Sam Smith set to retire

Workington supporters have suffered one body blow after another this season and the latest is the announcement that cultured defender Sam Smith will play his final game for the Club on Saturday.

It is only recently that we learned, officially, that Conor Tinnion and Scott Allison intended to step down at the end of the current campaign, now we have another Reds stalwart making his way to the ‘departure lounge’.

And whilst it was generally accepted that Conor and Scott had hinted at retirement over the last few months, the news about Sam comes as a bombshell.

Indeed, the decision to retire by Sam has only filtered through in the last forty-eight hours and, sadly, isn’t even mentioned in Saturday’s match day programme.

Sam Smith

“This has been an unbelievably tough decision for me to make but I will be leaving Reds at the end of the season which, obviously, is after the Guiseley game at the weekend,” said an emotional Smith.

“From a sixteen-year-old in the Reserves and eleven fantastic seasons in the first team, including captaining my boyhood club in a NPL Play-off Final, the journey has been memorable and I wouldn’t change any of it.

“I would like to thank the many players I have lined-up alongside, the managers I have worked under, the Board and the Workington supporters but, most of all, my family who have been there throughout all the ups and downs this game throws at you.

“I have made some wonderful friends, special people who will be friends for life.

“I wish the club every bit of success going forward and hope there are many more Workington lads who can go on a similar journey to me.  Now I look forward to just being a fan of this great club – which I always have been.”

Sam made his first team bow in a pre-season friendly at Barrow with his official debut at Hednesford Town in an FA Trophy tie back in November, 2013.  Twin brother Jake joined him on the pitch for the final twenty minutes of that game as a substitute.

He has since played in the Lancashire League, FA Youth Cup, National North, Northern Premier League, FA Cup, FA Trophy, various cup competitions and play-off matches and the Cumberland Cup which he helped retain on Tuesday.

It is quite poignant that his retirement should come days after both Reds and the Carlisle United players paid tribute to the late Fred Conway prior to kick-off at the Borough Park final.  Fred made no secret of the fact that Sam was, by far, his favourite Workington player.

Danny Grainger was quick to start the tributes for Smith, 31 next month.

“Sam is another one of the core-group I feel privileged and fortunate to have been able to coach as part of my team.  He is a natural leader, demands high standards and will always give 100%.

“The partnership Sam and Goose had in central defence was, in my eyes, one of the best around non-league and a huge part of the success we have enjoyed in recent years.  Whatever he decides to do next, I’m sure he will make a success of it.

“Workington Reds supporters will be gutted to see him leave as he is one of their favourites and he will certainly deserve all the plaudits that come his way.

“I need to thank him face to face for everything he has done for me and the team because, not only as a player but a person too, he is one of the best.”

The outgoing manager concluded, “He should be proud of everything he has done and I’m sure his family will be too.  Good luck on your ‘next steps’, Sam.”

A former ‘Young Player of the Year’, Sam dominated the Awards Evening two years ago collecting a hat-trick of trophies after topping the votes of team mates and supporters alike.

He has made 284 starts for the first team in competitive action and named a substitute on a further 77 occasions, scoring 25 goals in the process.

Sam will line up alongside fellow legends, Conor Tinnion and Scott Allison for one last time on Saturday and kitman Phil will have to find three captain’s armbands for what will be a very emotional afternoon!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.
Don`t copy text!