It was a couple of seasons ago when Gregg Smith self-titled himself as a ‘horrible footballer’ as he fought his way back into contention at Boston United after a long injury layoff.
Two years later, after spells at Tamworth, Stamford, King’s Lynn Town and Newark Flowserve, Smith is now settling in to life at Gainsborough Trinity – and with it, a relegation scrap under manager Curtis Woodhouse.
Used to people giving him the cold shoulder because of his playing style, Smith insists he uses any negative assumptions about him as fuel to improve.
“I’m a bit like Marmite – you love me when I’m in your team, but you hate me when I’m coming up against you,” he said.
“For a big lad I’m quite noticeable. I get called fat and other stuff wherever I go but it’s never bothered me. I’ve always had a good relationship with the fans, and I think that’s because I wear my heart of my sleeve.
“I’ve managed to make a name for myself in non-league football, so I think there’s probably more pressure on me. People don’t expect much of me when I first turn up because of the size of me so I think sometimes I have to work harder to win people round. I’ve been a big lad for most of my career and I haven’t changed much.”
After four goals in his last five games, Smith has helped Trinity hit a bit of a purple patch. Unbeaten in eight games after Saturday’s win over Atherton Collieries, the club find themselves four points clear of the drop zone.
And although he isn’t sure where he will be playing after this season, Smith predicts a bright future for his current employers under Curtis Woodhouse.
“I didn’t know much about him [Curtis Woodhouse] before I met him,” Smith said. “I’d heard of him but didn’t know what he managed like.
“He called me when I was still at Newark Flowserve and asked me to be his main man here and I don’t want to let him down. We can’t look too far ahead but with him and the squad here, there’s no reason why things can’t be much different next season.”
“The gaffer has started a bit of a revival and that is something we need to continue now,” he continued. “You have to keep it simple when you’re at the lower end of the table and just focus on yourself and winning as many games of football as you can.
“I’ve been lucky to play for some big clubs. I had a great spell at Boston and then Tamworth and met some incredible people along the way. I don’t know where I will be next season but one thing you can guarantee from me is that I will always work hard and try to do my best for whoever I’m playing for.”
PHOTO CREDIT – JOHN RUDKIN (GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY)