May 23 2013 Latest news:
by Carl Marston
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
In part two of our seven-part series, we talk to NICKY SMITH, the U’s regular left-back of the triumphant 1991-92 campaign
NICKY Smith only hung up his boots three years ago, after a long career on the left flank, both in the Football League and non-league.
Twenty years ago, the popular Smith, who was to scoop the main player-of-the-year award that season, was an ever-present in the U’s triumphant Conference campaign.
Keeper Scott Barrett was the only other member of Roy McDonough’s squad to play in all 42 league games.
Smith rattled up 55 senior appearances in total, only sitting out the low priority Conference League Cup tie against Wycombe.
“I prided myself on my fitness. That was my strength,” explained Smith.
“I was one of the fittest lads in the squad, which helped with avoiding injuries.
“I used to chug up and down the left flank, all afternoon. Overall, I think it definitely helped that we were full-time, while most of our opposition were part-time.
“We would come on really strong during the last half-hour in games, running rings around teams. They would all just run out of steam, so we were able to score many goals during the final quarter of games.”
Now aged 43, Smith spent four seasons at Colchester, two in the Conference and then two in the Football League.
He later enjoyed a prolonged career in non-league circles, but the U’s landmark season of 1991-92 was easily his best as a footballer.
Playing, and scoring, at Wembley put the icing on the cake.
Smith confirmed: “That was by far my favourite season, obviously winning the double, but also lifting so many of the player-of-the-year awards. It was my dream as a kid to play at Wembley, but to play and score (in the FA Trophy Final) was unbelievable.
“Even now I try to get the kids to watch it on Betamax, but they keep telling me – ‘not again Dad, not again!’ – . I tell them to just watch the first 19 minutes.”
These days, Smith concentrates on his work as a policeman, while also watching his son George and daughter Yasmin continue the family’s footballing tradition.
Yasmin is actually set to pursue a football apprenticeship at college in Chelmsford, after finishing school this summer.
Smith himself was manager of AFC Sudbury for three years, until September, 2011.
He is looking to get involved in club football again, but for the moment is enjoying his role as manager of the England Police team, and the Great Britain Police team. He led the Great Britain team at the European Police Championships in Athens, Greece, last year, with their participation in the tournament ending in familiar fashion – a semi-final defeat to Germany on penalties.
But nothing will compare with the U’s sweet double of 20 years ago, at least in Smith’s eyes.
“They were fantastic times. It was a real experience to play under Big Roy (McDonough), although it wasn’t just Roy, it was collectively the whole team.
“Roy steered the ship, but it was all the lads who got us where we were that day.”