Australian Football

AustralianFootball.com Celebrating the history of the great Australian game

 

Key Facts

Full name
Norman Smith

Known as
Norm Smith

Nickname
The Red Fox

Born
21 November 1914

Place of birth
Clifton Hill, VIC (3068)

Died
29 July 1973 (aged 58)

Place of death
Pascoe Vale, VIC (3044)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 20y 269d
Last game: 35y 215d

Height and weight
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 81 kg

Senior clubs
Melbourne; Fitzroy

Jumper numbers
Melbourne: 4
Fitzroy: 4

Recruited from
Melbourne (1949)

State of origin
VIC

Family links
Len Smith (Brother)Peter Smith (Son)Wayne Harmes (Great nephew)

Norm Smith

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
MelbourneV/AFL1935-19482105462.6064%16.685.9427
FitzroyV/AFL1949-195017261.5347%1
V/AFL1935-19502275722.5263%16.685.9428
Total1935-19502275722.5263%16.685.9428

Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only

AFL: 4,320th player to appear, 405th most games played, 44th most goals kickedMelbourne: 543rd player to appear, 21st most games played, 2nd most goals kickedFitzroy: 652nd player to appear, 502nd most games played, 183rd most goals kicked

After a fine 210-game, 546-goal playing career with Melbourne between 1934 and 1948, Norm Smith served a three season coaching apprenticeship with Fitzroy (during the first two of which he played a further 17 games and kicked another 26 goals) before returning 'home' in 1952 to succeed Alan La Fontaine at the helm of his old club.

Smith's achievements with the Demons would become legendary: five flags between 1955 and 1960 and a sixth in 1964 during a sequence of 11 successive finals appearances for an overall success rate during the period of more than 73%. Today, the medal awarded to the best player afield in each season's AFL Grand Final is named in his honour.

An astute football thinker, the flame-haired Smith also possessed a fiery temperament which saw him skirt controversy on various occasions during his career. The most notable such occurrence took place in the middle of the 1965 season when, following a slump in form by the Demons which saw them lose three out of four matches after winning their first eight, he was sensationally - indeed, most would say precipitously - sacked, only to be just as sensationally reinstated a week later after the side had been beaten yet again. The whole affair clearly took its toll on Smith, however, and he would only once again - in 1970, at the fresh pastures of the Lake Oval - steer a side into the major round. Nevertheless, it is with the irrepressible Melbourne sides of the 1950s and early 1960s that his name has rightly become synonymous.

Smith's premature death in 1973 at the age of 58 robbed the game of one of its premier strategists, motivators and personalities.

Author - John Devaney

Sources

Full Points Footy Publications

Footnotes

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