"Many happy memories": What the late Jim Smith said about his passion for Sheffield Wednesday and about never becoming Owls manager

Derby County’s Pride Park will rise in applause of one of the club’s most lauded former managers later this evening ahead of the match with Sheffield Wednesday.

By Alex Miller
Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 2:05 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 11:17 pm

The sad loss of Jim Smith yesterday will be keenly felt by home supporters, who will remember six years of football under the man lovingly nicknamed ‘the bald eagle’ that saw the club record two top-ten finishes in the Premier League.

The minute’s applause will no doubt touch the travelling Owls support, too, many of whom will be well aware that Smith, who was 79, was ‘one of their own’ – a lifelong Wednesdayite.

Smith spoke passionately about childhood memories of rushing to Hillsborough from his Shiregreen home as a youth and revealed that Wednesday’s was the result he would look for when he returned from a managerial dugout.

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His youth career was spent at Sheffield United before he went on to a career in England’s lower leagues with Halifax and Boston United.

But it was as a manager that his imprint on the game was deepest, going on to lead clubs such as Newcastle United, Portsmouth and Derby.

Speaking retrospectively on a managerial career that never saw him take the Hillsborough hotseat, Smith said: “On a couple of occasions, in 1983 and 1995, there was some talk of me becoming a candidate for the manager’s job at Wednesday.

“Frankly, as far as I was concerned, it was always speculation, but it was an interesting thought and an intriguing possibility.

There will be a minute's applause in respect to Jim Smith before the match between Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday

“For any genuine Wednesdayite, I suppose becoming manager would be considered the fulfilment of a dream.

“In my case, it didn’t happen – and I’m not complaining because if you’re fated to do it, you will, and obviously, it wasn’t my fate.”

He went on to say: “I can still want the Owls to succeed, and, like thousands of other supporters, I know nobody can take away the many happy memories watching Wednesday has given me.

“I can even forgive them when they spoil my day as a visiting manager, although, to be honest, that hasn’t happened very often!”