City's Oldest Living Player Dies

22 November 2010 02:10
Norman Smith RIP Coventry City's oldest living player Norman Smith died on Thursday, five days short of his 92 birthday.  Norman grew up in Boldon, a village between Newcastle and Sunderland and was playing for Standard Apprentices when City spotted him in 1938. Norman was an enthusiastic centre-forward who could also play on the right-wing. He got a surprise first team call-up in the number nine shirt in September 1938 in a 0-3 defeat at Nottingham Forest. He played two further games, in a 1-3 defeat at West Brom and a 0-0 home draw with Bury, before going back to reserve team football. In February 1939 he scored hat-tricks in successive games for the reserves against Bristol City and Swansea and in the aborted 1939-40 season he scored another three as City’s reserves won 3-2 at Tottenham.  Although the war cost Norman the best years of his football career he served his country in the RAF between 1939 and 1945 as a flight lieutenant flying Spitfires and Mustangs. He was re-engaged by the club after the cessation of hostilities but he played only 12 games in two seasons. Two weeks later Smith, playing as an out and out right-winger had a storming game in 5-2 FA Cup win over Newport County but failed to get on the score sheet himself. Norman struggled to get a first team game after that, mainly due to the form of centre-forward George Lowrie. His last game for Coventry was in a 1-3 defeat at Tottenham in November 1947 and after the match he joined Millwall for £3,000. A week later he made his debut for the South London side, at Highfield Road, and helped them to a 1-0 win. He played only 11 games for Millwall before returning to the Midlands in 1949. He later played non-league football for Bedworth United and possibly Nuneaton Borough. Shortly after the war he started work at the Humber factory and then went to the GEC where he worked until he retired in the late 1980s. Norman spent his last years in a Coventry nursing home but sadly his memories of his footballing days were vague.