Last week we posted a picture of Damien Smith on our Facebook page with the caption ‘great to see Damo back in the first team last night’ after he started Bracknell Town’s 1-0 win at Virginia Water.
Damien Smith has always been a popular player during any of his spells at Larges Lane due to his all action, no nonsense style of football, but 57 likes later we thought we’d better get the man on the phone.
Thankfully Damo agreed to be interviewed so here’s everything he said, from being part of a talented Bracknell under Alan Taylor to coming up against a pre Leeds United Jermaine Beckford.
It’s been great to see you back getting some first team action at Bracknell in the last few weeks. What’s your situation at the club?
It’s been great to be back. My situation at Bracknell is the same now as it was at the start of the season. I’m a squad member and if selected then I give 110% every time.
I have been able to get games for the development side which has been good for me to get minutes but also to help some of the younger players. If I can help any of them become better players by helping them in games but also passing my experience on.
I feel fitter than I have done in years and see plenty of years left of playing.
You’ve played at centre back and full back this season and last, but I’ve also seen you in midfield. Where are you most comfortable?
I would say centre back. I’m more than comfortable at full back or in midfield. I will play where ever the gaffer [Carl Davies] needs me to play.
Sometimes in football you won’t be in your natural position but you just need to do a job for the team.
You spent a few years away from Bracknell, where have you been?
Before returning for I think my 3rd or 4th spell at the club I actually took some time out of football.
Think I stopped playing at this level for about a year or just over. We had just had our 2nd child and wanted to spend time together as a family and when the time was right and the right opportunity came I couldn’t wait to get back into football again.
How did you end up back at Bracknell? Was it a fairly easy choice?
It was due to Nebbs [Steve Nebbett]. He contacted me when he and Tally [Mark Tallentire] were back at Bracknell.
Yes it was an easy choice. I knew Tally and Nebbs well. Played under Tally when he was assistant to Alan Taylor. Nebbs through local football but also when he was manager at Bracknell I helped out a little bit.
I went training and then saw a few familiar faces. Enjoyed the training session and just knew it was right to come back. So yes it was a very easy decision to make. Haven’t looked back since.
A question from Lee Trowbridge, which is the better squad? The one under Alan or current?
That’s a tough one. Totally different squads. You have some excellent players in both. I would have to say the current squad. Would be a great game if we had to play each other.
Personally I don’t think that squad under Alan ever quite achieved what it was capable of. There were some very good players in that team. Would you agree?
Yes totally agree. I am happy I was part of that team. I was a young lad and playing with Unders and Bakes [current Slough Town managers Jon Underwood and Neil Baker] who had loads of Conference experience helped me develop.
Alan also was a very experienced footballing man and loved every training session.
I remember watching you in one of your first games away at Yate Town and just thinking ‘who is this guy and where can we get 10 more!’. You were a box to box centre back is how I think I described it back then. What was the story behind signing for Bracknell in the first place?
Well I am 100% Bracknell through and through. Lived in Bracknell all my life. I was at Bracknell from the age of 15 playing in the under 18 side. Bracknell has always been my local side and never though about signing for anyone else. Once a Robin always a Robin.
Couple of quick questions to finish. Best player you ever played with?
Ben Wright when I was at Fleet Town. He then went on to sign a 2 year pro deal with Peterborough United.
Best player played against?
Jermaine Beckford when he was at Wealdstone just before his move to Leeds United.
One player you looked up to as a youngster?
Probably surprising to some Paul Gascoigne, for his on the field not off the field antics.
And.. highlight of your career so far?
Playing in the First Round Proper of the 2005/06 FA Cup and a brief viewing on Match of the Day. I was playing for Burnham, we played Aldershot Town. Lost 3-1 but not many players can say they have played is the first round of the UK’s best cup competition.