Matty Smith targets silverware with 'ambitious' Derry City
DERRY CITY’s new signing Matty Smith is confident he can kick on from last season’s impressive goalscoring form and help the Brandywell club challenge for honours.
The 24 year-old Scotsman admits Ruaidhri Higgins’ ambitious plans for the Candy Stripes and the stellar new signings enticed him to sign on the dotted line on a two year deal, finally ending his transfer saga after weeks of speculation.
It was a major blow for St Patrick’s Athletic manager Tim Clancy who had tabled an offer for the ex-Dundee United man to return to last year’s league runners-up and FAI Cup champions.
Ex-Candy Stripes striker Eamon Zayed, now Head Coach and Technical Director for Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC, was also reportedly attempting to bring Smith to North America.
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However, Higgins and his assistant boss Alan Reynolds, who brought Smith to Waterford from Dundee in January 2020, flew into Scotland last month in an attempt to persuade the striker to join his Brandywell revolution.
Smith admits it was a ‘difficult decision’ to turn down the advances of his former club, St Pat’s but he’s ‘excited’ about Higgins’ plans for Derry and felt a move north was his best option.
“The gaffer and ‘Renny’ (Alan Reynolds) came over about a month ago and told me what they wanted for the season ahead and for the future of the club,” he explained. “That was obviously really exciting for myself. And now I’ve finally got it done, I can’t wait to get in with the lads and get started.
“Of course it was a very tough decision,” he continued. “I had a great season last season with St Pats with all the lads. It was fantastic. The thing with Derry, they signed a good bunch of players and playing against them last year was always tough. It’s good to get the deal done.”
Smith finished last season as St Pat’s top goalscorer with 12 goals and believes he can improve on last year’s numbers in a Derry team which has added some stellar signings in the close season.
“I had 12 league goals which was good,” he said. “The first year was a shortened season at Waterford and so maybe it was a case of integrating into the league. I didn’t know much about it. ‘Renny’, when I was at Waterford, helped a lot with that and then obviously the season after that with Pats, I kicked on and I hope to do that again with Derry this season coming and the next.
“I really enjoyed my time at St Pat’s last year. The fans and everything, it was a great year and I’d obviously like to thank them as well, the fans and club. I don’t think they’ll be too bad on me,” he smiled.
“I just need to build on last season’s performances because you’re only ever as good as the season that’s coming up. The players that have come in, I think it’s going to be a riveting season for us and hopefully I can play a big part in it with a lot of assists and a lot of goals would be good.”
Expectations are certainly rising on Foyleside and Smith, who arrives in Derry this evening, believes the club has the potential to mount a serious challenge for major honours and run Shamrock Rovers close in the league.
“I know one or two boys from last season and what they said about the club was just all good things and then with all the new signings as well it’s going to be a big season for us and I’m looking forward to it.
“I wouldn’t have come to the club if the ambitions weren’t there,” he insisted. “That’s what the manager has set out for us to do. Obviously they got into Europe last season and we want to have a good European run. I know ‘Renny’ from the past as well and he’s a good coach and I’m just looking forward to getting to know all the lads.”
Of course Derry finished 24 points behind the champions last year while St Pat’s were 16 points adrift in second and so it’s going to be a difficult challenge if they’re to enjoy a title tilt.
“Of course it will be a tough season as it is every year. It’ll be more so this year because more teams are really strong so it will be a tough season. For myself and with the boys we’ve got at the club I think everyone knows we should be up there challenging.”
Higgins has assembled a formidable looking strikeforce with Smith joining Jamie McGonigle, James Akintunde and Michael Duffy and the likes of Patrick McEleney, Brandon Kavanagh, Will Patching and Joe Thomson providing firepower from midfield.
The City boss has plenty of options now and while Smith has missed most of the club’s pre-season, he’s confident it won’t take him long to get up to pace with the rest of the squad having kept himself in good shape while back home in Scotland.
“There’s no worries about that. Obviously I’m just missing match fitness and you don’t get that from just training every day. So there is a bit for me to catch up on but I wouldn’t be worried about that and I’ll be raring to go.
“But I will bring that firepower as well hopefully. I play with a bit of freedom and can play on the left, up top and hopefully I bring goals. I just want to express myself and I’ll give it 100 per cent.
“It’s always good to have a new challenges and new environments. I don’t know too much about Derry to be honest so that’s something I’m looking forward to as well. It’s something new for me.
“I’ve been to the Brandywell before and even with few fans in you always knew you were in for a tough game. I’m really excited to be a part of this and am very much looking forward to playing in front of a packed house there.”