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Archived News from July 2004

22nd July 2004 12:34

Dave Smith Celebrates 50 Years in Football

By Rob Wheldon

Former Mansfield Town manager Dave Smith has recently celebrated 50 years in football. To mark this occasion, Plymouth Argyle met Torquay United in a testimonial on Wed 14th July 2004, two other clubs he has helped to promotion during his career.

Born in Dundee in September 1933, Dave had a brief playing career, curtailed following a succession of serious injuries. He turned to coaching, enjoying roles at Burnley, the Libyan national side, Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle United and Arsenal before becoming a manager for the first time when he took over at Field Mill in April 1974 following the departure of Danny Williams. In fact, Dave had applied for the Stags job 7 years earlier, but was beaten to the post by Tommy Eggleston.

During the summer of 1974, Dave set about strengthening what was already a decent squad, but one which lacked one or two vital ingredients. His first purchase was midfielder Gordon Hodgson who joined for £8,000 from Newcastle United. A couple of months later, just before the start of the season, he signed striker Ray Clarke from Swindon Town, for the same fee, to partner Terry Eccles. These two signings were to prove the catalyst for one of the Stags best ever seasons as they won the Division 4 Championship, remaining unbeaten at home and securing the Championship with a stunning 7-0 victory over Scunthorpe United at Field Mill. Also during that season the Stags progressed to the 5th Round of the FA Cup, losing 1-0 to Division One side Carlisle in a match featured on BBC's Match of the Day. The Stags made a slow start to life in Division 3 and were struggling five points adrift at the foot of the table with just 19 games remaining. However, the Stags went on a fantastic unbeaten run through to the end of the season and finished in 11th place. Once again the Stags did well in a cup competition, this time in the Football League Cup, beating both Coventry City and Wolverhampton Wanderers in reaching the Quarter Final for the only time in the club's history. However, Dave departed Field Mill just before the end of that season, leaving in April 1976 for reasons not disclosed at the time, causing much anger amongst the supporters. The side Dave had developed went on to win the Division 3 Championship the following season, under the guidance of Peter Morris.

After leaving the Stags, Dave became boss of Southend United, taking them to Division 4 runners-up in 1978 and then after a relegation, to the Division 4 Championship in 1981. Dave managed Southend for seven years before becoming manager of Plymouth Argyle in November 1984. He then won promotion with his third club by getting Argyle to the Division 3 runners-up spot in 1986. In the Summer of 1988 Dave moved back to his hometown to manage Dundee, but a year later was back in the West Country with Torquay United, once again securing promotion with a play-off victory in 1991. One further spell in management followed with Scottish side Montrose before Dave concentrated once again on coaching, something he still enjoys in the South West where he now lives.

Dave Smith is a true great amongst previous Stags managers. Despite a poor run at the start of the 1975-76 season his record is excellent and he also managed the Stags to the 5th Round of the FA Cup and Quarter Final of the League Cup in his two seasons in charge. His overall record during his time as Stags boss is truly impressive, his side holds the record for the least defeats in a season (6), least away defeats in a season (6), most home wins in a season (17), most home, away and total points in a season (40, 28 and 68 under the 2 points for win system) and the run of 20 league matches undefeated (15 of them under Dave) is also a club record. The Stags Supporters Association felt it important that Dave's contribution to Mansfield Town FC must not be forgotten and we organised a presentation to Dave to congratulate him on his 50 years in football. Pictured below is SSA Amber Member Shaun Knight presenting Dave with a memento on behalf of all supporters of Mansfield Town. All at the SSA would also like to thank Plymouth Argyle FC for the hospitality shown to our representative and for allowing us to make this well deserved presentation.


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