Banner image

Obituary: Keith Charles Smith

Bristol Bears regret to announce the death of former player Keith Smith, who played in 172 first team matches from 1950 to 1959, scoring 68 tries.

Supporters from the 1950s will remember him as a powerful winger. He was a difficult man to tackle and he often completed his bursts up the wing with a trademark leap over the line.

Keith Charles Smith attended Bristol Grammar School and continued his education at Bristol University, where he was one of the university’s first cohort of veterinary students. He played three times for Bristol United in 1949-50 and made his first team debut the following season. Nineteen-year-old Keith was an instant success at first team level. His first season saw him make 29 first team appearances, and he was leading try scorer with 15. At the end of the season he won his first team cap, and his blazer award followed two years later.

During his debut season Keith was involved in a classic game with Cardiff at the Memorial Ground in January 1951. Bristol had not beaten their famous rivals since the war, but despite not enjoying the best of seasons they won an epic struggle 3-0 thanks to Keith’s first half try. Keith’s death means that second row Eric Hopton is now the sole survivor from Bristol’s victorious side. A week later Bristol completed a notable Welsh double by beating Llanelli, and Keith scored a try in this match too, as well as kicking two of his very occasional goals for the club. 

Keith was Bristol’s leading try scorer again in 1954-55, and amongst his achievements in this season was a hat trick at London Irish. Towards the end of the decade he switched to the back row, and he played his final matches in the 1958-59 season. After this he joined Bridgwater & Albion.      

Keith Smith was a regular player with Somerset for several seasons, and in all he played 24 times for the county. He had a remarkably long career as a vet, only retiring when he was 75.

Keith’s funeral will be at Taunton Crematorium on Thursday June 27th at 11:00 am. All at Bristol Bears send their condolences to Keith’s family at this sad time.