West Stanley, County Durham born outside right Joe “Stanley” Smith (his nickname was a reference to his birthplace) started his football career with West Stanley in 1904 before joining Second Division Hull City in September 1905 for £10 during their inaugural League campaign, for whom he made his Football League debut against Burton United on the last day of September. He scored 16 goals in his debut season, topping the club’s scoring charts, as The Tigers finished a creditable fifth in the Second Division. He continued to be a key man in the Hull attack for the next six seasons, all spent in the Second Division, until he was sold to First Division Everton in February 1912 after 52 goals in 231 appearances for Hull City.
However he struggled to get into the first eleven at Goodison Park, making 8 appearances in the remainder of the 1911-12 as Everton finished as League Championship runners up, but playing only twice in 1912-13, before he joined Irish League Belfast Distillery in 1913. While with Distillery he won inter league honours when he represented The Irish League twice in October 1913, both matches, against The Football League at Solitude in Belfast, and The Southern League at Dalymount Park, Dublin, ending in defeats. He returned to Football League action with Second Division Bury joining them in December 1913, immediately making his debut against Notts County, and scoring once in 59 appearances before peacetime football was suspended due to the advent of the First World War. After the War he returned to play for West Stanley in 1919.