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Southend Managers From Yesteryear – Dave Smith

13 June 2018

Dave Smith managed Blues for just over seven years between 1976 and 1983 and left the club with one of the best win percentages of any Southend United boss.

Born in Dundee, Scotland in 1933, Smith played as a full-back for Burnley, Brighton & Hove Albion and Bristol City before stepping into coaching with Sheffield Wednesday. 

Smith’s first managerial role came at Mansfield Town and after only just gaining re-election to the Fourth Division in his first season, Smith would guide the Stags to the title the following year.

Mansfield finished six points clear at the top of the league and failed to lose at home all season, which caught the attention of Blues who hired him in the summer of 1976. 

Southend had just been relegated back to the Fourth Division with Smith taking over from Arthur Rowley despite the club being heavily linked with Lincoln City’s Graham Taylor. 

In Smith’s first season at Roots Hall, he would set a defensive record of just 45 goals conceded but the Blues’ lack of strike power meant they would draw a remarkable 19 games that first campaign. 

The following season those issues in front of goal were addressed and with an even better defensive record than the previous year, Smith would land promotion to the third tier. 

Blues would only last two years in the Third Division but they recorded some notable results in the cup competitions with draws against Liverpool and West Ham, and a League Cup win against Bolton.

Despite being under severe pressure after Southend were relegated back to the fourth tier, Smith maintained his role and it proved a great decision as Blues bounced back immediately in style. 

Southend would romp to the Fourth Division title and immediate promotion back to the third division, and with it Smith’s side would smash 20 club records along the way. 

Unfortunately, Smith’s time at Roots Hall came to an unceremonious end when he was sacked by new owner Anton Johnson while he was still on holiday in 1983. Smith, though, did get the last laugh by returning to the club and holding a sit-in in his office until he was given compensation.  

Date of Birth: 22nd September 1933
Place of Birth: Dundee, Scotland
Managed Southend: 1976-1983
Playing Honours: None
Managerial Honours: Fourth Division Title 1974/75, 1980/81, Forfarshire Cup 1988/89

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