BROWNE ON THE BALL: Suspension over, now for Gregg Smith to shine at Boston United

Gregg Smith.
Gregg Smith.

It’s time to unleash the beast. That two-game suspension is served, and Gregg Smith is ready for action.

It’s fair to say that Smith wasn’t in Dennis Greene’s plans until he launched his frame into Joe Maguire less than 10-minutes into that friendly - a term used in the loosest sense possible - between Stamford and Boston United last month.

That forceful, and late, collision which left the Pilgrims defender needing treatment, saw the manager and player exchange unpleasantries for the remainder of the contest.

Smith snarled, swore and called Greene names I’m not allowed to publish.

Let’s just say he got the Boston boss’ attention, because if, to paraphrase, you can’t beat them, then invite them to join you.

That’s exactly what Greene did as the nature of the dialogue between the pair continued but changed in tone.

Just three days later Smith was pulling on a Boston shirt.

Throughout the summer Greene had been heaping praise on his newly-assembled squad, albeit scratching his head and trying to figure out what his best starting XI would be.

Then that chance meeting threw Smith into the frame and Boston were left with a piece of the jigsaw they didn’t even know was missing.

Suddenly they had a man who could give the club’s four wingers a true sense of purpose, somebody who could not only find the net but also hold the ball up and bring teammates into the game.

Right now I’m not convinced that Lamin Colley or Waide Fairhurst could pick the ball up out wide, skip past three opponents and smash a shot into the net like Dayle Southwell and Ricky Miller have done in recent seasons.

But they are both accomplished finishers who could just thrive alongside Smith, a bloke built like a wrestler but with feet fast enough to find the net.

Smith also brings that added toughness to the squad, a presence which has been missing since Jason Lee took all four of his ferocious limbs away from York Street.

With the likes of Scott Garner, Carl Piergianni and Shaun Pearson, United have had nice guys who play tough.

This isn’t to say Smith isn’t a good man, but when he crosses that line he brings that imposing ruthlessness that is sometimes lacking.

The football pursist may not agree, but the Jakemans Stadium is at its best when angry, when the drums pound, the chants are spat with venom and things are a little tetchy on the pitch.

When there’s a Lee, a Micky Nuttell, a Paul Ellender or a Martin Hardy to back you up, the strength shown by the whole team changes dramatically.

And now Boston have Smith to call upon for that role.

Don’t be fooled by his size, the boy can play as well.

But he happened to miss the first two games of this season after picking up 17 yellow cards last term, two of them against Darlington, whom he may well be facing on Saturday.

As the Quakers may rediscover, and Greene has already learned, Smith is the kind of player you’d rather have in your dressing room than the one next door.