Gary Smith Biography

Boro Manager:  25th January 2012 to 20th March 2013

Playing Career

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© The Comet

Gary was a schoolboy at Arsenal before joining Fulham’s Youth Academy in 1983.  He spent 4 years at Craven Cottage making just 1 first team appearance for the London outfit in the 1985/1986 season.

Gary moved on to Colchester United in November 1987 making 12 appearances in total for the Essex club before being released at the end of the 1987/88 season.

After a very brief appearance at Enfield – 1 game, Gary joined Wycombe Wanderers where he was to have the most successful spell in his playing career turning out 66 times for the then Conference club scoring 4 goals from midfield in the process.  Gary suffered a number of injuries towards the end of his spell at the Chairboys, most notably a compound leg fracture.

Gary spent an uneventful spell at Welling during the 1992/93 season before returning to League football with Barnet.  Gary spent 2 season with the Bees, 1993/94 and 1994/95, but injuries continued to dog him and he only managed 14 appearances during that period.

Gary had a further 2 seasons at Aylesbury United 1995/1996, 1996/1997 playing 48 times in total.  Injuries remained a big factor in Gary’s playing career with 43 of these appearances occurring in the 1995/96 season.

In April 1997 Gary made the difficult decision to retire from playing at the age of 27.

Managerial Career:

Team Position Year
Wycombe Wanderers Youth Team Coach 2004
Watford Assistant Academy Manager Jun 2005
Watford Reserve Team Coach / U18 Academy Manager Jul 2005
Arsenal Scout 2007
Colorado Rapids Arsenal Liaison Officer Feb 2008
Colorado Rapids Head Coach Nov 2008
Stevenage FC Manager Jan 2012

Managerial Honours:

  • MLS Cup (2010)

 

Pre-Boro

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© The Comet

Gary started his non-playing football career with Wimbledon at the age of 28, attaining his UEFA ‘A’ license at the age of 30.

The ex- Arsenal captain, Tony Adams offered Gary the chance to assume the role of Youth Team Coach at Wycombe Wanderers in 2004.  Gary temporarily was appointed Assistant Manager to caretaker Manager Keith Ryan when Tony Adams parted company with Wycombe in November 2004.

During the 2005/2006 pre-season, Gary was offered the role of Assistant Academy Manager at Championship side Watford and within two months was promoted to Reserve Team Coach and under 18’s Academy Manager.

Gary Joined MLS side Colorado Rapids in February 2008 originally to establish Arsenal’s Academy. However he quickly rose through the ranks eventually being appointed Head Coach in November 2008.

Gary steered the Rapids to a creditable 9th placed finish in the 2009 campaign, just missing out on the MLS play offs with Real Salt Lake (RSL) taking the last spot on goal difference.

The following 2010 season  he steered the Rapids to the MLS  Play off finals, beating FC Dallas in the final  2-1  after extra time to win the MLS Cup.  The victory meant that Gary had guided the Rapids to their first MLS Cup Championship, and also the first major trophy in the club’s history. Gary also became the first English coach to win the MLS Cup championship.

In the 2011 season, Gary could not emulate his success of the previous year finishing in 6th spot in the League, eventually losing 4-0 on aggregate to Sporting Kansas City in the Conference Semi Finals.

Shortly after this game, Colorado announced that they had opted against renewing Gary’s contract at the end of the 2011 season.

Boro

2011/2012 season

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© The Comet

Gary was appointed Manager of Stevenage FC on 25th January 2012 following the departure of the previous incumbent, Graham Westley to Preston North End.

It was a difficult situation for the new manager as the team was in good shape with Gary commenting on his appointment “This team is on such a good run, there isn’t an awful lot I want to change about the group.  I hope I can be a support for some of the guys and point them in a direction if needed”.

In League 1, his first League game was away at Sheffield Wednesday on Valentine’s Day and it turned out to be love at first sight with a creditable 1-0 victory at Hillsborough courtesy of a Scott Laird goal.

League wins then proved via hard for Boro to come by.  In the next 13 games, Boro only won 1 game, a Tuesday night home win against Oldham Athletic 1-0, Lawrie Wilson the scorer that night.

The saving grace for Gary was although Boro were not winning they weren’t losing either , racking up 9 draws during this period-Huddersfield (h),Exeter City (a), Chesterfield (h), Hartlepool (a), Colchester (h), Walsall (a), Bournemouth(h), Wycombe Wanderers (h) and Graham Westley’s Preston North End (h).

Two away losses at Notts County and Charlton complete the picture for this period.

