Duncan Browne looks at the Pilgrims attacker’s importance in the squad...
The match was won but the Boston United squad only had one thing on their minds.
One by one they headed towards the tunnel, but instead of jogging straight down to the dressing room they filed into the medical room next door.
There they found skipper Gregg Smith, sat up and chatting, but with his ankle pointing crudely inwards.
With little more than an hour played of New Year’s Day’s 2-1 win at Gainsborough, the skipper jumped up to meet Callum Chippendale’s corner.
The ball flew wide of the goal but what followed was a bad landing and audible scream from the striker which could be heard across the Northolme, then an immediate signal for the stretcher.
Those in the stadium knew something was wrong straight away, but it wasn’t until later that evening - the situation not helped by a two-hour wait for an ambulance which didn’t arrive - that Smith was told he had fractured and dislocated his ankle.
A frustrating and lengthy spell of rest and rehab awaits for someone whose value is proven by the fact he has featured in every game he has been eligible to for Boston so far this season.
Smith, the big, uncompromising mountain of a man, is the obvious target for opposing fans’ ire, perhaps the biggest compliment they can pay him.
But to those in amber and black, from the terraces to the team bus, he has been the standout star of this season to date, despite some tough opposition from the likes of Jay Rollins and Dion-Curtis Henry.
It shows the esteem that Smith is held in at the Jakemans Stadium that he was the first thing on his teammates’ minds, even after that dramatic last-gasp winner from Josh Robinson.
But Smith is very much the leader on and off the field.
He may not be afraid to tell a teammate when he doesn’t think they are pulling their weight, but when you speak to other Pilgrims they admit that honesty can often be appreciated in the long term.
But he’s not just a snarling, swearing beast.
On the flipside, players such as Robinson point out how it was Smith who made the first attempts to make him, arriving on loan from York City, feel welcome.
Manager Adam Murray has seen plenty of tough nuts during his years in the game, but he still managed to describe Smith as ‘superhuman’, ‘a monster’ and ‘a warrior’ in the space of three mintes after being staggered by the way which the injury was being treated as so matter-of-fact by the man who was yet to learn whether he was set to be holed up for two months, the season or for good.
Smith always leads by example, whether he’s in the dressing room, up front, in the heart of defence or chasing a lost cause down the wing.
And it seems that there’s no difference when his ankle’s at the kind of angle which gets Pythagoras all excited.
His presence will be missed on the pitch, but there’s no doubt it will still be felt at the Jakemans Stadium.