Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Bernard Keith Smith

Known as
Bernie Smith

19 December 1927

Place of birth
Adelaide, SA (5001)

21 April 1985 (aged 57)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 20y 120d
Last game: 30y 114d

Height and weight
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 77 kg

Senior clubs
West Adelaide; Geelong

Jumper numbers
Geelong: 11

Recruited from
West Adelaide (1948)

State of origin

Hall of fame
Australian Football Hall of Fame (1996); South Australian Football Hall Of Fame (2002)

Bernie Smith

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
West AdelaideSANFL1945-194755120.22

Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only

AFL: 5,774th player to appear, 803rd most games played, 7,189th most goals kickedGeelong: 517th player to appear, 56th most games played, 610th most goals kicked

A centreman during his career with West Adelaide as well as during the early part of his VFL stint with Geelong, Bernie Smith is better remembered as one of the greatest back pockets in the history of the game. Moved to the back pocket by coach Reg Hickey in 1951, he went on to win both the club best and fairest award and the Brownlow Medal that same season, while for good measure he was among the Cats' best in their Grand Final defeat of Essendon.

Smith was ideally suited to a back pocket because he was pacy, had good ground skills, marked well, was always cool under pressure, and had superb judgement. Opposition coaches came to view him as Geelong's first line of attack, and in what was a virtually unprecedented move for the times he was often subjected to what would now be called tagging.

Bernie Smith played 55 games with West Adelaide between 1945 and 1947, winning a best and fairest award in his final season. His last game for Westies was the winning Grand Final of 1947 against Norwood, in which he was widely acknowledged as the best player afield. He won two best and fairest trophies during 183 games in 11 seasons with Geelong, played in two premiership sides, was named in the inaugural All Australian team after the 1953 Adelaide carnival, and was captain of the Cats for part of 1950 and the whole of 1954. In 2001, he was selected in the back pocket in Geelong's official 'Team of the Century' having five years earlier been allocated the same position in the equivalent V/AFL combination.

Author - John Devaney


Full Points Footy's SA Football Companion


* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.