Past Legends - Danny Smith
Player Legends 19 of 24

19. Past Legends - Danny Smith


Stats: as at 5 Dec 2020
Cray Valley (PM) (2016 - 2020 - Two Spells)
Defender / Wing Back
Appearances 135
Goals 9
Penpix: Aug 2020
A 29 year old “Scouser”, left sided defender Danny is in his second spell with the Club having rejoined from Chatham Town. The former Everton Academy player first joined the Millers from Lordswood. He was a member of the London Senior Cup winning side in 2017 and featured as an integral part of the Club’s FA Vase run and Final appearance at Wembley in 2019, as well as guiding the Millers to the SCEFL championship and with it, promotion to the Isthmian League.
Danny and Cray Valley (PM) parted ways in April 2021 and Danny subsequently signed for Sheppey United but will always be a club legend.

Interview Nov 2020
As we take an enforced mid-season break due to the Covid-19 national lockdown, we look at those at the Club who have made more than 100 first team appearances for the Millers. Richard J Green spoke to Danny.

A product of the Everton Academy, Danny spent his University days playing as a left sided midfielder for Ashton Town and Bootle in the North West Counties League (Step 5).
After graduating and moving down to London at the age of 24 to work as an Investment Manager, Danny joined Lordswood after two years out of football - joining Ashley Sains in a defence that conceded just 44 goals in 36 games as they finished 4th in the SCEFL in 2015/16.
After leaving Lordswood early in the 2016/17 season together with Sains and manager James Collins, Danny joined the Millers – winning the London Senior Cup and reaching the Final of the Kent Senior Trophy, while also winning the Player of the Year award as the Millers finished 4th in the SCEFL.
“I was playing as a left full back and Ash was playing centre half – a very different way of playing to how we play now” explained Danny in his distinctive Scouse tone.
Shortly after the start of 2017/18, Collins’ departure from the Millers coincided with Danny taking time away to honeymoon with wife Hannah.“I was sitting on the beach in Hawaii texting James to see what was going on - which my Missis wasn’t best pleased about” recalls Danny, who went on to join Chatham Town “out of loyalty to James” when he returned home. “I was straight into a relegation fight with Chatham which I wasn’t used to – it was dire, awful. There was a lot of player turnover - which James was famous for. We ended up finishing in 14/15th position, but it was only by the skin of our teeth (that we stayed up). I really didn’t enjoy it. I missed Cray!”.
With few other options for the following season, Danny recalls “I was tossing up between giving up with football altogether, or going back to Chatham for another season with James. And then randomly, Kevin Watson reached out to me and started a conversation.
Kev said to me, ’I’ll be honest, I’ve never seen you play – I’m going on pure recommendation of the committee about inviting you back’. Pretty much within a half hour conversation with Kev, I committed to come back to Cray.
Having previously played for Cray, and played against them the season I was at Chatham, the big thing for me was the style of play – it was such a contrast to what I was used to. Kev was already starting to implement that - he was getting the type of players in that was capable of doing it – it was very much a work in progress. I know he struggled when he first took over as he was building it up, but as the season came to a conclusion, I could see what he was doing and the way forward.
So I thought, ‘well, if he can carry on building and bring the right players in throughout the summer, I definitely want to be a part of it’. So I went straight back over there, and it’s been absolutely fantastic – an absolute fairytale since I’ve been back to be honest.”
With the move came the need for Danny to adapt from playing in a conventional 4-4-2 formation to Watson’s preferred ‘3 at the back’.
“I was always a left sided midfielder, a winger, but I’d never played in terribly ‘expansive’ teams. I always played in teams which had four across the middle so always had the tendency to be a defensive minded midfielder until James Collins played me as an out and out left back at Lordswood. Having had a couple of years out of the game, I wasn’t in the best of shape – I didn’t have the best motor on me at that point – so it suited.
When I went back to Cray for the second time, I started taking better care of myself and the wingback role suited – it could get up and down a bit more – but I’ve always been a more defensively minded wingback as we have an out and out winger on the right side so it suits me absolutely perfectly, being able to pick and choose my moments to go and ‘join in up front’. It also makes it easier for us to shuffle back into a four when necessary, with me dropping back and Cem (Tumkaya) moving over to the right.”
With 135 Millers first team appearances to his name, Danny’s in a good place to tell us about the differences between various levels of non-league football. “I think as you move up the pyramid, everyone seems to take it a little bit more ‘seriously’ – a bit fitter, more physical – and teams seem to stick around a little bit.”
Danny explains this, “If you go 2 or 3 goals up against a team in the SCEFL, you’d probably go on and score 6 or 7. But teams really do ‘dig in’ at a higher level –you’re going to be hard pushed to run away with a game. The players just apply themselves more.
In terms of technical ability, I wouldn’t say there’s much difference – it’s more about the mental side, application.”
Family man Danny likes to spend his weekends with Hannah and baby Millie when he doesn’t have a game. “I normally get up at ‘silly o’clock’ and go for a run before looking after the baby – giving Hannah a lie in. Then I can spend some quality time with them, as I don’t get a great amount of time during the week,
with work and football. I maximise my time with them really.”
And when asked who he most enjoys watching as a spectator, Danny turns to one of the world’s greats. “Ronaldinho”, he says without hesitation. “It goes back to when my Dad lived in Barcelona – Ronaldinho was an absolute idol of mine. I used to spend every
school holiday over there with him - we used to go to the Nou Camp all the time. I was actually in Barcelona the summer that Ronaldinho signed and went to the first three home games he played in. Just to watch someone like him play live…..absolutely phenomenal. He used to move the ball around and do things that no-one else could do – the only player I could liken him to would be Messi.”
So as we look to make ground on the league leaders after lockdown, let’s hope the future holds many more great memories, and stories for Danny Smith.