Rohan H. Smith
31 May 1973 (age 49)
Place of birth
Yarraville, VIC (3013)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 296d
Last game: 33y 108d
Height and weight
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Western Bulldogs: 31, 5
State of origin
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The phrase "local boy makes good" has been around for many a decade but it couldn't be any apter than for Western Bulldogs' stalwart Rohan Smith, who graduated through his local club Kingsville and the Footscray under 19s, bypassing the National Draft to play his first game for the red, white and blue in 1992.
Possessing neither great height (184cm) nor substantive weight, Smith was blessed with an ability to run. He took some time to learn how to best use that ability, though, and after playing 14 of a possible 22 home and away games in his debut season, he was overlooked for that year's finals series and managed only 17 appearances for the Dogs' senior side across 1993 and 1994.
However, in 1995 under hard-nosed coach Alan Joyce, Smith himself adopted a more hardened approach to his football, and developed the poise for which he became renowned over the next decade. After missing selection in the opening round of that season, he bounced back with a strong showing against Hawthorn the next week, and from that time onwards remained an automatic selection through until his retirement after Bulldog's 2007 Semi Final loss to West Coast, his 300th game.
While he used his damaging run and evasive skills to great effect in the backlines, Smith was equally at home on the wing and in the forward line, evidenced by his 31 goals in 1999 and 42 goals the following season.
An integral part of the Bulldogs 'successful' era (in relative terms for a club whose only premiership came in 1954) under coach Terry Wallace, Smith was one of several long-term loyal Bulldog servants who came within a whisker of football's ultimate success, with the Dogs falling agonisingly short against Adelaide in the 1997 Preliminary Final. It is held by many pundits that had the Dogs been successful that day, they would have comfortably accounted for St Kilda in the following week's Grand Final, as the Crows ultimately did. An enduring image of that fateful day is Smith slamming his open palms against the MCG turf in despair after the Dogs surrendered a lead they had held for most of that afternoon.
Smith put that heartbreak behind him to give the Tricolours another 10 years of sterling service. The Bulldogs would make the finals several times again under Wallace and Rodney Eade without tasting premiership success. Nevertheless, Smith stands alongside the likes of Sutton, Whitten, Schultz, Grant, Johnson, West and co as one of the Western Bulldogs favourite sons.
Embarking on a media career after his playing days were over, Smith continued his close association with the Dogs throughout, initially as a runner, and later as an assistant coach, a role he still holds today. He is also involved in player management.
Author - Andrew Gigacz