DOB: 9 February 1912
Died: 24 July 1967
From: Fairfield Band Of Hope/Northcote
Number: 27 1934-1935
Games: 19 (95 total)
Goals: 3 (55 total)
Leonard Victor "Len" Smith, the brother of Norm had played in two VFA premierships in over 100 games for Northcote before joining Melbourne in 1934. His recruitment was no surprise considering he had starred for the Brickfielders, but the Demons would get so much more after his father Vic suggested they might want to have a look at younger son Norm as well.
Smith would probably have made his debut in the first round of 1934, but Northcote rejected a clearance for the fifth time. He won his freedom to join the Demons before Round 2, but wasn't able to join Melbourne until a week into the season as Northcote required his services until the end of May. He played 70 games for the club. Once he made the switch to the Demons Smith played 13 of the last 14 games of the season.
Surprisingly omitted from Melbourne's list at the start of 1936, Smith returned to Northcote to win another flag that year 1936. In late 1937 Fitzroy persuaded him to return to the VFL. Smith then played with the Lions until 1945, though his career was interrupted in 1943 and 1944 when service with the RAAF in Darwin kept him out of the game.
In 1948 he started his coaching career with the Fitzroy Under 19's, and guided his side to the 1955 premiership. At the end of 1957 he was promoted to the senior role, but just as his side was in contention for second place in 1958 Smith suffered a heart attack. He returned for the finals, but they had missed the double chance and were knocked out in the first week. The next year they missed the finals by half a game, a round 14 draw with the Demons not helping their cause.
1960 saw Melbourne and Fitzroy finished 1st and 2nd on the ladder, and the brothers were pitched against each other in a semi-final. Despite Len's Lions entering the match with a nine game winning streak they were beaten by ten goals. It remains the only time siblings have coached against each other in a VFL/AFL final. The next year Smith was made coach of the Victorian state team - following in the footsteps of his brother who had already done the job.
In 1963 he moved to the VFA to coach Coburg, but returned to the VFL with Richmond in 1964. He suffered a heart attack the day before Round 1 and missed the first six games of the year. In May 1965 he was forced to resign after three rounds when his health deteriorated further. Coincidentally this was the same time that his brother had been sensationally sacked by the Demons, and it was initially believed that Len would be replaced by Norm at Punt Road.
Smith passed away after another heart attack in 1967. Just two months later the rebuilding process that he had set in motion came to fruition, and the Tigers won the premiership under Tom Hafey. His grandson Wayne Harmes went on to play in a Carlton premiership side.