Darby End, near Netherton, Worcestershire born right back Joe Smith played for junior clubs Netherton St Andrew’s in 1907, Darby End Victoria in 1908 and Cradley Heath St Luke’s in 1909 before he signed professional for Second Division club West Bromwich Albion in May 1910, making his Football League debut at Bolton Wanderers that September.
In his debut season West Bromwich Albion won the Second Division Championship, Smith playing 30 League matches, and although he didn’t make the FA Cup Final team that lost to Barnsley in 1912 (he didn’t play in any of the cup ties that season despite being a fixture of the League team). Smith went on to become a defensive stalwart both sides of the First World War, playing 465 times for The Baggies over the next sixteen years (despite four years lost to the War, during which Smith served in the Armed Forces) without ever scoring.
After the War he won the League Championship with Albion in 1919-1920, missing only two matches that season and only 5 matches in the first six seasons after League football resumed in 1919. He was an ever present for The Baggies for the four consecutive seasons between 1921-22 and 1924-25, in the latter Albion finished runners up in the League Championship, except for one match missed in 1922-23.
He was first capped by England against Ireland in a 1-1 draw at Windsor Park, Belfast in October 1919 and won one further cap, also against Ireland in a match played at his home ground, The Hawthorns in October 1922. He also played for England in an unofficial Victory International against Wales at The Victoria Ground, Stoke in October 1919.
In May 1926 he joined Birmingham to provide cover at full back for Frank Womack and Jack Jones, for whom he played a further 50 matches before joining Birmingham & District League club Worcester City as player-manager in 1929, leading them to the league title in his first season. He spent three years there and in 1931-32 they finished as runners-up, losing the title only on goal average, before Smith retired from football at the end of the season.
NB in the photograph Smith comes out from the tunnel behind centre half and captain Sid Bowser, with forward Fred Morris over his right shoulder and, immediately and obscured behind Morris, goalkeeper Hubert Pearson.