Saturday, June 2, 2007

100 Person Who Shock The Kop - NO 25: Tommy Smith


At number 25 in our ’100 Players Who Shook The Kop’ countdown is the one and only ’Anfield Iron’ Tommy Smith.
Four years after our ground-breaking '100 Days That Shook The Kop', we are delighted to invite you to enjoy our new '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' series – the definitive countdown of the 100 players who have made the biggest impact at Liverpool.

Over 110,000 supporters have all nominated their own personal Top 10 players in order of impact made and now the definitive top 100 countdown is underway.

Every player who has made the top 100 – and there are some surprises in there - will be honoured on this website via the e-Season ticket console with a specially produced video clip, including archive footage and exclusive interviews.

Since 1892 hundreds of players have represented this club but everyone has their own particular favourites so don't expect this list to be based solely on talent. The greatness of a player can be measured in many ways – obviously, his ability on the pitch is the most important, but 100 PWSTK is much more than that. It's about the impact the individuals chosen have had on this club, be it for a variety of reasons. Maybe it was because of their unique rapport with the crowd, a specific incident that has never been forgotten or anything else that has left a lasting impression.

Name: Tommy Smith

Years at Liverpool: 1960 to 1978
Position: Defender

Date-of-birth: 5/4/1945
Birthplace: Liverpool

Signed from: Apprentice (April 1962)

Games: 639
Goals: 48

Honours: First Division Championship (1965/66, 1972/73, 1975/76, 1976/77), European Cup (1977), FA Cup (1965, 1974), UEFA Cup (1973, 1976), Charity Shield (1966, 1974), Super Cup (1977)

Liverpool legends don’t come tougher than Tommy Smith. Widely recognised as one of the hardest ever players, the Anfield Iron’s reputation goes before him and anyone unfortunate enough to have been on the receiving end of one of his bone crunching tackles will no doubt agree. But contrary to the belief of his critics Smith was not your archetypal clogger. Unlike many of his fellow hard men, he could also play a bit. Over 600 first team appearances for the Reds and a glittering array of winners’ medals are ample proof of that. As a defender who possessed determination, power and raw aggression in equal abundance, not to mention a lot more skill than he was given credit for, he was a key figure as Liverpool battled for supremacy on all fronts during the sixties and seventies. It may also come as a surprise to many that he was sent off just once in his top-flight career and that was only for swearing at referee Clive Thomas in a league game at Manchester City! Brought up in the shadow of Anfield, it came as no surprise that young Tommy supported the Reds. He joined the Liverpool ground staff in 1960 and within a couple of months was playing reserve team football at the tender age of 15, although Bill Shankly once famously quipped: "Tommy was never a boy - he was born a man!" Smith's progress in the Central League was rewarded with a first team debut at home to Birmingham at the tail end of the 1962/63 campaign and his growing reputation within the game was such that he even found himself the subject of a cheeky transfer enquiry from Manchester United boss Matt Busby – one that was swiftly rebuffed by a bemused Shanks. In 1965, Smith won his first major honour in the game as Liverpool lifted the FA Cup for the first time before adding a League Championship medal to that the following season. As the seventies dawned and a new Reds team took shape Smith was appointed club captain and in 1972/73 proudly became the first Liverpool skipper to lift a European trophy. But within a matter of months he had the armband taken from him and was dropped from the team. To make matters worse, the captaincy was passed to his arch enemy in the Reds team Emlyn Hughes. Smith's dislike of Hughes was no secret and during what was one of the most difficult and frustrating periods of his Anfield career he seriously contemplated a move to Stoke. Fortunately, he eventually came to his senses, knuckled down and regained his place in the team. As old age began to catch up with him he announced that the 1976/77 season was set to be his last at the club he loved. At 32 years of age he was entering the veteran stage, was no longer an automatic choice in the team and had just one year left on his contract. However, his career was set for one last dramatic and glorious twist during the momentous campaign that was to come. An injury to Phil Thompson saw him thrust back into the first team spotlight and on the unforgettable evening of 25 May 1977 came Smith's crowing moment in a red shirt when he scored the second goal in the 3-1 European Cup Final triumph over Borussia Monchengladbach. He actually then played on for another season before finally severing his 18-year association with the club to join John Toshack's Swansea revolution. A brief spell as a youth coach at Anfield preceded a career as an after-dinner speaker and columnist in the local media but he continues to follow the fortunes of his beloved Reds with the same passion and intensity he showed as an influential member of the all-conquering sides he was part of. When they made Tommy Smith they threw away the mould and there'll only ever be one Anfield Iron.

Sold to: Swansea City (August 1978)

Claim to fame: Netting a 'Roy of the Rovers' style bullet header past Wolfgang Knieb in Rome '77

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