Chris Turner was fond of a joke, but he was deadly serious when he called Lindsay Smith the finest professional footballer he ever worked with.

Turner had just reluctantly released Lindsay after two spells totalling nine seasons of utter commitment to the Cambridge United cause – and no player was ever more committed. As a left-sided defender, a midfield prompter, an emergency striker or taker of uncomplicated penalty kicks, he gave no quarter and expected none.

There were no half-measures with Lindsay, who was known to adoring fans, if not his family or teammates, as Wolfie. ‘I’ve always believed you give everything you’ve got until the final whistle,’ he once said. ‘The fans appreciate it if you battle.’

The battle was joined the moment he joined Ron Atkinson’s merry men from Colchester in the autumn of 1977. The fixture gods were up to their usual mischief and his first game in amber was at the Abbey against … Colchester. Naturally, he dominated his old Essex colleagues.

And so it continued through 327 appearances, even though he spent a couple of seasons away from his adopted home, at Plymouth and Millwall, in the mid-80s. Lindsay’s importance to the team lay not just in his steely, unruffled and ruthlessly efficient defensive performances, however; he could be relied on to contribute the occasional goal, as his total of 24 shows.

It was Atkinson’s successor, John Docherty, who summed up supporters’ feelings when he said: ‘Lindsay Smith epitomises what Cambridge United are all about.’

 

 

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