Burbage, Leicestershire born centre half Percy Smith started his playing career with Hinckley Town in 1901 before joining Preston in June 1902, making his Football League debut against Woolwich Arsenal the same September. A centre forward in his early seasons, he scored a hat-trick in his debut season against Burslem Port Vale in February 1903, notching 17 goals and finishing as Preston’s top League scorer with 16 goals. In 1903-04 he again top scored with 26 goals as Preston were promoted to the First Division as Second Division runners up, a total that included a hat-trick at Leicester Fosse in February 1904. He then helped Preston to finish as League Championship runners up in 1905-06, remaining as a key member of Preston’s team until he joined Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers in May 1910 after 95 goals in 256 appearances.
At Ewood Park he enjoyed considerable success, being a fixture in their League Championship triumphs of 1912 and 1914. He was also part of their 1911 and 1912 FA Cup semi final teams that lost respectively to eventual winners Bradford City at Bramall Lane, and then to West Bromwich Albion, where they again went down at Bramall Lane, this time in extra time in a replay after two goalless draws over 90 minutes at Anfield and in the replay. He continued as a regular in Rovers’ team until the advent of the First World War forced the suspension of peacetime football in 1915, but after the conflict he resumed with Blackburn Rovers, making 15 more appearances in the first peacetime season before joining non league Fleetwood in the summer of 1920 after 6 goals in 193 appearances for Rovers.
He returned to Football League action with Barrow in October 1921, making the final 5 appearances of his playing career for them during October and November, before turning his attention to coaching and management. His first management position came in July 1925 when he was appointed manager of Nelson, and after two seasons he was appointed as manager of First Division Bury in May 1927. However after Bury were relegated in 1929 he left to become manager of Tottenham Hotspur in January 1930. At Spurs he achieved modest success, guiding the team to the runners-up position in Division Two in 1933, thereby gaining promotion to the First Division. The team finished third place in the First Division in 1934. In the following season, injuries to players such as Willie Hall, and Arthur Rowe left the team weakened and at the bottom of the table by April 1935. Smith then resigned, claiming that the club’s directors had interfered with his team selection. In July 1935 he joined Notts County as manager, laying the foundations of a team that would finish 2nd in the Third Division (North) in 1936-37. However in October 1936 he joined Bristol Rovers, where he stayed a year as manager in what would prove his final post before retiring from the game.