Bernie Smith- Finest Players Of VFL During The ’40s & ’50s.
He became one of the best back pocket players of his time, especially when he played for Geelong.
Born on December 19, 1927, Bernard Keith Smith was a former Australian Rules football player who was known for staying calm during extreme crisis situations and was capable of reading the game way better than his teammates. Smith used to first play with West Adelaide in SANFL or South Australian National Football League and later played for Geelong in Victorian Football League or VFL.
Bernie Smith was often described as a country boy playing country football and always wore a big smile that complemented his curly hair and fair colour.
1945 to 1947: West Adelaide
Bernie Smith started his Australian Rules career with West Adelaide on April 28, 1945. He was only 16 years old at that time and played as a centre. He immediately proved himself to be an outstanding player. In 1947, he went on to win the best and fairest award of West Adelaide, known as Trabilsie Medal.
It was in the same year Bernie Smith was also a part of Grand Final winning team of West Adelaide against Norwood and Bernie Smith emerged as one of the best players on field for that particular match. He played a total of 55 games for West Adelaide and kicked 12 goals.
1948 to 1958: Geelong
The Geelong club noticed Bernie Smith’s skill in 1947 during an interstate carnival when Bernie Smith was representing South Australia. His skills were too bright to be ignored by the Victorian Football club. In 1948, Geelong went on to recruit Bernie Smith and made him play as a centreman. He was however moved to back pocket in 1950 by Coach Reg Hickey.
Bernie Smith was quick to adjust to his new position and 1951 he proved his quality by winning the Brownlow Medal (the best and fairest award of Geelong). The same year he also played for the premiership victory of Geelong and caught attention as one of the best players on field.
Bernie Smith managed to put a strong defence with fullback Bruce Morrison and often launched forward counter moves with his precision kicks. Bernie Smith’s defence was so strong that coaches of the opponent teams had to rethink their offensive strategy to get past Bernie Smith and Bruce Morrison in order to even get close to the goal.
Bernie Smith was one of the favourites among his team members and among the supporters of Geelong. It is often said that wherever Bernie Smith went on field, the ball invariably followed.
Smith played 183 games for Geelong but managed to kick only three goals but that’s justified by his position.
Awards And Achievements
Bernie Smith’s skills helped him to grab several awards. He was an achiever and in every single game it appeared that, he was playing with all his heart and soul. Here is a quick list of his awards and achievements, which blatantly speak of qualities as an Australian Rules footballer:
• 1947: Premiership player for West Adelaide.
• 1947: Won Trabilsie Medal.
• 1951 and 1952: Premiership player for Geelong.
• 1951: Won Brownlow Medal.
• 1951 and 1956: Won Carji Greeves Medal.
• 1953: Became a member of All-Australian team.
• 1954: Became the captain of Geelong club.
• 1996: Inducted in Australian Football Hall of Fame.
• 2002: Inducted into South Australian Football Hall of Fame.
• Became a member of Geelong’s Team of the Century for back pocket position.
• Became a member of AFL Team of the Century for back pocket position.
Bernie Smith was one of the most respected players of his time. Not only was he respected by his teammates but was also respected by the opponents he played. He always played a fair game that was widely acknowledged and praised.