Last weekend saw Dartford host Chippenham Town at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. Midfielder Jack Smith featured in our matchday programme that day. For those who missed that feature, here is the full article:

Young Defensive Midfielder, Jack Smith, arrived on loan from Stevenage Borough in September and has proved to be a valuable member of Alan Dowson’s squad. Having made twenty appearances (18 starts) so far and netting two league goals, Jack’s importance to Dartford’s promotion challenge has proved vital and a deal was recently agreed with his parent club, Stevenage Borough, for the midfielder to remain at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park until the end of the season.

At the time of our discussion, Jack’s in good spirits and, after having agreed to remain with the Darts, explains why he came to the club… “I decided to sign with the club because I needed to play games. The gaffer spoke to me on the phone, we spoke about what he wanted from the team and what he’d want from me. From then on it was an easy decision, and I decided to extend my time here, as the gaffer has kept faith in me playing every week. Also, the changing room is very enjoyable to be around.”

And, like the rest of the Dartford squad, Jack is confident of what the club can achieve despite a couple of negative results, “…I definitely want to get promoted here. I think there’s a real belief, especially after the great Christmas period we had. I believe that we’re good enough to achieve this.”

It’s no secret that Jack’s priority is his career with Stevenage Borough and progressing on a professional level. Unlike most in the Dartford changing room, he’s a full-time professional player, and has been ever since he left school. Having spent two years as a scholar, the young midfielder is now in his third term as a pro. However, when he turned sixteen he was released by Stevenage, only to resign as a scholar six months later!

But, where did his journey towards the beautiful game begin? “I grew up playing football for as long as I can remember. My older brother always played. My Dad also coached my brothers in a local team, so I was able to join in most weekends.”

From playing for his local side at the weekend, a fresh-faced Jack’s career took an upward swing when he signed for Luton Town at the age of eight. He remained with The Hatters for six years, before moving to Stevenage Borough at the age of fourteen, and he’s been on their books ever since. “…I’ve completed my scholarships there and have also signed two professional contracts.”

Besides being released and resigned by The Boro, Jack has also found himself going out on loan in order to get minutes and grow in experience. He has done time with Braintree Town (before the COVID-19 outbreak) and was at Kettering Town at the end of last season.

This experience goes a long way towards Jack reaching his dream of reaching the highest level possible. But, when did he first realise that a career within the sport was indeed possible? “Having started playing from the age of four, I realised it was a possible career when I started my scholarship. Moving into training every day full-time, playing every day and getting closer to the first team has definitely made me realise what’s possible.”

And, he’s had a lot of support during his adventure, especially from his family who he admits are an inspiration for him, “…they’ve sacrificed so much to get me where I am today. All the long distance travelling all over the country to watch me play, as well as getting me to all the training sessions, etc… over the years. They made it possible for me to get to where I am today.”

Unlike a few of his Dartford teammates, Jack isn’t too superstitious when it comes to matters on the pitch. He does admit to having a loose routine before games, but its nothing that he thinks about too much. What about off the pitch though?

“I like spending time with family and friends. Whether that’s going out for food, going to play pool, or just socialising. If that’s not possible, then I like to watch Netflix… either a movie of TV series. I also go to the cinema with my brother and Dad often and, in the summer, I like to travel and visit new places, as well as experience different things.”

It’s clear what this young footballer’s priority is at such an early stage in his career. And, as he aims to continue playing the game at the highest level possible, as well as continuing to enjoy himself both on and off the pitch, we wish him the very best for his future.

Meanwhile, though, he’s Dartford’s number fifteen and it’s been a pleasure watching him play at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. With that being said, I’ll let Jack have the final word…

“Thank you for the continued support. I want to continue playing here to help the team to have a chance of winning promotion this season. UP THE DARTS!”

By Chris Palmer