Smith Signing coup for AFC

England C's Captain, James Smith (Ebbsfleet) - Photo mandatory by-line: Phil Mingo/Pinnacle - Tel: +44(0)1363 881025 - Mobile: 0797 1270 681 - VAT Reg No: 768 6958 48 - 16/09/2008 - SPORT - FOOTBALL - INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY - BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA V ENGLAND C - Grbavica Stadium, Sarajevo

England C's Captain, James Smith (Ebbsfleet) - Photo mandatory by-line: Phil Mingo/Pinnacle - Tel: +44(0)1363 881025 - Mobile: 0797 1270 681 - VAT Reg No: 768 6958 48 - 16/09/2008 - SPORT - FOOTBALL - INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY - BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA V ENGLAND C - Grbavica Stadium, Sarajevo

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HE IS an FA Trophy winner who has played in front of 40,000 people at Wembley and captained his country for the England non-League side and is still only 26.

And now Jamie Smith, who has spent most of his footballing career playing in the Conference — two and three leagues higher than AFC — is an AFC Sudbury player after manager Chris Tracey moved quickly to capture his signature this week.

And Tracey, a club legend as a no-nonsense defender himself, believes Smith can be the man to take over his mantle at the club and his presence can have a massive impact at The MEL Group Stadium.

After describing Smith as ‘Chris Tracey’, the Yellows’ boss said: “He doesn’t need to be the next me because he has certainly done more in his short career — because he is only 26 — than I ever managed to achieve.

“But he is a leader of men, he is a winner, he is a threat from set pieces, he is an organiser and he is something even when Nick was here we were looking for once I retired and that is what I see his role as.”

Smith was only unveiled as signing for reigning Ryman One North champions East Thurrock on November 28 and was playing for Farnborough in the Conference South last season, scoring a handful of goals, but made his AFC debut in the Suffolk Premier Cup defeat to Leiston on Tuesday

A 95th-minute winner by former Needham Market striker Nathan Stone cruelly ended AFC’s hopes of a Portman Road cup final this season, but they will have another chance to put themselves 90 minutes from a final when they make the long journey to East Sussex to take on Lewes on Tuesday (7.45pm) in the Ryman League Cup quarter-final.

Three days before that it will be de ja vu at The MEL Group Stadium as AFC take on second-placed Leiston again, this time in league action, looking to put last Saturday’s 5-1 defeat to Potters Bar Town, their heaviest defeat in the Ryman League, behind them.

Sudbury will be without Dave Wareham (hamstring), Jon Docker (groin), Tom Devaux (groin), captain Sam Clarke (suspension) or Steve Adams (holiday).

Of the Potters Bar defeat, Tracey said: “Saturday was an absolute joke and I will not comment other than I think the referee got the lowest score ever given by anybody at this football club.

“It was a freak result and that is how we look at it. We were the better side and you cannot compete with the ineptitude of the people involved in the game.”