Hall of Fame – Darryl Smith

2003 Hall of Fame Inductee – Darryl Ian Smith

Hastings (Mornington Peninsula)
Vice Captain – 1972–76
Captain & Coach – 1977-81 – during this period the Rovers won 3 Premierships, runners-up once and third once.
Senior coaching record: 71 wins, 4 draws and 29 losses
Club Best and Fairest (2) – 1973 and 74
Leading Goal-kicker: 1972 (35 goals)
Senior Premierships: (6) 1972,74, 75,77, 78, 79
Reserves Premierships: 1983
Coach Third XVIII 1983 – 85 (Premiers)
Committee Member: 1985
185 (the best being 6 on three occasions)
Ovens & Murray League representative (7 games – 1972, 76, 80,81)
O & M Captain & Coach: 1980

When Darryl Smith wandered into pre-season training at the Wangaratta Rovers Football Club early in 1972, few could have imagined, including himself, what success was to come the Rovers way in the Seventies, and what a vital role Darryl was to take as both player and coach. Most football supporters have heard of “white line fever”, and former Rovers coach, Ken Boyd was probably a victim. The same could not be said of Darryl Smith who was as unflappable on the field as he was off it. Nevertheless, that laconic, easy-going nature of Darryl that was typified by that especially innocent grin, certainly masked a toughness and determination that was at the core of his approach to football. The fact that he played alongside the likes of Merv Holmes and Andrew Scott must say something about those mighty Hawk teams of the Seventies. As a player Darryl Smith proved to be a jack-of-all-trades in the Rovers teams. He could play in any key position, up forward or in defence, and when required Darryl held his own with the best of the League’s ruckmen. It was, however, at centre half forward that Darryl is best remembered where he often controlled games for the Hawks with that steely aggression that made opponents quake. Darryl provided great support to Neville Hogan as Vice Captain for 5 seasons, so it was little surprise that Smithy had such continuing success when he stepped into the Rovers coaching position from 1977 to 1981. His record of 70% win/loss ratio would sit comfortably in most levels of football. During his 5 years as captain and coach, the Rovers were never out of the Finals, winning three flags, runners-up in 1980 and third the following year. As an individual player Darryl Smith twice won the Club Best and Fairest award and was the leading goal-kicker in his debut season of 1972. But it is as coach and mentor to young players that Darryl’s career will be best remembered. Two examples stand out. At the end of a playing career, when he had nothing left to prove and his best years behind him, Darryl took his place in a Hawks’ Reserves team that won the flag in 1983; can you imagine a better mentor for the young players on the way up? Then on retirement he coached the Thirds for three years including the 1985 flag. Together with his mate, Geoff Welch, Darryl Smith laid the foundations for the Club’s next 20 years with his ability to recruit and coach the consistently best Under 18 teams in the Ovens and Murray. Since then, any kid who lived in and around Wangaratta and reckoned he could play football, made a bee-line for the City Oval based on the reputation that Darryl Smith had forged. Testimony to Darryl’s influence was the successful Rovers teams of the late Eighties and Nineties. Rob Walker, Tony Pasquali, the 3 brothers Wilson, Rick Marklew, Matt Allen, the Yelland brothers Howard and Bruce, Robbie Hickmott, Jason Gorman and so the list goes on of those who came under the football tutelage of Darryl Smith in their initial years with the Rovers. Darryl Smith has now been long gone from the City back to his beloved Mornington Peninsula, although he regularly enjoys his trips back to Wang and especially the City Oval, where he has left the Rovers Club with a legacy that is hard to beat.