Academy graduate who enjoyed great success with his local club
The former Academy Graduate AJ Leitch-Smith first joined the club as a seven-year-old and would progress all the way through to the first-team and become a double Wembley winner.
The clever forward actually made his debut under former boss Gudjon Thordarson in what proved to be the Icelander final game in charge against Bury in September 2009.
It wasn’t until the season after that the Crewe-born forward really began to make his mark at first-team level. He scored his first goal in only his third ever appearance in an emphatic 7-0 win over Barnet in August 2010 and he followed that up with a late equaliser against Macclesfield in his next outing.
Leitch-Smith ended his debut season with 5 goals in 18 appearances and he continued to keep his place in the side when Steve Davis replaced Dario Gradi as manager in November 2011. He became a key member of our promotion winning side, scoring nine goals in 44 appearances. The most important of those goals saw him opening the scoring in the second leg of our play-off win over Southend United.
At Wembley Stadium, Leitch-Smith operated as the lone striker with Nick Powell supporting him and he was involved in Byron Moore’s second goal that sealed victory against Cheltenham.
Leitch-Smith started the following season in League One in the same rich vein of form. He scored a goal of the season contender in a 5-0 win over Hartlepool United in the Capital One Cup and scored in the first minute away at Scunthorpe in a 2-1 win.
The local lad would end the season with 6 goals in 35 appearances as Crewe finished comfortably in League One. He was introduced as a late substitute at Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final and he was unlucky not to make it 3-0 when his shot hit the underside of the crossbar.
His last campaign did not go as well in terms of goals and appearances. He ended his final campaign with just 2 goals in 24 appearances as Steve Davis chose to operate more with Chuks Aneke and the on-loan Tom Hitchcock and Uche Ikpeazu as his front two.
Leitch-Smith, 24, is a fine finisher and his Crewe stats saw him end with 22 goals in 88 appearances. His total appearances stand at 122.
As one of our kids and having such a long association with Crewe Alexandra, it will certainly seem a stranger place without the bubbly Leitch-Smith around the place.
We wish AJ every success with his future career.