finals getting the first goal in our 1961 FA Cup Final win and also laid on the pass for the second. Then in our 1962 victory he laid on the first and scored the second with ‘a peach of a shot.’ He was in the side that won on a European Cup Winners Cup in 1963.
That was to be the last time we saw the best of Smith at Spurs. He had been struggling with his weight and fitness. Bobby spent much of his playing days forcing himself to play through the pain caused by injury. He revealed later that on the morning of the 1961 FA Cup Final he visited his GP for a pain keeping injection without Bill Nicholson’s knowledge. He said “If Bill had known the pain I was in, he would have left me out and this was the game of my life and I was determined not to miss it.”
Bobby experienced some of the pitch problems and he was sold to Brighton when he felt he still had much to offer Tottenham. However after scoring 19 times in his first season his fitness issues and personal issues continued. He moved on to non-league Hastings but his career quickly wound down.
Left - Bobby being put the hoops by Bill Watson.
Above - Bobby for England in 1963 V the Rest of the World.
On the international stage Bobby played just fifteen times for England and scored thirteen goals. He was chosen for the 1958 World Cup squad but did not play in the finals. His first cap came in October 1960 (the Double season) and scored the first goal as England beat Northern Ireland in Belfast. For those critics who claimed he was just a battering ram his fifth England goal in his third game V Spain was an exquisite chipped effort which led the headlines the following morning (2) and showed he was capable of great subtlety in his play.
Bobby scored in his first five games for his country. On four occasions he finished with a brace when playing for his country. His last game just three years after the first saw him score again also V Northern Ireland.
Talking to fans who watched him in his heyday they told me he was a bruiser but don’t forget this was at a time when defenders felt any forward was fair game for kicking seven bells out of. He was called fearless and this resulted in some of his injury problems if he thought he could get the ball he went in where the boots were flying. They said he was an intelligent player with an excellent positioning sense. Possibly the occasion colours the memory but he scored the first goal on the day we won the title in 1961. That goal was seen from the West Stand as ‘he took the ball and flicked it past the defender leaving him stranded and then volleyed it home, a magical moment.’
Bobby Smith was a key member of that great Tottenham side of the early sixties and one of the finest forwards to ever play for Spurs. He scored 176 in the League for Spurs in 271 games. Twenty two more goals came in the FA Cup and ten in Europe. Bobby passed away in 2011.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
Thanks – Once again various sources seem to have conjured differing figures. These are based on Bobby’s own book ‘My Memories of Spurs.’ Thanks also to THFC, Bob Goodwin and Daily Telegraph.
Notes - 1 – Inter Cities Fairs Cup - http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-111
2 - England V Spain, 26.10.60, this was on You Tube and is well looking for.
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