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In Memoriam: Dave Smith (1933 - 2022)

12 September 2022

The club was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dave Smith, arguably the club’s greatest ever manager, at the age of 88.

Dave was in charge of Mansfield Town during the golden period of the club’s history in the mid-1970s.

Born in Dundee, he began his playing career to Burnley in 1950 and moved on to Brighton and Hove Albion in 1961 before joining Bristol City in 1962 where his career ended.

He started his coaching career with Sheffield Wednesday and then moved to Newcastle United and Arsenal.

His first managerial post was with the Stags in 1974 where he inherited a very good squad.

Dave signed two club legends – Gordon Hodgson and Ray Clarke – and, in his first season the club stormed to the old Fourth Division Championship with a club record (under two points for a win) 68 points, six points clear of runners-up Shrewsbury Town.

His second season, in 1975-76, was not so successful and by mid-February the club were bottom of Division 3, six points from safety.

Though the turnaround was remarkable as the team remained unbeaten for the last 19 games of the season to finish in the top half of the table.

However, with four games of the season remaining, Smith had been relieved of his duties – and temporarily replaced by his assistant manager Mick Buxton – with the reason never being made public and is still a mystery to this day.

He won four Manager of the Month awards with Mansfield: October and November 1974 in Division Four and March and April 1976 in Division Three.

He also took the Stags to the semi-finals of the Anglo-Scottish Cup and the fifth round of the League Cup in 1975-76.

Dave subsequently managed Southend United, Plymouth Argyle, Dundee and Torquay United, winning trophies with three of them.

He is second on the all-time list of Stags’ managers in the English Football League having won 44 of his 94 [league] matches in charge, a win rate of 48.6%.

Dave was a truly great manager who achieved success wherever he went, with the only disappointment being his unexplained exit from the Stags.

Smith’s successor- Peter Morris - built on his legacy and the club went on to reach the old Division 2 (now Championship).

The club sends its deepest condolences to Dave’s family and will hold a minute’s applause prior to kick-off in our home fixture against Hartlepool United on Friday 30 September.

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