Height 5ft.11inches and weighing 12 stone. He was a left-handed batsman and a left-hand round-arm fast bowler, usually fielding at slip or point.
After a period of army service he was known in Yeadon as "Soldier Johnny."
His first professional engagement was at Hawick, Scotland, in 1855 and 1856. He later went to Melrose and Kelso in 1857; at Langham in 1858-59; at Dunce Academy, near Berwick 1860; in which season he played for Kelso against Stockon, taking 2 and 0 and taking one wicket.
Glasgow Caledonian Club 1861-62; Blackburn 1863-64 and 1867-68; East Lancashire 1865-66 and 1869.
On 15th June 1867 he appeared for Todmorden as a given man in their match against Burnley, scoring 3 and taking six wickets for 20 runs in the first innings and seven for 16 runs in the second. He was with Batley, Yorkshire in 1870 and 1871, and with Leeds Clarence, Kirkstall 1871-72; and Batley again 1873.
On 23 and 24 May 1864 he appeared at Lord's for an eleven of Colts that had never appeared at Lord's or The Oval against the M.C.C. He scored 21 and 6 and took a wicket in each innings.
In August 1865 he played for Lancashire in their second first-class match, against Middlesex, at Islington, where he opened the innings and scored 23 and 21. He also took two wickets but could not stop Middlesex winning by ten wickets. Later that year he played twice for his native county, but in the two following years played for Lancashire.
During the 1870s he was landlord of the Commercial Arms Inn, Batley.
In 1874 he accepted an engagement as coach and groundsman at Marlborough, where he stayed until 1877.
In 1878 he appeared for Wakefield as an amateur and from 1879 to 1881 he took up an appointment with the Grange Club, Edinburgh and in 1882 he was at Galashields.
He then moved to Worcester in 1883 first as a player for the County and later as groundsman.
During his tenure as groundsman he levelled the whole of the old ground at Broughton Park, the home of the Worcestershire County Club from 1865 until 1896, when they moved to New Road. He was known by the nick-name "The Doctor" and maintained an active interest in cricket until the end and was often called upon to umpire.
His son Douglas James Smith (born in Batley 29th May 1873) played for Somerset, Worcestershire and Glamorgan (pre first-class). He became cricket coach at St Andrew's College, Grahamstown, South Africa. Another son, William Smith (born in Batley 23rd April 1871) played for Somerset, MCC and Wiltshire. He had two further sons, one of whom kept the Golden Lion Inn, Worcester at the time of his father's death.
(Article: Copyright © 2004 Don Ambrose)
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