By Rob Stewart

Former Huddersfield Town manager Mick Buxton has paid tribute to Steve Smith who has died aged 77 following a dementia diagnosis.

Mr Buxton – pictured above with Steve’s daughter Lisa and ex-Terriers Liam Robinson and Julian Winter, has spoken of the enormous legacy Steve left behind at the club.

Mr Buxton handed Steve a role on his Terriers coaching staff and his vast experience as a player was put to good use, coaching the club’s youth team.

Following Steve’s death, Mr Buxton spoke of his admiration for his former colleague and the ex-Town midfielder’s role behind the scenes.

“I think it’s fair to say that Stephen was worth his weight in gold to Huddersfield Town for the impact he had on and off the field,” Mr Buxton said.

“After serving Town with distinction as a player, Stephen went about his coaching role without much fuss at all and just got on with it in a quiet, unassuming way.

“And that’s how he used to go about his work when he was in the midfield trenches as a Town player.

“He was a very talented footballer and the fact that he served Town for a decade speaks volumes. He was a superb servant to the club in his playing days and he was just the same as a coach.

“In his own way, without any sort of shouting and screaming, he played an important role in our success at Leeds Road.

“There were just four of us coaching, me, John Haselden, Jimmy Robson and Stephen and we just clicked as a team.

“I was able to just let Stephen get on the job and he worked wonders with our young, up-and-coming young players, mostly from the Huddersfield area.

“Stephen played in the reserves with some of them where I’m sure they learned a lot alongside him and even played in an FA Cup game when we were short.”

Steve and Jimmy Robson helped Town’s rising stars to the 1984/85 Northern Intermediate League title and the runners-up spot in the N.I.L. Cup.

Mr Buxton added: “By my calculations, 20 lads came through the ranks and went on to have really good careers as professional footballers.

“There were the likes of Peter Valentine, Julian Winter, Liam Robinson, Peter Butler and Barnsley lad Ian Measham.

“Plus there was Robbie Turner, Paul France, Simon Trevitt, Andy Thackeray, Graham Mitchell, Andy Watson, the goalie Lee Martin and Ian Wadsworth.

“Those local lads and several more were talented youngsters who really applied themselves and worked ever so hard to make the most of the opportunities with Town.

“It’s been great to see how well they’ve done and Stephen helped them along the way in his own modest and humble way.

“They are evidence that Stephen left a real legacy at Huddersfield Town as a player and then as a coach and that’s why he will always have a special place in the club’s history books.”

Steve’s daughter Lisa said: “I know the club have lost a legend but I’ve lost my hero. He was brave right until the very end when he died ever so peacefully. There were lots of tears in the care home when he left us because everyone loved him.

“He had this amazing energy that used to light the place up and he was always the gentleman – holding the door open for ladies in the care home and always being a joy to be around.”

Steve’s funeral will take place on Monday April 8 at the John Smith’s Stadium at 11am and supporters are welcome to attend.

After the service, Steve will take his final journey along Leeds Road and Wakefield Road to Broad Lane and Long Lane at Dalton before arriving at Kirkheaton Cemetery at 1pm.

Steve, who lost his wife Judith 13 years ago, leaves daughter Lisa and son Gary and grandchildren Oliver and Isla.

Donations in lieu of flowers will go to Huddersfield Junior Football League and The Jeff Astle Foundation.