Here’s a strange thing. Alan Smith won two first division titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup, and the Cup Winners Cup. He won the Golden Boot twice, and was named in the PFA First Division Team of the Year. So how many England caps did he get?
Answer one – and even that wasn’t a mainstream international, it was the invented “challenge cup.” So it goes.
Alan started with Alvechurch, moved to Leicester City, where he played alongside Gary Lineker at one time, and then joined us in 1987 and that’s when the trophies started.
Apart from the trophies he was our top scorer for us four years running. He was known for not getting a card – until he got his one and only card, I think (and this is from memory) in the last game he played before he retired.
He is fondly remembered, and yet was not always as prolific as my memory suggests.
Prior to Alan Smith’s arrival we had Nial Quinn as centre forward, but our most regular goal scorer was Martin Hayes. In 1986/7 Quinn played 35 and scored 8, Hayes played 31, on the wing, and scored 19. When Quinn was injured at the end of that season Merson moved to the number 9, and did ok, playing five and scoring three.
When Alan Smith arrived (after being loaned back to Leicester for the remainder of the 1986/7 season during which he was signed) he went straight into the team, and Martin Hayes, despite his goal scoring of the previous season was quickly dropped, and ultimately replaced by Kevin Richardson. Alan Smith played 36 games that season and scored 11. Michael Thomas, playing as a full back or defensive midfield was the second highest scorer with nine. In that first season, he was replaced by Nial Quinn for three games around Christmas but came back – as much because of his work rate as his ability to score goals. In fact he didn’t score at all during November and December in that first season, and only managed four in the second half of the season.
Charlie Nicholas started next to him, at number 10, but was quickly replaced by Perry Groves.
But subsequently it all came right. In the first fixture of 1988/9 he scored at hat trick away to Wimbledon, and the last game was away to Liverpool where as we all have seen a billion times, he scored the first of two with a glancing header and hit the ball forwards to Micky Thomas for the second.
Two years later he got 22 goals as Arsenal won their second title under George Graham.
His other greatest moment was the goal in the Cup Winners’ Cup Final of 1994, to win the trophy.
Since retirement he has worked on TV, and for the Daily Telegraph. He is one of those players who private life has remained private, quiet and calm.
- The History of Arsenal – Where Did It All Go Wrong?
- Ted Drake scores in his first Arsenal game: 24 March 1934
- Ray Parlour- Wenger’s linguistic challenge
- Arsenal’s Compton brothers play in semi-final replay 22 March 1950
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal – crowd behaviour at the early matches