An antidote to that Graeme Speirs article.
It is with great pleasure that I announce the induction into the crypt of the world’s vainest football pundit, the sport’s worst administrator and a man notable for being completely rubbish at everything he’s ever attempted – Mr Gordon Duffield Smith.
Old Smudger may not be as obviously repulsive as any of the John McClellands or Tommy McLean but for unremittingly rotten service to the sport his admission is well deserved. A man who’s playing career included what is almost certainly the most famous miss in the long history of the FA Cup and whose career as an administrator with both the SFA and Craig Whyte era Rangers are landmarks in ineptitude and embarrassment.
Gordon Smith first came to my attention in the late summer of 1977 when he signed for Rangers from Kilmarnock for a fee of £65,000. I wasn’t really that bothered – I was more concerned with trying to make out I was a Punk Rocker and also with the imminent departure of Kenny Dalglish from Celtic to care about this skinny, slightly oddly coiffured new dud.
He did quite well in his early months at Ibrox scoring a lot of goals in his first few weeks of what was to prove a horrible season for Celtic. As Rangers dominated the Typewriter Loyal pressed their new hero’s claims for elevation to the Argentina bound national team but in one of the few clever moves of that bizarre campaign manager Ally MacLeod ignored the cries for Smith to be included. It is, though, a cause of regret for me that the biggest fiasco in Scottish Football until the glorious events of 13th February 2012 did not have some contribution from the pock-marked narcissist.
Smith may have missed out on that debacle but his career was soon in obvious decline, derided by many of his own team’s supporters as being a timid waster who, like some extra from Mr Benn, disappeared from games ‘as if by magic.’ It is a fact that he was in Rangers’ starting line-up the night the ten men of Celtic came from behind to beat them 4-2 but his contribution to an evening of high drama was not a significant one.
My last clear memory of him as a Rangers player that season was from a couple of months before when playing against Cologne in the Mungersdorfer he was clean through on the goalkeeper and struck his shot so arrogantly that Archie McPherson proclaimed ‘he’s done it!’ only for the ball to skitter past the goal and on to the track behind the goal.
It was the shape of things to come in Smudgerland.
Punted by Rangers to Brighton and Hove Albion in late 1979 he made a surprise return to Rangers in time to play in the League Cup Final against Celtic in December 1982. Less surprisingly to Smith-watchers Celtic won that trophy for the first time in eight years with Smith’s only effort on a wretchedly wet afternoon being his admittedly successful attempt to leave not a hair out of place on that sculpted Barnet.
After three games he was back in Sussex where he played a bit part in the Seagull’s surprise run to the FA Cup Final. But in the final he achieved ‘legnedary’ status missing a fantastic chance to seal a last minute upset win over Man United when he poked his shot straight at Gary Bailey.
It probably wasn’t the sitter it was made out to be (although having looked it up on You Tube it is actually pretty bad and he had had a feeble miss a few minutes earlier) but his poor control of a perfect pass from Michael Robinson and weak shot, that abject failure to grab a real chance of glory, are what makes that famous miss so celebrated. Smith’s playing career fizzled out and that apparently was that.
But in 1995 still with the immaculate coiffure and now complete with a condescending manner suggesting he’d missed his true vocation as a headmaster who gullible nitwits in the media would consider to be ’progressive’ but who was viewed with distaste and suspicion by the teachers, students and parents who actually had to work with him on a day to day basis, here was old Smudger dispensing (actually not very) bon mots at the prompting of either Dougie Donnelly or Rob MacLean on Sportscene.
Although not as likely to mangle the English language as, say, Derek Johnstone or Gordon Dalziel, it took a few weeks for the penny to drop that his contributions were both banal and incredibly biased in favour of one of his former clubs. I have dim, alcohol (and possibly other chemically induced) visions of him standing beside a table moving counters about in a feeble attempt to persuade us he had some tactical insight but my memory may be playing tricks on me.
Whatever, his contributions for BBC Scotland were not amongst the finest things aired by the Corporation. And yet they obviously impressed somebody.
March 2007 saw the SFA without a Chief Executive. Somebody inside Hampden had been impressed by Smith’s appearances on the BBC and he emerged as first candidate and then appointee for the role.
Jaws dropped – especially amongst Celtic supporters.
Where previously the SFA had merely appointed Rangers sympathisers such as George Graham and Jim ‘Farry’ Farry to the post, choosing an actual former Rangers player – one with no obvious qualifications for such a position – seemed to be taking things too far, especially as a few weeks before the Scotland manager’s job had gone to another ex-Ranger (Mcleish) instead of the man who had been the previous two managers’ assistant who was an ex-Celt.
Bizarrely, just a few weeks into the job Smith was writing in some book about Rangers that there was currently ’an agenda’ against his former club.
It was not an auspicious start. Bungled managerial appointments, embarrassing press conference, an ambivalent response to the behaviour of two (then) Rangers players following first an all night drinking session and then an unsubtly loutish display by the same duo were just the highlights of a disastrous three years in office. Stewart Regan may be nobody’s idea of a top executive but compared to Ol’ ‘Smudge’ he’s Richard Branson.
A year or so later Smith has been pontificating away on the Beeb and in the pages of the Daily Getworse before he is appointed Director of Football at Rangers by Mr Craig Whyte. Given Smith’s woeful track record alarm bells should have been ringing in the ears of Rangers’ fans when this particular appointment was made but amidst their euphoria in the summer of 2011 few bothered.
When the whole edifice crashed in February 2012 Smith was just one of many who had been in some position of authority at Ibrox who claimed to have known nothing of what Whyte had been up to. Duff and Phelps failed to impress in their role of Administrator but even they sussed out that Smith was useless and so it was that the failed striker, droning pundit and failed executive was one of the few actually sacked by the administrators.
Since then like the proverbial bad penny he has returned to the airwaves giving those who listen his supposedly expert and impartial views on football. Like the club he served with such lack of distinction he shows no sign of contrition or embarrassment for past failings.
Semi-articulate but still biased and wrong about just everything to do with his former club Smith is a worthy admission to the crypt.
And I hope he reads this and is annoyed by it – the narcissistic, pompous, sitter missing twat that he is.
He looked like Moira Anderson. Many would argue that he played like her as well.