FEATURE: West stand stick helped inspire 'old school' striker Smith to sign on at the Cobblers
Harry Smith remembers very well the stick he got from the Cobblers fans when he played for Macclesfield at the PTS Academy Stadium last month - and he loved every minute of it!
The big striker was a real handful for the Town defence, scoring a goal in the Silkmen’s 3-1 defeat, and generally making a nuisance of himself.
Standing at 6ft 5in, Smith isnt afraid to use his physicality, and he did it to good effect that day, which certainly had a few Cobblers supporters up in arms.
The west stand faithful certainly let him know what they thought of him in the second half, and that is something that stuck in his head.
And when the Cobblers came calling to see if he fancied a switch from Moss Rose to the PTS, Smith jumped at the chance
“I remember coming away from that game and thinking ‘this is a good little club to be a part of’,” said Smith, who was signed for an undisclosed fee last Friday.
“There was quite vocal support from the side stand, which I was quite impressed with, and I think there are also some good players here.
“I know the gaffer has brought a few in, and is hopefully looking to bring a few more in, so I am just excited about what’s coming.”
Asked to expand on that vocal home support and their 'warm' welcome, Smith added: “I think at that point Northampton had nothing to play for, but there was one point where the fans were getting on my back a bit, but that is the sort of player I am.
“I like antagonising the opposition, and the fans don’t really like it, but that comes with the role the gaffer wants me to have.
“But the fans were a big part of it (him signing for the Cobblers), I came away from that game thinking I liked it, and luckily the club then showed an interest.
“As soon as they showed that interest, I was more than happy to come here.”
So what will Smith, who scored nine goals for Macclesfield last season, bring to Town.
“I will bring energy, I am hoping to bring that as well as some goals, and as a striker that is the main thing for me,” he said.
“I am an old school No.9, I am a bit of a bully, and have a bit of attitude, but I think you have to have a bit of attitude to play that role.
“Hopefully the fans will be excited by me coming here, and I am really looking forward to it.”
Smith may be 24, but he came to football later in life than most.
He wasn’t attached to any club as a youngster, and instead played non-League football for Folkestone Invicta before being picked up and given his big break just three years ago by Millwall, who were in Sky Bet League One at the time.
That meant Smith was able to give up his day job as a welder to follow his footballing dream, but he admits that was an opportunity he thought had passed him by.
“I think it got to a point where I looked at my age, and I thought ‘this is not going to happen for me’,” said Smith, who was 21 when he signed on at the New Den.
“So I needed to get my head on and think what am I going to do career wise?
“I got into the welding business, and I was pretty content with that.
“I then got to a point where there was a lot of interest on the football side, and I had to make a decision, do I leave this job and try and push through somewhere football wise?
“Or do I forget the football and carry on with the welding?
“Luckily enough, I think I made the right decision, and I have not regretted it.”
Smith spent two years with Millwall, and although he did play first-team football, he struggled to establish himself as a regular.
He enjoyed a loan spell at Swindon Town, before leaving the Lions last summer and signing for Macclesfield.
Smith now finds himself at the Cobblers, so does he still have ambitions in the game?
“I obviously want to play as high as I can, but first and foremost I am here and I am delighted to be here,” said the Kent-born player.
“I am looking forward to spending the next few years here at Northampton and pushing the club as far as we can go.”
A key part in him agreeing to join the Cobblers was the fact he was offered a three-year contract, which is something that gives him the opportunity to really set down roots and concentrate on his football.
“I wanted somewhere where I can settle down for a little bit, look to get a house and things like that,” he said.
“The length of deal is massive for me, as I didn’t want to be a player who is on a year-to-year contract, so to be here for the next three years and hopefully push the club as far as we can go is exciting.”
The Cobblers’ location in the heart of England was another draw, with Smith delighted to take the chance to be nearer to his nearest and dearest.
“I am from Kent way, so it’s not too close where I am on the doorstep, but it’s only an hour and 40 minutes away or whatever,” said Smith.
“So it is perfect for the family to come and watch me a bit more, and for me to go and see them a bit more. I am delighted all round with it.”
Smith enjoyed his time at Macclesfield, and in particular working under Sol Campbell, who took over as boss at Moss Rose in November and steered the team to league two safety.
“He was brilliant,” said Smith, when asked about his former boss and the impact he had on his game.
“He was full of energy as you can imagine, and he was a breath of fresh air to the club and a massive part of how we maintained our Football League status.
“Massive credit to him for the way I played in the second half of the season, and towards the back end.
“I think he has a good career ahead of him going forward.”