A stroll down memory lane
As we look towards 80s week, Craig Stoddart remembers Kevan Smith in his Pic from the Past series.
The former Darlington defender who is universally known as ‘Smudger’, was respected for his leadership during his time at Feethams and forever remembered for being part of three promotion-winning sides.
He was skipper for two of them, in 1989-90 and 1990-91, given the armband on his return to the club by Brian Little who had enticed Smith back to Darlington in the summer of 1989 for a second spell having made his name at the club a decade earlier.
Having previously played in the Stockton District League, Smith impressed while on trial, quit his job as a welder and grasped his opportunity to become a professional footballer at the age of 19.
He made his debut in September 1979, a 4-0 defeat at Torquay United being the first of 440 matches in black and white – only Ron Greener, John Peverell and Brian Henderson made more appearances for Quakers – and Smudger hardly missed a match for the next six seasons.
The last year of his first spell saw the team win promotion in 1984-85 when Cyril Knowles took the club into Division Three, and for the next four years there were spells with Rotherham United, Coventry City and York City for Smith.
He headed back to Darlington when Little assembled a new-look squad and no player was more influential than Smudger as Quakers enjoyed back-to-back title wins, rising from the Conference to Division Three (League One in today’s terms).
Smith is pictured at the top of the piece marking the occasion of his 250th appearance for Darlington.