Gilbert Derek (Des) SMITH


Guernsey Number: 20
Career: 1946
NFC Games: 4
NFC Goals: 1
Debut: v North Adelaide (Norwood) 27th April 1946
Finale: v West Torrens (Norwood) 15th June 1946


Gilbert Derek (Des) Smith was born on 24 October 1923 and joined Norwood from one of the armed services teams in 1946.

His father Henry David Smith had played for West Torrens (1907- 1915), represented the state, and won the Bay Sheffield foot race in 1902 and 1903.

Educated at Marryatville public and Norwood High schools, Des Smith was a junior police constable in 1941 when he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force.  He under went training at Victor Harbor, Laverton and Mallala.

Des served with the RAAF during World War II, reaching the rank of Fight Lieutenant and on 8 December 1944 was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (Imperial) in recognition of his gallant service. He was discharged from the Air Force on 6 June 1946.

The tall knock ruckman impressed in the 1946 pre-season trials and an outstanding performance in the final trial cemented his spot for the first round. The trial was played to aid the building fund of the Norwood sub-branch of the Returned Soldiers' League.

Smith was named as the second ruckman, resting in a forward pocket, in his debut game; Norwood defeated North Adelaide : 16.24 to 11.11.

He was again in the winning side the following week when Norwood defeated West Torrens on the Kensington Oval.

In the third round Smith led the first ruck in Norwood's narrow loss to Port Adelaide at Alberton.

His last senior game for Norwood was in round eight, as he was unable to break back into the strong Redlegs line-up after suffering an injury set back.

Smith transferred to Glenelg in 1947, where he played another seven league games.

Des Smith died on  February 7, 2002.

R Cialini, M Giles, G Adams May 2021

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