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Trevor Francis (Birmingham City squad) This profile appears at BBC SPORT BIRMINGHAM CITY Francis' management blues following his departure from Birmingham this month.
Career League Appearances Only
Name any bone
in the body and the chances are that Denis Smith probably
broke it in the service of Stoke City.
A colleague of
Mel Pejic at the Staffordshire club, he actually was
injured when our current physio made his one and only
league appearance for the Potters in 1980.
He ended his playing career at the Victoria Ground in 1982 and moved on to become a successful manager with York City.
Having joined York City on loan for the end of the 1981/82 season, he started the next campaign as player/manager at Bootham Crescent. At the end of his second year in charge, Denis had led the Minstermen to promotion as Division Four champions with a massive 101 points and a goal difference of +57!
Indeed, promotion was wrapped up in early April, as runners up Doncaster Rovers finished fully 16 points adrift. Top league scorer was John Bryne on 27, while strike partner Keith weighed in with another 25. In midfield was Malcolm Crosby, who was later to have a short loan spell at the Racecourse and also served Denis as assistant manager on no less than four separate occasions.
Having established York as a Third Division club, Sunderland came calling and in June 1987 Denis was off to Roker Park. The Wearsiders had just been relegated from Division Two but the new manager needed only one season to restore some pride to the famous north-east club.
By the end of 1987/88 they topped Division Three having led from the front since the previous October. A 2-0 home defeat to Chester had been the turning point, as Marco Gabbiadini then arrived from York and went on to top the scoring charts with 23 league goals, playing up front alongside Eric Gates. While in defence was another former Minsterman in John MacPhail, who also joined in the summer of 1987, having been at Bristol City in between.
The bandwagon rolled on to another promotion season on 1989/90, although it came about in very unusual circumstances. Having finished the year in sixth spot, they entered the play-offs with a two legged semi-final against neighbours Newcastle United.
A 0-0 draw at Roker Park reflected the two draws recorded during the regular season, but on a special night at St.James' Park it was Sunderland who triumphed 2-0 and progressed to a final date with Swindon Town at Wembley. The hordes that travelled to London were to be disappointed on the day, when a deflected shot beat Mancot born keeper Tony Norman in their goal, yet the story was to take a strange twist just weeks later.
It emerged that Swindon had made illegal payments to their players, admitting to 36 charges, and after much legal wrangling they were eventually demoted back to the Second Division, with Sunderland taking their place in the top league!
Back in the First Division after five years away, it was unfortunate, if not unexpected, that the Rokermen struggled, but it still came down to a final day defeat at Manchester City, while Luton Town won at home to bottom club Derby County and so leap frogged Sunderland to safety.
With the men from Roker Park occupying a mid table position the following Christmas, Denis left the club. While they made it all the way to Wembley in that season's FA Cup, it did take the Wearsiders a further four years, and four managers, before they finally arrived in the Premier League.
Denis then had a 15 months wait before his next job in a hot seat, taking over at Bristol City in March 1993, following on from Jimmy Lumsden, but a year later and with the Robins in mid table of the First Division he was replaced by Russell Osman. This was not the Ashton Gate club's best move, as a season on they were relegated and followed that with three more years in Division Two.
Seven months after leaving Bristol City, Denis signed on with Oxford United. The U's went down that season but he guided them to a seventh place finish in 1995 and then promotion in 1996, as runners up behind Swindon. They edged ahead of Blackpool at the last moment, with a dramatic late run that saw six wins and one draw in their last seven games, while the Pool managed only one win their last seven matches!
Back in Division One, the U's finished 17th in 1997 and while occupying a similar placing the following Christmas, Denis left his position for the manager's job with West Bromwich Albion. Where one of his first tasks was to turn Lee Hughes into the Baggies starting striker and even though the flame haired forward scored nine times in the second half of the season, the team finished 10th.
In 1998/99 the Baggies were well in contention for a play-off berth right up until the March, when a run of just one win their last 10 games saw them slip back down the table. Hughes had knocked in 31 goals that year, although the lack of support from anyone else, DeFreitas was next on seven, hardly helped Smith's cause. He left that summer to be followed by Brian Little, with the club slipping to within one place of relegation by that season's end.
