Ivor Lingard's surprising departure to Parramatta in Australia created another hole in the Rovers team. They found his successor in an unlikely place. A quick look at the number six shirt in the months following Lingard’s departure was a picture of a team who just didn’t know who to play there. Centres Jim Hunt, Peter Bell and Keith Cotton, as well as scrum-halves Carl Dooler and Colin Bates were all tried there. Rovers even had to turn to bringing legend Joe Mullaney out of semi-retirement to cover some games. Eventually the club went to Rossington near Doncaster, and plucked an eighteen year old out of the amateur game and threw him straight into the first team at Wigan in October 1964. Mick Smith’s Featherstone Rovers career was off and running. He held a mortgage on the stand-off position for the next five years, before switching equally successfully to the three-quarters. He struck up a good half-back partnership with first Carl Dooler and then a young Steve Nash.
Any stand-off worth his salt will have great pace off the mark and a good sidestep. How good was Mick Smith’s? Well, the whole country used to get a weekly reminder as Mick scored a blinding try in the 1973 Cup final at Wembley and for years afterwards Grandstand used the clip of that try in its opening credits sequence. The sight of the diminutive Smith backing up Mel Mason’s break, stepping through the flat-footed Bradford defence and weaving his way over before jumping for joy remains one the iconic moments in Featherstone Rovers’ history.
That 73 final was the second of three Challenge Cup finals Mick Smith played for Rovers, having been stand-off in the 67 final and then centre in 74 against Warrington. He also added three Yorkshire Cup finals to his medal tally. Coupled with his steady defence, competitive spirit and infectious enthusiasm it’s easy to see just how Smith’s career took off. In 1968 he was given a short run on the wing and promptly shattered the club try scoring record by scoring six tries in a match against Doncaster. Although matched by Chris Bibb 21 years later, that record has never been beaten.
When Rovers wanted to try promising new half-back Dave Kellett in partnership with Steve Nash, Mick simply switched to centre as if he had been playing there all his life. His career total includes 129 games at centre, and a further 48 on the wing. Oddly enough his final game for Featherstone came at full-back in September 1976 filling in for Harold Box. After that, his eleven season spell at Post Office Road came to a close and he finished his career at Huddersfield. In total, Mick Smith played a colossal 373 games for Featherstone, which puts him 9th on our all-time list. His record of 114 tries puts him in 11th position on the all-time try charts.