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© The Comet

This run of form left Stevenage in ninth position, and six points behind the Play-Off places with just five games remaining.  The last 5 games were pivotal and saw Boro reach the League 1 play-offs at the first time of asking.

A 0-6 thumping of Yeovil Town on the road started the last series of games, followed by two all important wins over fellow play-off contenders Carlisle United and Brentford in front of the Lamex faithful 1-0 and 2-1 respectively.  A creditable 2-2 draw against Sheffield United set up the final game of the season against Bury at home.  A game Boro won 3-0 to secure their place in the play-offs on goal difference, at the expense of Notts County.

Boro were narrowly knocked out at the Semi Final stage after a close, absorbing if not spectacular double header against Sheffield United, 1-0 on aggregate, with the decisive goal coming late in the 86th minute of the 2nd leg at Bramall Lane.

In the FA Cup Gary guided Boro to the 5th round.  His first game in charge of Boro was the home tie in the 4th Round against Notts County which Boro won in a tightly fought, ugly encounter courtesy of an own goal.

Boro had a dream home draw in the 5th round against North London giants, Tottenham Hotspur.  A close encounter at the Lamex remained goalless to set up a memorable replay at White Hart Lane.  Despite taking the lead via a Joel Byrom penalty, Boro Left the competition on the wrong end of a 3-1 score line despite a display full of pride and passion.

2011/2012 end of season report – A good half season from Gary securing a play–off berth and guiding Boro into a lucrative 5th round against Spurs.  A good result considering the upheaval of losing a successful manager part way through the season

2012/2013 Season

Gary was not to see a whole season out in the Boro hot seat , parting company with the club after a loss at Bury 2-0 on the road on March 19th 2013.

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© The Comet

In League 1 Boro started the season extremely well despite losing 15 players in the pre-season.  Boro went on an 11 match unbeaten run winning 6 games – Leyton Orient (a), Oldham Athletic (a), Coventry City (a), Walsall (h), Notts County (a) Scunthorpe (h) and drawing 5 games – Carlisle United (h), Shrewsbury Town (h), Crewe Alexander (h) Doncaster Rovers (a) and Bury (h).

Whilst this sequence was broken with a 0-1 reverse on the road to Colchester United, following a 2-1 victory over Portsmouth in late October at the Lamex, Boro reached the dizzy heights of 2nd in League 1.

However, this proved to be a false dawn as Boro were defeated heavily in three of their next four matches, conceding four goals in each of the three losses against  Swindon Town (0-4), Preston North End (1-4) and Sheffield United (4-1).

From December 2012 onwards, Boro went on to lose 14 out of their following 18 league games, including a run of six straight defeats.

Towards the end of Gary’s tenure home wins against Brentford (1-0) and Sheffield United (4-0) pushed Boro closer to League 1 safety, but a 2-0 away loss against relegation candidates Bury was the final straw for the Boro Board who relieved Gary of his duties the following day.

© The Comet

© The Comet

Phil Wallace Boro’s Chairman said at the time “After a very promising start with a new squad, we have slipped alarmingly and the Board are concerned that the present management team may be unable to deliver the clubs vision of increasing attendances and developing players in a winning environment.”

In the FA Cup Boro didn’t make it past the first round losing 3-2 on the road to Rotherham.

In the Capital One Cup Boro beat AFC Wimbledon in a fine display 3-1 at the Lamex.  Boro were knocked out in the 2nd Round after failing to repeat the trick losing 1-4 at home to premiership Southampton.

In the Johnstone Paint Trophy – Boro completed a dismal run in cup competitions losing 3-2 on the road to Dagenham and Redbridge in round 1.

Gary’s Boro Record in Numbers

2011/12

2012/13

Total

League 1 Games

19

39

58

Win

6

14

20

Draw

10

7

17

Loss

3

18

21

Total points

28

49

77

Points per game avg

1.47

1.25

1.32

Percentage Win

31.50%

35.80%

34.50%

2011/12

2012/13

Total

League 1 Play-Off games

2

0

2

Win

0

0

0

Draw

1

0

1

Loss

1

0

1

2011/12

2012/13

Total

FA Cup games

3

1

4

Win

1

0

1

Draw

1

0

1

Loss

1

1

2

2011/12

2012/13

Total

Carling/Capital Cup Games

0

2

2

Win

0

1

1

Draw

0

0

0

Loss

0

1

1

2011/12

2012/13

Total

Johnstone Paint Trophy

0

1

1

Win

0

0

0

Draw

0

0

0

Loss

0

1

1