One signing he made at the Hawthorms turned out to be good bit of business and that was young Italian player Enzo Maresca, who was later sold to Juventus for 3m pounds!
Denis had a few months to himself before returning to Oxford United for a second time in February 2000. The U's had been relegated from Division One the previous summer and looked to be heading for a second consecutive drop, but he was able to steady the ship enough to stay up, thanks to a win over Scunthorpe United on the penultimate Saturday of the season.
Behind the scenes problems at the Manor Ground more than played their part in Oxford's poor start to the 2000/01 campaign, meaning a departure for Denis just a week before Wrexham visited and secured an amazing 4-3 win, but at the expense of a broken leg for Steve Roberts.
Now a year and week later, Denis returns to football management as the new boss of the Red Dragons.
Bobby Howe (West Ham United) Jim Ross the site's US
For anyone who has not yet been there, the ultimate 'Where are they now ?' site has got to www.askgreaves.com Compiled by Andy Pringle and Neil Fissler, it is the natrual progression of the book that saw two editions in the Nineties. A recent visit to the site came up with the following updates relevant to Bob's 70-71 Pages...
(I've not been able to link them up just yet, but here's a preview of the players ...)
Micky Mellows. Reading, Portsmouth. (1970-1977). Now lives in Portsmouth where he runs an annual international tournament for kids and sets up Sports Tours.
Gordon Milne. Preston, Liverpool, Blackpool (1956-1969). A successful manager in England, Japan and Turkey had a spell as Chief Executive of the League Managers Association, is currently Newcastle United's Director of Football.
Peter Silvester. Reading, Norwich, Colchester, Southend, Reading, Blackburn, Cambridge U. (1966-1977) Now lives in Norwich where he sells insurance and is married to the sister of former team mate Roger Smee.
Colin Sinclair. Raith Rovers, Darlington, Hereford, Newport Co. (1968-1978) Is now back living in Scotland where he is a successful hotelier.
Roger Smee. Chelsea, Reading, (1966-1973) Went onto to become Chairman of The Royals and was successful businessman in the town but is now a property dealer in Florida.
Rod Thomas. Swindon, Derby, Cardiff, Newport. (1965-1981). After retiring in 1981 he has been working for Francis Lee's paper company for a while ran a pub near Stroud in Gloucestershire now works for a company that supplies software to finance houses.
John Trollope. Swindon (1960-1980) Ran the Youth team at the County Ground, until mid 1996, but is now working for the Football League for whom he monitors youth development in the Southwest and West Midlands.
Barry Wagstaff. Sheff U, Reading, Rotherham. (1964-1976) Is now a part time time at Barnsley's Centre of Excellence.
Mike Walker. Reading, Shrewsbury, York, Watford, Charlton, Colchester U. (1963-1982). Started his management career as reserve team boss at Norwich before taking control of the first team, left for Everton only to return to Carrow Road after starting his own skip hire company is now managing Apoel Nicosia in Cyprus.
Willie Wallace. Stenhousemuir, Raith, Hearts, Celtic, Crystal Palace, Dumbarton (1958-1972) Moved to Australia after his playing days were over, coached two local sides in Sydney, Apia and Leichhardt, worked for a sportsware company in Mount Druitt now Director of Coaching of a team in Brisbane, Queensland where he is also scouts for Celtic.
Bobby Williams. Bristol C, Rotherham, Bristol R, Reading. (1958-1970). Is now working for a petrochemical copany after earning a living as a courier, worked with the Reading youth team for many years and is now a scout.
Eric Winstanley. Barnsley, Chesterfield (1961-1976). Was on the coaching staff of Barnsley and is now Football in Community officer at Burnley.
Bobby Woodruff. Swindon, Wolves, Crystal Palace, Cardiff, Newport. Is currently living in Cardiff.
Charlie Woods. Newcastle, Bournemouth, C Palace, Ipswich, Watford, Colchester. (1960-1971). Held a number of posts with Ipswich Town before becoming chief scout at Spurs, has since moved onto a similar post at Newcastle United.
Tommy Youlden. Arsenal, Portsmouth, Reading, Aldershot. (1966-1980) Is now living in Surbition and is coaching part time at Chelsea and works as a PE and Maths teacher.
See more October 2001 news at the following ...
|Bob Dunning 18 October 2001||
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