Jacky Smith
Jacky Smith
A. Player

probably born in Scotland

John Smith was probably born in Scotland, although his place and date of birth remain unknown to us. *

The midfielder probably joined Thistle in 1888.

He made his first known appearance on Saturday, 10th March, 1888, in a 1-1 friendly draw at home to Airdrieonians.

Amazingly, Jacky scored his only three goals for Thistle in the same match; on Friday, 16th March, 1888, in a 7-1 friendly win at home to County Derry.

He played his last known game for the club on Saturday, 6th August, 1892, in a 5-2 friendly win at home to Celtic, having appeared for the Thistle on at least 69 occasions.

His club-list included Westburn and Partick Thistle.

Jacky died circa 1912, probably in Scotland. *

* If you can help us to improve any of these marked points on The Thistle Archive, then please do get in touch →

Bio Extra

Jacky Smith played at one of Thistle's former grounds, Jordanvale, as a Westburn player in the late 1880s and enjoyed several seasons with Thistle.

According to the official history, he joined Thistle in the springtime of 1888. We're not entirely convinced that's the same Smith as the half-back who played regularly in the next few seasons, but we've went along with it since we've no further evidence either way. The doubt arises from the fact that the guy who played in 6 games March to May 1888 mainly did so as a right back, whereas Jacky Smith was firmly regarded as a right half. The March 1888 hat-trick against Derry seems particularly out of place. Plus, there's an 18 month gap between the right back's last game (5th May 1888) and the half back's first game (9th Nov 1889). There were 7 appearances from then until January 1890, then an another unexplained gap of several months until the next first team appearance in August 1890.

Of course, this could all easily be explained by work commitments or injuries such like, as we've seen from similar proven instances. We know from contemporary accounts that Jacky was employed in the shipbuilding line. Previewing the new season in September 1890, the Scottish Referee analysed the full squad, saying: "The half backs are a strong trio, of whom Cameron in the centre is perhaps the best, although Smith and Proudfoot are not by any way duffers." During 1890-91 there was talk of him leaving for a club in Belfast, but it seems the move did not transpire as Jacky racked up 33 appearances during the season.

Perturbed at the new Scottish Football League to which Thistle had not been invited, Thistle were founder members of the alternative Scottish Alliance League. Jacky was in place for Thistle's first-ever season as a League club, 1891-92. 1,000 turned up to see Ayr versus Partick Thistle - but Jacky did not, much to the annoyance of the committee.

5,000 were at Inchview for the Glasgow Cup tie with Celtic, but that was another occasion when Smith was unable to play for some unexplained reason. The Scottish Referee published some commentary from a Partick Thistle committee member: "We were sorry Smith was unable to play as right half. It would have completed our usual team; but still, we consider D. Freebairn played a capital substitute. It was said West Bromwich was after the former. He is employed in the shipbuilding line. His terms were a shipyard down to begin with. Negotiations are still pending, and we would be sorry to lose him."

Still, despite these setbacks, everything seemed to get smoothed out, and Jacky played 22 times in 1891-92, 15 competitive games and 7 friendlies. With regards to WBA, it seems Jacky could not be persuaded to give up his regular employment. The match secretary kept boxing day reserved for a visit from Queen's Park, whom Thistle had yet to beat on first team terms. "A severe tussle" ensued but Thistle lost again, albeit by just a single goal to none. The Scottish Referee opined: "Smith was the best of the halves, but has a bad habit, like his brother halves, of one time falling back on the backs, and hindering them, and at another, of coming too far forward."

Jacky appeared in the first game of the following season - a 5-2 friendly win over Celtic - but that was the last anyone ever seen of him in the first-team. Two years later, a report surfaced in the Scottish Referee of 20th August 1894: "Partick Thistle have just now a plethora of half-backs in reserve who are capable of stepping into the first eleven, should the present trio not prove capable. Jacky Smith played for the Swifts on Saturday after a year's retirement, and with a little training will be as good as ever."

It's likely that Jacky passed away early in 1912. David Hislop, his old team mate from Westburn and Partick Thistle, also passed away at a similar time and, brilliantly, in April 1912, Thistle and Rangers played a benefit match for the widows of both men, raising a sum of around £100 (about £10,000 in today's money).


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