(Jack Smith, left, playing for North Ferriby United vs Stockport County in the National League North in the 17/18 season)
From amateur football to the National League in two years is a big jump for any player, but North Ferriby United youngster Jack Smith has taken it in his stride. Smith was one of the shining lights of a disappointing relegation to the Evo-Stik Premier for Ferriby last season and the defender has fought hard to be where he is today.
From an early age, Smith always loved sport and his dad was a role model for him. “My dad brought me into football. He used to play for a club (Boston United) and it’s just grown from there really. I was always into sport, but I think a decision had to be made whether it was football or rugby and to be honest I chose football, because it was the one I enjoyed the most.” Even though his dad was a striker, Smith claims to be a better footballer and a smarter one, regarding starting a fight.
With Smith choosing football over rugby, he had to sign for a club and kept it local. “It was always local for when I started so it was North Cave, which my dad coached and then I moved to bigger clubs obviously to try and step up a level, so it was Hull United, which was my major youth club. That was from the U15’s to U16’s and that’s what kind of stepped me up from there into men’s football.”
A majority of players in the 2018/19 North Ferriby United squad came from Hull United, but Smith has National League experience after signing for Guiseley for the 2016/17 season. “It was advertised on Twitter and I wanted to try and challenge myself a bit and I felt that these open trials offered by Guiseley were a good opportunity for me, so I got in contact with the Head of Recruitment there and he offered me a trial and a couple of weeks down the line, I signed a two-year deal.” Smith had it tough though, having to fight off other players to earn his contract. “There was players from Leeds and the surrounding West Yorkshire area, some talented footballers, but luckily enough I worked hard enough to get in.” When reviewing his time at Guiseley, Smith had nothing but praise for the West Yorkshire and then National League side. “We trained every day, you know the facilities were great, the coaching staff were brilliant and the lads were just top class, real good footballers and I really enjoyed my time there.”
Smith represented three clubs the following season, starting at Goole AFC, after his release from Guiseley. “I got offered to go and train for Goole in the pre-season. I did quite well in pre-season and I was hopeful to get a first team position in the team, but unfortunately I just didn’t fit the manager’s prospects for the season.” A move to East Yorkshire Carnegie gave Smith some much needed game time and that all came from a familiar face, another player now in the Ferriby squad. “Basically, a mate, Josh Walker. He asked me to come along training and it just went from there really. I’d played the rest, until I signed for Ferriby, of the season and it was just a really good opportunity for me to play a decent standard and still get some minutes.”
(Smith, far right, playing for Ferriby v Stockport County)
Those minutes proved to be essential as Chris Bolder took the decision to take the defender on a trial basis during the back end of the 17/18 season. “For them (Chris Bolder and Paul Robson) to turn around to turn to me and say “I want you to sign on” was amazing like a great opportunity to play at some top clubs notably FC United of Manchester, the last game of the season where we won 2-0, you know playing in front of 3,000 people is unbelievable. From starting the season from basically nothing to playing like that is kind of relieving knowing you’re doing the right stuff of hard work.”
Bolder and Robson gave Smith his chance, something that he’s always thankful for. “I think they’re the best coaches I’ve had so far and you know their understanding of your actual self and the private talks they have with you and all they want to do is develop you. They’re not there for the self-success. They just want to develop you as a player and to get you to the highest level you can.” Furthermore, with Robson being a fellow player and a defender, Smith says he always gives him advice. “When we do play defence, he does give me advice when I do need it. I can listen to him and gain vital information off him and progress myself as a player.”
The young defender however had to fight for his place within the side. Competition from Jack Walters and Kojo Kyei stood between a first-team spot for Smith, however he said he always learned from the pair of them. “Jack Walters, class player. He was always someone to copy off. He was a good player. The manager said about his quality on and off the ball and his defending, but then Kojo as well is class. He was just a little older than me and they were just really good competition and it kinda keeps you motivated to keep working hard so it was really good.”
(Jack Walters (Left, challenging against York City’s Jon Parkin), who now plays for Tadcaster Albion, was Smith’s main rival for the starting left-back spot along with Kojo Kyei)
Now, Smith is going into his first pre-season with Ferriby and the youngster is enjoying every minute of it. “I’m ecstatic to be fully going into pre-season with a real good squad. Hopefully we can carry on this and progress and keep it onto the season.” Smith also scored his first goal for Ferriby, against his former club Goole AFC. Rising above the keeper, after a lofted ball from Eddie Rogerson, Smith headed in his first goal for the club, something he’ll never forget, mainly for the Alan Shearer celebration. “I’ve had a bit of stick from the lads but it’s all fine yeah, so I don’t think that one will come out anymore” Smith joked. You can see it below now:
His aspirations isn’t a joking matter for Smith who made it clear what he wanted this season, individually and as a team. “I think what I want to do is cement a place in the starting eleven and keep working hard and hopefully as a team we can progress and do the best we can this season. Who’s to say we can bounce straight back and get promoted again?”
Finally, Smith ended with what he wanted to do with his career. “I do want to progress, because you know it’s been from playing under 16’s Sunday League to National League in space of two years so hopefully I can progress a bit more, hopefully to a professional standard and that is my intention.”
(Me and Smith (Right) after the interview at Burstalls Solicitors Office in Hull)
Listen to the full interview here: