Tommy Smith would consider a second return to Watford and reflects on Hornets career with brother Jack

This Is Local London: Tommy Smith celebrates scoring for Watford against Barnsley. Picture: Action Images Tommy Smith celebrates scoring for Watford against Barnsley. Picture: Action Images

Tommy Smith would be open to the prospect of an emotional return to Vicarage Road to play for Watford for a third time if a move “was right for them and right for me”.

The Cardiff City player, who turns 34 later this month, is set to become a free agent this summer when his contract with the Premier League outfit expires and he would consider a second return to the club where he first made his name if an offer was to be forthcoming.

“I’d never say never,” the two-time Hornets Player of the Season said when asked about the idea of rejoining the Hornets again. “Football is a funny game and I honestly felt when I left the first time what are the chances of ever coming back to play.

“But I’ll be a free contract, I’ll be listening to any offers and I would happily come back to Watford, absolutely. If it was right for them and right for me I’d have no qualms about that at all.”

Turning to his brother Jack, who also started his career at Watford, Tommy added: “I’m sure you’d be the same, it’s a great club and you never know, I could end up anywhere.”

The brothers have strengthened their connections with the area by taking over the sales arm of a firm of estate agents and when they spoke to the Watford Observer last Monday, they also reflected on their Hornets careers and looked ahead to what the future may hold.

Having made his Hornets debut in November 1997 after rising up through the youth ranks, Tommy went on to make almost 150 league appearances, scoring 33 league goals, before joining Sunderland on a free transfer in September 2003 after turning down the offer of a new deal under Gianluca Vialli.

A year at the Stadium of Light and two seasons at Derby County followed before he was brought back to the then Premiership club for £500,000 by Aidy Boothroyd in August 2006.

The Hemel Hempstead-born player scored another 27 goals in 123 league starts during his second spell at Vicarage Road, becoming an increasingly key figure in the squad before the Hornets sold him to Portsmouth for £1.8m in August 2009 after Tommy had been on the verge of moving to Reading.

Following Portsmouth’s Premier League relegation, Tommy helped Queens Park Rangers into the top-flight – confirming their rise with a late goal at Vicarage Road in April 2011 – before he also helped guide his current club to the same level under former Hornets boss Malky Mackay.

This Is Local London:

Tommy Smith with former Hornets loanee Adam Johnson. Picture: Action Images

This season has been a difficult one though. Tommy has not featured at all in the Premier League, making just three cup appearances, but while he is entering the latter stages of his career, he is not ready to hang up his boots yet.

“I’m turning 34 next month so I certainly feel I’ve got a good couple of seasons left,” he said. “I feel fit, I feel great to be honest. It’s been a really frustrating season for me but on the other hand it works in my favour that I’ve had probably a bit less stress on the body so I feel raring to go.

“It’s frustrating watching football every week and not playing, I’m not used to that. I’m the same as Jack, my contract’s up, so I think I’ll be looking for a new challenge in the summer and I’m really looking forward to it.”

His brother, who is also expecting to become a free agent this summer when his current deal at Millwall comes to an end, added: “I think when you have a season like that it does make you realise how much you miss not playing. It’s hard to sit at home and watch the results come in on the TV and you haven’t got that buzz and the feeling of winning games and being involved and you miss a lot of the banter and everything, you don’t feel as involved as the lads that are playing. It’s not easy.”

Although he has spent the past two years playing in Wales, Tommy’s family are settled at their home in Berkhamsted. The player would like his next move to be in or around London but he knows that may not be possible.

“You’ve got to go wherever you’ve got to go, that’s football,” he acknowledged. “But first and foremost, I’ve got kids at school that I won’t move now. If I move club, certainly my family won’t be moving so ideally you want to commute and be in and around London, absolutely. That will be the main focus.”

Tommy continued: “If you had the choice, certainly for us the choice would be local. And there’s enough good teams locally to be there with the likes of the Watfords, Readings, Brentfords, teams like that. Leyton Orient are great now, so hopefully there will be a bit of interest that will work out for both parties.”

Tommy has been a professional footballer for 17 years, more than half of which were spent at Vicarage Road. Looking back on his two spells with the Hornets he reflected: “I’ve got some really fond memories. It’s obviously my first club, I came through as a kid, made some great friends who I’m still in touch with now – some still playing, some not. It’s the club that I made my debut at, lots of highs – FA Cup semi-finals, player of the years – and lots of lows – relegations – but just fantastic memories.

“The big thing for me and the hardest decision was coming back for the second stint and it was a real ‘do I, don’t I?’ I felt sometimes it’s harder to go back a second time, particularly the way I left – I’m not sure a lot of people understood why I left.

“That was probably the toughest decision for me but the biggest one of my career that I’m the most happy about. I really enjoyed the three, four seasons I had when I came back and they’re probably one of my fondest memories of my career so far looking back.”

Asked what factors he had to weigh up before opting to return, the Hornets’ 14th highest scorer of all-time explained: “Being local you can’t really get away from Watford so if you have a bad game you’re getting reminded of it all week and it always seems to hurt you a bit more.

“All professional footballers, if you lose or you don’t play well on a Saturday it’s hard enough to forget but when you’re bumping into people and they’re reminding you of it every day or ‘why did you do this?’ it hurts you a bit more and it’s harder to forget. Coming back, I had to be prepared for that again.

“When you move away, you haven’t got those kind of pressures. I think that was the biggest thing for me; I think I found just before I left, the enjoyment wasn’t quite there, and I didn’t want to come back and not enjoy it. Because I had such a great time at Derby for a couple of years before I re-signed for Watford, it was always going to be hard to emulate that but it certainly did.”

This Is Local London:

Jack Smith in action for the Hornets against Chelsea in 2004. Picture: Action Images

Jack’s Watford record is less significant – it was limited to 28 first-team appearances – but it set the 30-year-old defender on a path that has seen him make 304 appearances in all competitions for the Hornets, Swindon Town and the Lions.

He explained: “I was disappointed with how I left in the end. Possibly with hindsight I could have stuck around for six months after because I had a year left on my contract when Boothroyd said I could leave. But from what I’ve heard he looks for a reaction and I think I took it a bit too literally.

“When you’re a bit younger I think you get offended when people tell you ‘I don’t want you’ whereas now it will be ‘I’ll show you’. But at the time I was like ‘fine, I’ll go somewhere else’ and obviously the next season they went and got promoted to the Premiership. So I went from potentially a Premiership player and got relegated with Swindon to League Two,” Smith added with a wry smile.

“That’s the only thing I look back on and think maybe that could have been different. Obviously I only played 20-odd games for Watford but as Tom said it’s your local team where I was from eight, nine and to just play one game for them was good. I played against Chelsea and stuff and they’re good memories and they set me up for a good career and a good grounding.”

Despite living a short distance up the A41 when he is not in Wales, Tommy hasn’t returned to Vicarage Road a great deal since he left in 2009. But he was in the stands with his son to watch the win over Ipswich Town last month and it was an experience both enjoyed.

“It was nice, really nice to come back and be able sit in the stands and watch it,” he said. “That’s the first time since I’ve left I’ve been back to Vicarage Road really bar playing and it was really enjoyable.

“I’m trying to get my son to support Watford and buying him a shirt. Obviously all his school friends are Tottenham and Chelsea but I’m like ‘no’, I want him to support Watford. I’m working on him,” he added with a smile.

To read about the Smith brothers' move into the world of estate agency, click here.

Comments (31)

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11:08am Mon 5 May 14

bristol hornet says...

I stated this on the previous thread, for as he lives in Berko and has a new business in Watford, it makes a lot of sense to bring Tommy back to help with our promo push next season. He would certainly love to come back for a third time.
I stated this on the previous thread, for as he lives in Berko and has a new business in Watford, it makes a lot of sense to bring Tommy back to help with our promo push next season. He would certainly love to come back for a third time. bristol hornet
  • Score: 13

11:08am Mon 5 May 14

SuperHorn says...

I would absolutely LOVE to see Tommy Smith return. I don't know if he still is as class as he used to be but it would be a great boost whatever. I'm not sure if the Pozzos will want to sign him though because he is nearly 34.
I would absolutely LOVE to see Tommy Smith return. I don't know if he still is as class as he used to be but it would be a great boost whatever. I'm not sure if the Pozzos will want to sign him though because he is nearly 34. SuperHorn
  • Score: 12

11:30am Mon 5 May 14

Larrythe Loafer 'Orn says...

This would be a great move. He is a natural striker and would fit well with Troy, Anya and FF. It is also important that we have some experience of the guts you need i the Championship, the times when you need to dig deep and grind out a result and Tommy doesn't fall back deep with 10 minutes to go, he keeps being the threat that keeps the opponents back
This would be a great move. He is a natural striker and would fit well with Troy, Anya and FF. It is also important that we have some experience of the guts you need i the Championship, the times when you need to dig deep and grind out a result and Tommy doesn't fall back deep with 10 minutes to go, he keeps being the threat that keeps the opponents back Larrythe Loafer 'Orn
  • Score: 1

11:31am Mon 5 May 14

Hornets number 12 fan says...

Lets Get Ian Bolton back at center back he lives in Garston and he's only 60 something!
Lets Get Ian Bolton back at center back he lives in Garston and he's only 60 something! Hornets number 12 fan
  • Score: 36

11:34am Mon 5 May 14

mkhornet says...

Would be a good asset to have, just what we need and experienced British player who knows how to help teams get out of the championship. Was also technically very good and always gave 100%. What have we got to lose if he's a free agent, for god sake if we thought that Lucas Neill could do a job at 36 Tommy Smith is a much better option.
Would be a good asset to have, just what we need and experienced British player who knows how to help teams get out of the championship. Was also technically very good and always gave 100%. What have we got to lose if he's a free agent, for god sake if we thought that Lucas Neill could do a job at 36 Tommy Smith is a much better option. mkhornet
  • Score: 12

11:42am Mon 5 May 14

Ronny oh Ronny Ronny says...

Not good enough, hardly played for a year, too old to cut it at this level, I'm sure he could still do a job at wycombe or stevenage. He is no Kevin Phillips. I mean seriously, I saw Luther play as part of a back 3 last Sunday, shall we bring him back too?
Not good enough, hardly played for a year, too old to cut it at this level, I'm sure he could still do a job at wycombe or stevenage. He is no Kevin Phillips. I mean seriously, I saw Luther play as part of a back 3 last Sunday, shall we bring him back too? Ronny oh Ronny Ronny
  • Score: 12

11:46am Mon 5 May 14

Berko Horn says...

Saw Tommy in Berko Waitrose yesterday and he certainly has not ruled out a return. However, as SuperHorn says, the Pozzo's generally go for young talent, athough there are some exceptons- the likes of Hall and Casetti were hardly spring chickens! He would give us that Championship awareness and guile we are presently missing and would add a few hundred season tickets, especially if we can keep Troy.
Saw Tommy in Berko Waitrose yesterday and he certainly has not ruled out a return. However, as SuperHorn says, the Pozzo's generally go for young talent, athough there are some exceptons- the likes of Hall and Casetti were hardly spring chickens! He would give us that Championship awareness and guile we are presently missing and would add a few hundred season tickets, especially if we can keep Troy. Berko Horn
  • Score: 8

12:04pm Mon 5 May 14

Siwel Effilcinutt says...

Love Tommy Smith great Pro, but not what we need. This is exactly the type of signing that if made would worry me. Great for the fans but not for the team.
Love Tommy Smith great Pro, but not what we need. This is exactly the type of signing that if made would worry me. Great for the fans but not for the team. Siwel Effilcinutt
  • Score: 21

12:48pm Mon 5 May 14

Lloydinio says...

please bring him back
please bring him back Lloydinio
  • Score: -11

12:56pm Mon 5 May 14

ramage1996 says...

Larrythe Loafer 'Orn wrote:
This would be a great move. He is a natural striker and would fit well with Troy, Anya and FF. It is also important that we have some experience of the guts you need i the Championship, the times when you need to dig deep and grind out a result and Tommy doesn't fall back deep with 10 minutes to go, he keeps being the threat that keeps the opponents back
A natural striker?

103 goals in 545 games..
[quote][p][bold]Larrythe Loafer 'Orn[/bold] wrote: This would be a great move. He is a natural striker and would fit well with Troy, Anya and FF. It is also important that we have some experience of the guts you need i the Championship, the times when you need to dig deep and grind out a result and Tommy doesn't fall back deep with 10 minutes to go, he keeps being the threat that keeps the opponents back[/p][/quote]A natural striker? 103 goals in 545 games.. ramage1996
  • Score: 16

1:34pm Mon 5 May 14

mickallen57 says...

Perhaps he (Tommy Smith) would do a job for us ,but I prefer to go with the flow of the Pozzo model . Lets move onwards and up wards if we are talking previous hero's lets have Vydra back .
Perhaps he (Tommy Smith) would do a job for us ,but I prefer to go with the flow of the Pozzo model . Lets move onwards and up wards if we are talking previous hero's lets have Vydra back . mickallen57
  • Score: 18

3:48pm Mon 5 May 14

andyandyandy says...

Thanks but no thanks. Not good enough anymore.
Thanks but no thanks. Not good enough anymore. andyandyandy
  • Score: 12

3:58pm Mon 5 May 14

Boosey says...

We could play him in goal!
We could play him in goal! Boosey
  • Score: 6

4:08pm Mon 5 May 14

Harrydownunder says...

Let's bring back Jamie moralee. Another natural striker!
Let's bring back Jamie moralee. Another natural striker! Harrydownunder
  • Score: 6

4:45pm Mon 5 May 14

Dunderdale Pinner says...

Sorry Tommy. Not this time. You were excellent the first time, not so good the second and I fear age is not on your side. Also you have not made that many appearances this season. Maybe a coaching role. Anyway thanks for all the pleasure you gave us in the past.
Sorry Tommy. Not this time. You were excellent the first time, not so good the second and I fear age is not on your side. Also you have not made that many appearances this season. Maybe a coaching role. Anyway thanks for all the pleasure you gave us in the past. Dunderdale Pinner
  • Score: 10

4:47pm Mon 5 May 14

ramage1996 says...

andyandyandy wrote:
Thanks but no thanks. Not good enough anymore.
Thats it mate, someone who is 34 this month that hasnt played a game in over a year with a goal scoring record throughout his career of 1 every 5.5 games..

I think Luton is more his level at his age..
[quote][p][bold]andyandyandy[/bold] wrote: Thanks but no thanks. Not good enough anymore.[/p][/quote]Thats it mate, someone who is 34 this month that hasnt played a game in over a year with a goal scoring record throughout his career of 1 every 5.5 games.. I think Luton is more his level at his age.. ramage1996
  • Score: 5

5:35pm Mon 5 May 14

Boosey says...

mickallen57 wrote:
Perhaps he (Tommy Smith) would do a job for us ,but I prefer to go with the flow of the Pozzo model . Lets move onwards and up wards if we are talking previous hero's lets have Vydra back .
Keep praying and your wish will come true.
[quote][p][bold]mickallen57[/bold] wrote: Perhaps he (Tommy Smith) would do a job for us ,but I prefer to go with the flow of the Pozzo model . Lets move onwards and up wards if we are talking previous hero's lets have Vydra back .[/p][/quote]Keep praying and your wish will come true. Boosey
  • Score: 5

6:00pm Mon 5 May 14

Sealegs says...

He probably isn't the same Tommy Smith who left us but all the same, the article gave me a lift in what is a fairly depressing bank holiday weekend Watford-wise. I have also changed my views on estate agents!

He wouldn't mind a low salary and could play the odd game or two, may as sub for most of the time and maybe form the backbone of our League Cup run next season finishing at Wembley.

Fantastic character - that is almost enough reason to get him back - it may counter all the emotional latinos we have...
He probably isn't the same Tommy Smith who left us but all the same, the article gave me a lift in what is a fairly depressing bank holiday weekend Watford-wise. I have also changed my views on estate agents! He wouldn't mind a low salary and could play the odd game or two, may as sub for most of the time and maybe form the backbone of our League Cup run next season finishing at Wembley. Fantastic character - that is almost enough reason to get him back - it may counter all the emotional latinos we have... Sealegs
  • Score: 0

6:18pm Mon 5 May 14

only5foot3 says...

Admired him as a player but..... As soon as the money dried up tommy was off.

Cannot blame him. We would all do the same

But we have almen abdi and fernando in his position
Admired him as a player but..... As soon as the money dried up tommy was off. Cannot blame him. We would all do the same But we have almen abdi and fernando in his position only5foot3
  • Score: 4

6:20pm Mon 5 May 14

Grissom says...

Chris Eagles just released by Bolton would be better
Chris Eagles just released by Bolton would be better Grissom
  • Score: 14

6:29pm Mon 5 May 14

Bush Hornet says...

only5foot3 wrote:
Admired him as a player but..... As soon as the money dried up tommy was off.

Cannot blame him. We would all do the same

But we have almen abdi and fernando in his position
Of course he didn't stick around when the money dried up. He's an estate agent at heart
[quote][p][bold]only5foot3[/bold] wrote: Admired him as a player but..... As soon as the money dried up tommy was off. Cannot blame him. We would all do the same But we have almen abdi and fernando in his position[/p][/quote]Of course he didn't stick around when the money dried up. He's an estate agent at heart Bush Hornet
  • Score: 5

7:56pm Mon 5 May 14

goldanboy says...

Absolute legend. But please, let's not have him back. Has it really come to this that we have to sign a 34 year old ex player when we have such a vast 'pool of talent' from around the world. Sure he's Watford thru' and thru', but he's well past his best years. Never thought I'd say it, but would prefer if we paid to move all of Hogg's family down here and buy him! Anyway,goalie, defence and striker first.
Absolute legend. But please, let's not have him back. Has it really come to this that we have to sign a 34 year old ex player when we have such a vast 'pool of talent' from around the world. Sure he's Watford thru' and thru', but he's well past his best years. Never thought I'd say it, but would prefer if we paid to move all of Hogg's family down here and buy him! Anyway,goalie, defence and striker first. goldanboy
  • Score: 11

10:18pm Mon 5 May 14

Andrew1963 says...

Hornets number 12 fan wrote:
Lets Get Ian Bolton back at center back he lives in Garston and he's only 60 something!
Andy Rankin is still catching colds and is not terrified of crosses when he enters a church; things you suspect May not be true of our current keepers. The Smith brothers should contact Brentford or Peterborough, frankly their Watford time is past. If we are to get any former players in I suggest we go for Marvin Sordell.
[quote][p][bold]Hornets number 12 fan[/bold] wrote: Lets Get Ian Bolton back at center back he lives in Garston and he's only 60 something![/p][/quote]Andy Rankin is still catching colds and is not terrified of crosses when he enters a church; things you suspect May not be true of our current keepers. The Smith brothers should contact Brentford or Peterborough, frankly their Watford time is past. If we are to get any former players in I suggest we go for Marvin Sordell. Andrew1963
  • Score: 3

10:40pm Mon 5 May 14

ramage1996 says...

Andrew1963 wrote:
Hornets number 12 fan wrote:
Lets Get Ian Bolton back at center back he lives in Garston and he's only 60 something!
Andy Rankin is still catching colds and is not terrified of crosses when he enters a church; things you suspect May not be true of our current keepers. The Smith brothers should contact Brentford or Peterborough, frankly their Watford time is past. If we are to get any former players in I suggest we go for Marvin Sordell.
mmm I reckon if we are going to sign a former Watford player there is a young striker who has scored 31 goals for Peterborough this season..
[quote][p][bold]Andrew1963[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Hornets number 12 fan[/bold] wrote: Lets Get Ian Bolton back at center back he lives in Garston and he's only 60 something![/p][/quote]Andy Rankin is still catching colds and is not terrified of crosses when he enters a church; things you suspect May not be true of our current keepers. The Smith brothers should contact Brentford or Peterborough, frankly their Watford time is past. If we are to get any former players in I suggest we go for Marvin Sordell.[/p][/quote]mmm I reckon if we are going to sign a former Watford player there is a young striker who has scored 31 goals for Peterborough this season.. ramage1996
  • Score: 8

11:20pm Mon 5 May 14

Andrew1963 says...

