Aldershot Town and Boston United have paid tribute to former Derby County, Newcastle United and Oxford United boss Jim Smith following his death at the age of 79.
Tributes poured in for Smith from across football on Tuesday afternoon following his passing in hospital. Alongside a number of his former clubs, both the Shots and Pilgrims released statements remembering their former player and manager as a legendary figure.
Smith, known throughout football as the ‘Bald Eagle’, managed nine different clubs and was at the helm for more than 1,500 games over a 49-year career in football.
As a player he represented Aldershot, Boston United, Colchester Town, Halifax Town, Lincoln City and Sheffield United before moving into management at Boston as player-manager in 1969.
His Pilgrims sides never finished outside of the top four, conceding just three home league goals in the 1969-70 campaign. Boston were 40 games into an unbeaten run of 51 when he left to join Colchester United in 1972.
Most notably in his 38-year career in management, he led Derby County to promotion from the old First Division in 1996, taking them to the Premiership for the first time.
A master of promotions, he also helped Colchester United and Birmingham City to climb divisions before transforming Oxford into a top-flight side.
The Shots said: “We are extremely saddened to hear the tragic news that former Shots player Jim Smith has passed away aged 79.
“The former Shot was a true legend of English football and our greatest condolences go out to the Smith family in this moment in time.
CLUB STATEMENT: We are extremely saddened to hear the tragic news that former Shots player Jim Smith has passed away aged 79.
The former Shot was a true legend of English football and our greatest condolences go out to the Smith family in this moment in time.
— Aldershot Town FC (@OfficialShots) December 10, 2019
Boston United, who posted a picture of Smith with his championship winning squad, said: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of former Pilgrims’ player and manager Jim Smith, who has died at the age of 79.”
We are saddened to hear of the passing of former Pilgrims’ player and manager Jim Smith, who has died at the age of 79: pic.twitter.com/bRd3oTnuoc
— Boston United (@bostonunited) December 10, 2019
League Managers Association chairman and former Leeds United boss Howard Wilkinson said: “I have so many fond memories of Jim as a football manager but foremost as a friend.
“Jim and I have known each other since our teenage years, and I have been in his debt since the day he asked me to become player-coach at Boston United, where I served my apprenticeship.
“He was intelligent, passionate, determined, honest and always great fun to be with. Never one to mince his words, he was a leader in the truest sense.”
Images courtesy of YouTube and @bostonunited/@OfficialShots/Twitter