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Dr. John Smith was a Scottish footballer during the 1870s and 1880s. One of the larger-than-life Corinthians of his generation, he was notable for also playing rugby union and was a member of the first British Lions team that toured Australia and New Zealand in 1888.

Smith, born in Ayrshire, was a classic British number 9 on the pitch. A burly, strong brute of a striker, he also played as a forward on the rugby field.

Having played for Edinburgh University while studying, he graduated to the great Scottish side of the day, Queens Park, who - like Corinthian - were strictly amateur without exception. Already a Scottish international, he later became the first man to score a hat-trick in a Scottish Cup final as Queens Park swept aside Dumbarton in 1881. It would be his first of three winners medals over the next four years.

In 1884, Smith was a part of the Queens Park side that became the only Scottish team to ever reach the English FA Cup final. Their tournament run had seen some extraordinary victories which demonstrate just what a force they were. Beating Crewe Alexandra 10-0 and then Aston Villa 6-1. They faced Blackburn Rovers in the final.

Temporary stands had to be built for the game at the Oval, and a record crowd attended the game which Blackburn Rovers clinched 2-1. Controversy reigned, however, as the referee admitted to not awarding Queens Park a late equaliser - not because he didn't feel that a goal had been scored by Smith, but because none of the Queens Park side had appealed for one!

Befriending the Corinthians during the club's various tours to Scotland, often acting as their guide on nights out in Edinburgh, Smith became a Corinthian in 1884 and went on to win ten caps for Scotland, scoring as many goals.

At rugby too, Smith excelled and he played as a forward for Edinburgh University and Edinburgh Wanderers before becoming a member of the Scottish national squad. In 1888 he was selected as a member of the first British Lions team to ever tour New Zealand and Australia. 

Leaving on the 9th of March, the tour contained an extraordinary 35 fixtures before they returned to Britain on the 11th November, over 8 months later. They won 27 matches and lost just 2. And it certainly wasn't without incident either - the touring captain, Robert Seddon, tragically drowned on the 15th of August in an accident while sculling on the Hunter River in West Maitland.

It was a truly historic tour which was honoured in 2013, with all the players involved being inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. 

Dr John Smith, a man who achieved many remarkable firsts is another quite extraordinary Corinthian. 


The first British Lions rugby union team to tour the Southern Hemisphere. Dr J. Smith stands wearing a cap, with arms folded, 6th from the right.



Explore our Corinthian 1882 collection now. Below is our Watson Jacket, inspired by another extraordinary Scottish Corinthian:

Corinthian 1882 Watson Jacket

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