A cricketer who made his name playing for North Devon before graduating to the professional ranks with Somerset has died aged 90.
Roy Smith, whose cricket career began with North Devon shortly after World War Two, was talent spotted by Somerset after taking more than a hundred wickets during a season in club cricket.
Smith played 96 First Class games while with Somerset between 1949 and 1956. He joined Devon in 1957 and retired from county cricket completely in 1961 at the age of 31.
Roy Smith was born in Taunton on February 14 1930 and went to Huish’s Grammar School before moving to Woolacombe on the North Devon coast in 1944.
Smith was a talented all-round sportsman who started to make his mark playing cricket for North Devon and football for Ilfracombe. He was a good enough soccer player to land trials with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
A stunning season in club cricket, during which Smith took 117 wickets at less than eight runs each for the Instow club, attracted the attention of Somerset CCC, who offered him a job working as assistant secretary.
His first documented appearance for Somerset was in a benefit game for opener Frank Lee in 1947. Smith did his National Service in the Army at Norton Fitzwarren Camp near Taunton.
His full debut for Somerset came in June 1949 against Cambridge University at Bath when he scored 40 in the second innings. Smith left the army in February 1950 and was immediately offered a summer contract by Somerset. At age 20 he was the youngest contracted player on the staff.
Smith kept fit during the winter by playing Western League football for Bridgwater Town. Later, he skippered the St Luke’s College team in the Devon and Exeter League.
By 1953 Smith was a regular player in the Somerset side. That season he made 1176 runs at an average of 26.17 and scored his maiden 100 against Worcestershire at Frome, which earned him his county cap. Another highlight of Coronation Year and his career was his 77 not out against Australia at Taunton.
Smith’s final First Class game for Somerset was in July 1955 against Worcestershire at Taunton. He was retained for the 1956 season, but only appeared in second-eleven fixtures.
When Smith left Somerset he had played in 96 matches and scored exactly 2,600 runs at an average of 17.10 with one century and nine scores in excess of 50. He also took 19 wickets at an average of 57.00, with a best of four for 91.
Smith had no difficulty gaining admission to St Luke’s College in Exeter, where he qualified as a mathematics teacher and returned to Huish’s to teach and coach the football and cricket teams. He stayed there until 1978.
Between his debut against Cornwall at Liskeard in 1957 and his final outing against Dorset at Exeter in 1961, Smith played 31 Minor Counties game for Devon. He took four wickets in an innings three times: against Dorset (1961), Cornwall (1957) and his former Somerset 2nd XI team-mates (1958).
Smith’s best performance with the bat was to hit 150 against Cornwall at Plymouth in 1959.
Roy Smith spent his final days in a nursing home in Weston-super-Mare. He died on September 22, 2020.