Former Saints player Malcolm Smith has passed away

Born on June 25 1958, Smith was a local lad from Carr Mill, Malcolm Smith went to Rivington Road school, where he came under the tutelage of former Saints’ great John Mantle.

In his early days he played both codes of rugby before following his brother, Keith, to Knowsley Road, who was a centre in the A and B teams.

Signed from the St Helens Colts, Smith came on from the bench for his Saints debut against Huddersfield on September 3 1978 in what was a time of change at Knowsley Road, with the great Dad’s Army team of the 1970s beginning to break up.

The forward pack for this match started as follows: Dave Chisnall, Tony Karalius, Mike Hope, Keiron Pickavance, Graham Liptrot and Harry Pinner. Smith was on the bench with Mike Nolan. Saints won this game at Fartown by 18-11, with full-back Geoff Pimblett scoring a try and booting over two goals.

He was also on the bench for the bone-jarring encounter against Australia on November 12 1978. “It was a game he was so proud to have played in,” remembers his brother Keith.

“Despite the result [4-26] it meant so much to him. He just loved playing rugby league.” He was also in the team that beat Wigan 18-11 at Knowsley Road on Boxing Day in 1978. 

A strong, powerful player, he was a valued member of a successful young A team at Knowsley Road, who could play in the back row or at hooker, which gave the coach options when he came on from the bench.

Overall, Smith made a total of 14 senior competitive appearances in the red vee, including seven as substitute. 

His last three games for the Saints took place in five days at the end of the 1978-79 campaign. On May 10, the team lost 8-15 at Widnes, followed by a 26-4 success against Salford three days later. Smith scored a try from hooker in each of these games.

On May 15, the season came to an end for the Saints with a 10-21 reversal in the first round of the Premiership against Leeds at Headingley. Smith wore the number 9 jersey, with Dave Chisnall and Mel James as his partners in the front row.

He later crossed the Rubicon to our rivals Wigan, where he made 34 appearances from October 1979 to 1981. His Wigan Heritage Number is 757.

The Riversiders were in the throes of rebuilding themselves and Smith once again proved himself to be a useful squad member. In some matches he played as a front-rower, once again emphasising his utility value. 

A mechanical engineer in the printing industry, he moved to Kent for family reasons and at one stage trained as a plumber and had a successful company specialising in kitchen and bathroom conversions.

He maintained a love of rugby league right to the end and was a regular visitor to Magic Weekend.

He died in Chatham, Kent on June 26 2022.

Everyone at St Helens R.F.C. sends their condolences to Malcolm’s wife, Liz, brother Keith, sisters Fiona and Margaret, children Chris and Tarley, together with grandchildren Isabelle, Emily, Lyla, Olivia and Teddy at this sad time.