It’s been quite a story for a former promising Arsenal youngster who went on to a career in teaching and eventually that of an autobiographical author – via Yeovil and Crawley as we profile Ben Smith for our ‘Foot in Both Camps’ feature.
‘Smudger’ began with the youth system at Highbury and played an integral part of their youth team alongside the likes of Paola Vernazza and Jason Crowe who, like Ben, would go onto to have a successful football career.
Smith, a box-to-box midfielder would move onto Reading for his first taste of the first team environment.
Despite playing just once in the senior side – away at Manchester City – he gained valuable experience and his next move would bring him to Huish Park.
In the summer of 1998 he moved to Somerset where he would find himself for the next four years.
Across his spell at Huish Park he would go onto play nearly 150 times.
His role in midfield ensured he played a vital role in the number of years that the Glovers tried to get out of the Conference under managers Colin Addison and David Webb.
Vital goals and performances just about any supporter would appreciate have ensured that his time at Yeovil will live long in the memory of those who saw him play.
Despite injuries and even being transfer listed at one point, his level of play never dropped and his final tally of games probably didn’t reflect his importance to the side and the foundations he and his squad members lay for the following years.
His time at Yeovil is documented in full in his new book – Journeyman. It tells tales of his contract negotiations, his injuries and his time spent as Terry Skiverton’s landlord.
Following Yeovil, he went to Southend to play under David Webb again before joining Hereford United where he achieved cult hero status with success over two years and over 50 games.
Shrewsbury and Weymouth followed before returning to Edgar Street for a second spell where he cemented his place in the club’s history.
He would captain the side on many occasions as well as lead them to promotion from League Two.
It was after that second spell at Hereford that Crawley came in for the midfield man.
Steve Evans snapped up Smith on an initial one year deal, but that was soon turned into a second year after a campaign that saw Smith not only top the appearance charts but also second on their list of goal scorers.
More time at Crawley was on the cards, but when a couple of loan spells back into non-league saw Smith edged out of the first team picture at Broadfield Stadium.
During the final few years of his career in the football league, Smith had been doing a degree in business management and despite part time offers and short term deals he had a back-up plan.
His autobiography, released earlier this year, details how a venture in to teaching went badly and getting away from the game was harder and harder to come to terms with.
Smith turned to pen and paper and penned his book – Journeyman – an autobiographical tale of a lower league footballer.
From being released to playing on one of the grandest stages of all – Old Trafford.
All of this and much, much more can be found by clicking HERE to be taken to the amazon purchase page for Smith’s book.
Two of his former employees – and two of the sides with most of the anecdotes in the book – clash this Saturday.
Tickets for anyone travelling to the game are available on the day and Paul Sturrock’s men need all the support they can get both on the road and at home – click HERE to buy tickets for all Yeovil’s upcoming home games.