Following his release from Raith Rovers, Gordon Smith is ready to go part-time to resurrect his footballing career.
The former Hearts striker feels he must play every week in what is a make-or-break season ahead and is considering an offer from a part-time club in League One.
Aged 23, Smith wants a manager who will let him flourish after three years as a bit-part player with both Hearts and Raith. He has no qualms with dropping out of full-time football to do so and is adamant he can return to the top level again if given the chance to prove himself.
“I’ve had a few phonecalls and I’ve had an offer from a League One team,” he told the Evening News. “I’m enjoying a holiday and then I’ll assess what options I’ve got. The offer I’ve had appeals to me because I know the manager there and I know he’ll give me a good run in the team. I’ll probably play most weeks, which is what I’m looking for.”
Raith released Smith and former Hearts and Hibs defender Fraser Mullen last month. The forward expected to be leaving Stark’s Park despite only arriving last summer from Tynecastle. “It wasn’t a surprise because I was only a bit-part player. I was only used every second or third game and I didn’t play as much as I wanted to.
“Although the Championship would be a good division to play in next season, I want to play more so I was never going to stay anyway. I need to be playing 30 to 40 games a season, not 15 to 20.
“There were three strikers at Raith. One played every week, and me and the other one got spells of one game every couple of weeks. I only played 90 minutes five times out of 40 games last season. I scored twice against Dumbarton in February but I was back on the bench by the next weekend.
“I need a season of consistent starts. I want to play 90 minutes 30 times instead of five times. I just want to go somewhere I’m going to enjoy my football. The only way I’ll improve and get back to the level I want to be at is by playing every week, not being a sub one week and maybe getting an hour the next week.”
Going part-time would raise the issue of finding a day job, but Smith already has a plan at the back of his mind. “Me and Jason Thomson [Raith captain] went to do a college course on fitness instructing,” he explained. “I’d probably try to stay in sport and work in a gym or do some coaching or something along those lines.
“I did okay at school and got some decent grades. My dad [Gordon, also a former Hearts forward] is self employed as a painter and decorator so, if the worse came to the worst, I could try that.
“Firstly, I’m looking at getting myself a team where I’ll play every week. All it takes is one good season and I’ll be right back where I think I should be – at a good team playing full-time. I’ve been thinking about this for the last six months. When I wasn’t playing at Raith I was thinking where I go from here. Part-time football is obviously going to come into the equation and I’m not too fazed about it. I know I’ll keep myself fit and, if I’m playing every week, it will be just as good as full-time football. It doesn’t matter how much you train, if I’m playing more games then it will benefit me more.
“All I need is a season or two of playing every week and I know I can play in the Premiership. I’ve seen boys who came through at Hearts and who I played beside for Scotland Under-19s and they’re playing every week. They’ve benefited from that. It’s just getting that manager who believes in me and trusts me enough to play me every week.
“I’ve only had one season as a professional when I’ve played every week and that was when I was on loan at Stirling Albion [season 2010/11]. They got relegated but I won player of the season and I was their top goalscorer with 12 goals. That proves I can score goals and do well if I get a run. I believe in myself, I just need a manager to do that as well.”
Smith is preparing to take one step back before hoping to take two forward and knows the next 12 months could decide his career. “I’m not going to give up on playing football. I’ve loved it since I was young. I’ll find somewhere that’s right for me. This is another big season coming up.”