All at Brentford Football Club were saddened to learn of the death of Alan Smith. One of our oldest surviving players, and one of the last alive to have played for The Bees in the top flight of English football, Alan, (bottom row, fifth from the left above) died on Monday, 27 May, aged 97.
Born in Newcastle in 1921, Alan joined Arsenal when he was demobbed from the Army in May 1946 and was given an early chance to show his pace down the left wing in place of Gunners legend Cliff Bastin. However, he failed to hold down a starting spot and moved to Griffin Park that December after just three appearances.
He broke straight into the starting XI and started Brentford's next 14 matches in all competitions. His first goal came on Boxing Day, during a 2-1 victory over Sheffield United, and he added two more strikes before his season abruptly ended at the start of March. Brentford endured a torrid run-in, winning just one of the last 17 games, and were relegated.
Alan would have to wait more than two years for his next First Team appearance, spending that time playing for the club’s reserves. Smith scored once in three matches at the end of the 1948/49 Division Two season, with his 17th and final Brentford appearance coming away at Blackburn in May 1949. Smith left Brentford that summer and joined Leyton Orient as part of the deal which saw Reg Newton move west to join The Bees.
After football, Alan spent six months working in a Uranium mine in Canada before returning to London. He worked as a painter and decorator and spent time working for the London Electricity Board. Along with his wife Joan, who he met during the Second World War, he was a medal-winning ballroom dancer. Never forgetting his roots in football, Alan would also teach children football in the park behind his house during his spare time. In his later life, Alan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alan is survived by two daughters, Vivian and Diane, five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
All at Brentford send their condolences to his family and friends at this time.