156 Thomas Smith

Biography

Thomas Potter Smith, later in his career known simply as Potter Smith, was an inside forward who hailed from the Byker area of Newcastle Upon Tyne. His older brother Stephen Smith joined Chelsea from local side St Peter’s Albion in the summer of 1921, and Thomas followed a similar path a year later when he left St Peter’s and headed to South Wales to join Division Three South side Merthyr Town in July 1922. Thomas spent one season at Merthyr scoring eight times in 22 matches, form that was sufficient to impress Hull City manager Bill McCracken who claimed his signature in June 1923. Smith was handed his debut at the end of August in the second game of the season, and five days later he scored his first City goal in a 1-1 draw at Leicester City. He made five further appearances over the next few weeks, scoring again in a late September 1-2 defeat at home to Leeds United. However in mid-October Smith’s inside right shirt was passed to Scotsman George Martin and Thomas’s time in the City first team was nearly over. He started one more match in February 1924, a 1-0 win over South Shields, but was placed on the Tigers’ transfer list in May 1924.

Smith joined Hartlepools United in June 1924 and scored on his debut in August 1924 against Rochdale, then continued to score regularly and ended the season with 8 goals from 35 starts. In July 1925 he returned to Merthyr and had a more modest season, scoring four times in 14 appearances. However he did enough to attract of First Division Cardiff City, for whom he signed in March 1926. His first full season in 1926/27 was hampered by an operation on his appendix, meaning he took no part in the Bluebirds’ run in the FA Cup that resulted in the Welsh side lifting the trophy for the only time, beating Arsenal 1-0 at the Empire Stadium (this was the first FA Cup final to feature the hymn “Abide With Me” during the build up). He made up for missing the 1927 FA Cup final by playing in the 1928 Welsh Cup Final, in which Cardiff defeated Bangor City 2-0. Smith stayed with Cardiff for a further two seasons, making 14 appearances in 1928/29 as the Ninian Park side finished bottom of the First Division and were relegated.

In May 1929 Smith transferred to Division Three South side Brighton and Hove Albion. He scored a brace of goals in his second start for the Seagulls against Watford and went on to score nine goals, the best return of his career to date. Potter Smith became a stalwart at the Goldstone Ground, playing into his mid-30s and missing only a handful of games each season for seven years. His most productive season came in 1932/33 when he struck thirteen goals in 52 starts including ten goals in a mammoth eleven match FA Cup run that started with a hattrick against Shoreham in the October 1932 First Qualifying Round and ended with defeat against West Ham United in a February 1933 Fifth Round replay. By the end of the 1936/37 season Smith had made 320 starts for Brighton in all senior competitions and scored 57 goals. He moved to Division Three South rivals Crystal Palace in September 1937 but in his one season at Selhurst Park he made no appearances. His senior career ended in the 1938 close season having made 441 senior appearances and scored 81 goals.

In September 1938 he moved to ambitious Birmingham Combination side Gloucester City as player-coach. His arrival did not precipitate the upturn in results that was expected and his playing days at Gloucester came to a close in December 1939 thanks to injury. By now Smith was working as an aeroplane fitter and living in a grand city centre four storey Victorian house – in 1941 he was bound over to keep the peace after an argument with a tenant got out of hand. He later returned to Brighton, where he died in September 1978.

Details

Nationality: England
Date/Place of Birth: 7 June 1901, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Hull City First Game: 27 August 1923, Clapton Orient A (Division Two), 22 years, 81 days old
Hull City Final Game: 16 February 1924, South Shields H (Division Two), 22 years, 254 days old

Clubs

St Peter’s Albion, Merthyr Town (1922-1923), Hull City (1923-1924), Hartlepools United (1924-1925), Merthyr Town (1925-1926), Cardiff City (1926-1929), Brighton & Hove Albion (1929-1937), Crystal Palace (1937-1938), Gloucester City (1938-1939)

Hull City Record

Career: 8 apps, 2 goals

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