Former Collingwood and Sturt ruckman Fred Smith is having his battles with illness at the moment, but he still took time to relive some memories when he called in to Collingwood’s Captains Run training session at the West Adelaide Football Club today.

Accompanied by family including two of his daughters, Donna and Jodie, the 82-year-old Smith was an interested onlooker as the Magpies went through their paces, and he was given a welcome surprise when Collingwood CEO Craig Kelly presented him with a framed jumper celebrating his achievements at Victoria Park.

Despite playing only one senior game for the Pies, those achievements were considerable.

As well as being a senior player, he played 56 games in total across all three grades and had the rare distinction of winning two best-and-fairest awards for the Collingwood Under-19s. He also played a key role as first ruck in the Under-19s first-ever Premiership in 1960.

A senior debut followed early in the 1961 season, against Fitzroy. But injuries ruined much of the rest of that year, and he crossed to Sturt in the SANFL. He had a brilliant first season there, winning selection in both the SA state team and the Adelaide Advertiser’s Team of the Year.

He suffered a serious knee injury early in 1963 that forced him to the sidelines for the entire season. Then, preparing to make a comeback in 1964, he was knocked over by a car while crossing a road in Adelaide and suffered multiple serious injuries, missing two seasons of football and eventually forcing his retirement from the game.

In the end, Fred’s was a highly promising career cut short by a succession of injuries. He’s now battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, but still took great delight in the Pies’ Premiership triumph last September.

And the gift-giving wasn’t all one way on Saturday. Fred and his family have donated his old Collingwood jumper and blazer, as well as his dual Under-19 best-and-fairest awards, back to the club for display in the Collingwood Museum.