True, but he will command a decent fee, Sordell will probably be released by Bolton or allowed to go for
True, but he will command a decent fee, Sordell will probably be released by Bolton or allowed to go for Andrew1963
  • Score: 1

12:38am Tue 6 May 14

D.unstable says...

Please is it April the 1st? A good servant in his time, but seriously if we have any desire next season I'm afraid we need to have stepped it up a bit Tommy.
Please is it April the 1st? A good servant in his time, but seriously if we have any desire next season I'm afraid we need to have stepped it up a bit Tommy. D.unstable
  • Score: 5

8:53am Tue 6 May 14

corbindallas says...

lol I thought this was a April 1st joke to, think we need to look forward not backwards, loved Tommy Smith but he was not my favourite Tommy that was Mooney! Think it's clear we need someone with pace and a 34 year old who has not played for a while is not the answer, bold as Tommy is for not ruling himself out.
lol I thought this was a April 1st joke to, think we need to look forward not backwards, loved Tommy Smith but he was not my favourite Tommy that was Mooney! Think it's clear we need someone with pace and a 34 year old who has not played for a while is not the answer, bold as Tommy is for not ruling himself out. corbindallas
  • Score: 3

3:12pm Tue 6 May 14

gloryhornet4 says...

only5foot3 wrote:
Admired him as a player but..... As soon as the money dried up tommy was off.

Cannot blame him. We would all do the same

But we have almen abdi and fernando in his position
Not as I understand it.

He was told the club needed the fee from his sale to pay the monthly salaries as we were living hand to mouth, so he said if you are OK about it and you need the money, I will go.
[quote][p][bold]only5foot3[/bold] wrote: Admired him as a player but..... As soon as the money dried up tommy was off. Cannot blame him. We would all do the same But we have almen abdi and fernando in his position[/p][/quote]Not as I understand it. He was told the club needed the fee from his sale to pay the monthly salaries as we were living hand to mouth, so he said if you are OK about it and you need the money, I will go. gloryhornet4
  • Score: 0

8:45pm Tue 6 May 14

Scullion says...

aarrrghhhhhh......go
d help us all if this happened. Ex players? Id get Eustace back in coaching role...he knows the league and the club. Maybe we can sub him for some Italian lesson over the close season? But Tommy...errr no. Definitely not. Stay a legend. Dont ruin it !
aarrrghhhhhh......go d help us all if this happened. Ex players? Id get Eustace back in coaching role...he knows the league and the club. Maybe we can sub him for some Italian lesson over the close season? But Tommy...errr no. Definitely not. Stay a legend. Dont ruin it ! Scullion
  • Score: 0

3:11pm Wed 7 May 14

Bonser Out says...

Personally, I would rather have Matej Vydra back on a permanent deal.
Personally, I would rather have Matej Vydra back on a permanent deal. Bonser Out
  • Score: 1

4:36pm Tue 13 May 14

andyhooked says...

Look beyond Tommy's age and the fact that he may be a possible bit part player. Could he help to get a better team ethic? I suspect on both accounts that Tommy is not the answer when it comes to wage bills and the ability to turn a game should he come off of the bench. We need guys that love our club not so-called "under-talented journeymen" here today and gone tomorrow. Hey, I would like Matty back but he has to be in the right frame of mind to return to a club that he jumped ship for more money.
Look beyond Tommy's age and the fact that he may be a possible bit part player. Could he help to get a better team ethic? I suspect on both accounts that Tommy is not the answer when it comes to wage bills and the ability to turn a game should he come off of the bench. We need guys that love our club not so-called "under-talented journeymen" here today and gone tomorrow. Hey, I would like Matty back but he has to be in the right frame of mind to return to a club that he jumped ship for more money. andyhooked
  • Score: 0

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