Smith Ernie Image 1 Nottingham Forest 1934

Smith Ernie Image 1 Nottingham Forest 1934


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Shirebrook, Derbyshire born inside forward Ernie Smith started his football career with Sutton Junction in 1930 before joining Second Division Burnley, for whom he made his Football League debut at Manchester United in February 1932. A fringe player at Turf Moor, he scored his only goal in 7 appearances over three seasons in a 4-1 home defeat to Oldham Athletic 10 days after his debut, and joined Nottingham Forest in the 1934 close season. His opportunities at The City Ground were just as limited, he played in a defeat to Bury at Gigg Lane in September  and then scored in the return fixture at The City Ground, another defeat by four goals to one.

He moved to Rotherham United in 1935 for what turned out to be the most successful spell of his career: 115 appearances and an impressive 45 goals in a three-year stay. He netted 22 goals for The Millers in the 1936-37 season finishing as the club’s leading scorer. During his time at Millmoor he also became one of few Millers to score in six consecutive games, a feat achieved between February and March 1937.

Despite his prolific form, Rotherham agreed to allow his transfer to Plymouth Argyle in 1938. Part of the reason would have been finances; United were formed in 1925 from the merger of Rotherham County and Rotherham Town, and the new club’s first two decades were marked by struggling finances and the need to trade and sell players to stay afloat. Smith had actually been spotted by Argyle manager Jack Tresadern during his time as as secretary-manager of Tottenham Hotspur – he had gone to watch another Rotherham player on three occasions but had been impressed by Smith, both for his goal-scoring prowess and also his ability to create chances for others.

A promising start to his career with The Pilgrims – five goals in his first 13 appearances – was cut short when Argyle withdrew from the Football League as a result of the outbreak of the Second World War, although he did return to Home Park at the age of 33 to play a further eight games for Argyle in the wartime Football League South campaign of 1945-46 before retirement.

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