Menu
Sport

Real hand of God used when this striker scores his goals

HAND OF GOD: Steve Smith, pastor at the Grafton Baptist Church and leading goal scorer for Grafton City Soccer Club in second division. PHOTO: PATRICK ALLEN
HAND OF GOD: Steve Smith, pastor at the Grafton Baptist Church and leading goal scorer for Grafton City Soccer Club in second division. PHOTO: PATRICK ALLEN

ENGLISH import Steve Smith has been anointed as the man to deliver Grafton City Soccer Club's grand final win when they take on Yamba at Rushforth Park tomorrow.

The skilled striker, and former Arsenal football school coach, has launched 21 goals into the back of the net this season.

But even if his side does win the second division soccer finale, Smith is unlikely to be partying late into the night.

On Sunday he'll be up and preaching to his congregation as pastor at the Grafton Baptist Church.

"I arrived in December after moving up from Canberra and the wife and my three boys have just fallen in love with Grafton," Smith said.

"I sent an email out to a few clubs asking if I could get a game of soccer in to stay fit, and Grafton City was the first to respond.

"It's a great club and I'm really looking forward to the final on Saturday.

"Hopefully, I can knock a few more into the net."

Sporting a few tattoos, and arriving at Rushforth Park on his motorbike, it is obvious Smith is no ordinary pastor.

The 34-year-old who grew up near Dover in England, is also an electrician by trade.

However, Smith "ran into a bit of trouble" and lost his job, which lead to him becoming involved in a youth offenders program that he eventually worked for.

After attaining his level one FA coaching certificate, he was invited to coach at the prestigious Arsenal Football School.

"I coached there for about six years, and at the same time started getting involved with the church," he said.

A missionary stint in South Korea for a year and a move to Australia followed but, given the brilliant winter weather in the Clarence Valley in the past fortnight, Smith isn't planning on going anywhere soon.

"It's been magic, and compared to Canberra, it's amazing how warm it is in winter," he said.

"We have just finished renovating the church, and I've done a lot of the work myself to save costs.

"It has cost around $80,000 so far and we spent around $30,000 of that on a kitchen which we hope to run a breakfast club for kids from.

"The church is straight across the road from Grafton Public School and kids can come along on Monday mornings and get their cereal or toast for a gold coin donation. If they don't have a donation, that's all right too. I'm hoping to get that up and running in the next few weeks."

While he may have more noble pursuits in mind later in the month, Saturday will be all about football for him.

Grafton City takes on Yamba in the second division final at 3pm, directly after Iluka and Maclean play off for honours in third division at 1pm.

"I'm confident that if we play our game, we control the ball and possession, and play with structure, we'll be hard to beat," Grafton City coach Tony Blanch said.

"Yamba is a physical side and have beaten us once this season, so it should be a good match."

Topics:  grafton city soccer club north coast football soccer steve smith