From: Youth team
He is: Roy of the Rovers' wet dream
There is absolutely nothing better as a football fan than to watch a local boy
come through the youth system into the first team and score goals and play
well. Cheering on Tommy Smith is what being a Watford fan is all about for
me. What's nice is that he's already given us a good deal to cheer about.
Anyone watching the youth team and the reserves would report back with
excitement about this small, thin boy who just looked the part. He played
the odd game as a substitie for the first team, but never really got a
proper chance, and probably still hasn't.
I clearly remember being on the mobile to my mate Brad, who couldn't make
the game as GT threw Tommy on as a last try to get through the QPR defence
at Loftus Road in February 99. I said to Brad - "Oh, GT's put Tommy Smith
on", and Brad said to me, "That's good, I like him, he's hungry, bet he
Smith was ravenous that day. Five minutes after he came on, he dispossed a QPR
defender and played the ball out to Nicky Wright on the right. When the ball
came into the area again, there he was, running hard, to sweep the ball into
the net for the winner. Mixed in with the general delirium was a sense of
pride that the boy was "one of us".
In the Premiership, Smith developed further into a real crowd favourite.
Quick, determined, skilful, he was a handful for all defenders. Sure, he
needs to put on a few pounds, and gain more confidence in front of goal. But
the goal against Middlesborough was a classic, weaving his way through the
experienced defence before clipping it over the goalkeeper. It brought him
to the attention of Andy Gray and many others, who were marking Tommy out as
one to watch. And if you score against Manchester United, as he did with
aplomb, then it doesn't exactly harm your popularity!
This coming season in Division One will be the breakout season. Graham Taylor
wants him score more goals, instead of being pulled out wide in attempts to
set up other people. In my opinion, his best position may be just behind the
two strikers, in the hole, where his creativity and hunger could perhaps be
more positively used. Whatever happens, if Tommy Smith isn't a regular in
the Watford starting line up by the end of the season, then something will
have gone wrong.
It would be to Watford's benefit, as well as Tommy Smith's, if it all goes
Last updated: July 2000