Like the Everton teams he managed, Walter Smith was in many ways a man of contradictions.

When conducting interviews, he would often play up to the gruff English caricature of our Caledonian neighbours.

Celebrated Dumfries-born actor John Laurie had been a stalwart at the Old Vic and claimed to be aghast when first reading that his character profile for Frazer in Dad’s Army merely comprised of “a Scot.”

Ian Lavender recalled that his co-star would lament: “I’ve played every part in Shakespeare, I was considered to be the finest Hamlet of the twenties and had retired but now I’m famous for doing this crap!”

Yet he’d gladly roll his eyes on cue and ham it up by belting out: “We’re doomed” for the belly laughs in a role that turned him and his mostly fellow veteran colleagues into national treasures.

It seems as though Smith was also acting out an alter ego to a certain extent.

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Among the numerous heartfelt tributes to the former Blues boss after his death aged 73 was announced on Tuesday, the ECHO’s David Prentice said: “It always irked me that Walter preferred to present a stern, dour visage to the media - a legacy of his time dealing with the Glasgow goldfish bowl. Because he was a genuinely funny man.”

Meanwhile, former player Kevin Campbell, who Smith signed for Everton, observed: “He seemed like a dour Scottish man who wouldn’t say much in front of the camera but behind the scenes he was always having a laugh, he loved a joke and could be boisterous at times.”

Such contrasts also marked the Everton teams he took charge of over just shy of four seasons in charge at Goodison Park where this classic straight man often found himself having to act as circus ringmaster.

Here was the man who steered the Blues – thanks to Campbell’s goal – to what remained their last win over Liverpool at Anfield for over 21 years.

Yet he also presided over what was arguably the club’s most-humiliating result in ‘the other’ Merseyside Derby against Tranmere Rovers, a 3-0 FA Cup reversal on home turf in 2001.

It would be another chastening 3-0 FA Cup exit the following year that brought down the final curtain on Smith’s Everton tenure – a quarter-final loss at Middlesbrough with the hosts netting three times in seven minutes before the break in front of a national audience on BBC One – yet the departing gaffer still had the selflessness to lighten the mood with some gallows humour towards the man who was professionally wielding the axe, his chairman Bill Kenwright.

With just one win in his last 13 Premier League matches in charge, perhaps Smith realised it was time to go, but his first words after being relieved of his duties were: “Okay Bill, who are we going to get to manage this great club of ours?”

The answer of course would be his compatriot David Moyes, whose youthful outlook proved to be a breath of fresh air at Goodison, remaining in the post for over 11 years.

The man who coined the phrase ‘The People’s Club’ would secure the top half finishes that eluded his predecessor, ensuring that unlike Smith who would briefly serve as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant, he’d leave Everton to take the top job at Manchester United, but he too would suffer an eerily-similar 3-0 FA Cup quarter-final capitulation against Wigan Athletic during his own final season.

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While for all the good work in his career, major silverware has eluded Moyes, Smith on the other hand, arrived at Goodison as a serial trophy-lifter.

Having built on the foundations laid by his Anfield-bound predecessor Graeme Souness at Rangers, whom he had served as assistant to, he steered the Glasgow giants to the last seven of their nine-in-a-row titles between 1989-97, to equal Old Firm rivals’ Celtic’s previous best.

During his time in charge at Ibrox, Smith was able to operate on a budget that would be the envy of even England’s biggest clubs.

A galaxy of stars were enticed to play for him, including the likes of Brian Laudrup, Basile Boli and Paul Gascoigne.

At Everton though, the transfer war chest was considerably more modest.

Not that Smith wasn’t given the kind of funds that predecessor Howard Kendall could have only dreamed of the previous season, on his initial arrival at Goodison – having been acquired from under the noses of Sheffield Wednesday having initially appeared bound for South Yorkshire.

While he’d been able to snap up some of the cream of European talent while at Rangers, one of the players who’d always been off-limits for him had been one of Scotland’s brightest gems, John Collins, who’d been a key player across the city for Celtic.

However, after two seasons at Monaco, the time was now right for him to snap up the midfielder, who despite already being 30 was seen as a major coup for the Blues.

Smith also raided the French league for Olivier Dacourt and Ibrahima Bakayoko.

Although the former would prove an impressive talent and later sparkle again in the Premier League for Leeds United, the latter was an expensive flop who was a shadow of the world-beater his numbers suggested he’s be on popular computer game Championship Manager.

And then there was Marco Materazzi. Another player of considerable ability – he’d go on to score in and win the World Cup final with Italy (also getting Zinedine Zidane sent off in the process) – but the final act of his solitary season at Goodison was seeing the big centre-back sat crying on the touchline after his third sending off of the campaign in a 2-0 win over Coventry City.

The funds also stretched to splashing out £3million on Prodigal Son David Unsworth who had been swapped for West Ham United’s Danny Williamson a year earlier and came home via a bizarre month-long spell at Aston Villa.

Unfortunately, owner Peter Johnson didn’t actually have the capital to back up such purchases and when the banks started to lean on him, he sold Everton’s most-valuable asset, fans’ favourite Duncan Ferguson behind Smith’s back to Newcastle United for £8million less than halfway through his first season.

A man of honour, Smith threatened to walk unless the true nature of the situation was made clear but it would be ‘hamper man’ Johnson who’d be sent packing, first relinquishing his title as chairman and ultimately selling the club to Bill Kenwright’s consortium the following year.

The 1998/99 season highlighted the wild fluctuations in form.

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An opening day goalless draw against Aston Villa at Goodison set the gloomy tone for the months ahead.

Eight weeks earlier Collins had held his nerve to score from the penalty spot for Scotland against World Champions Brazil with the eyes of the globe upon him in the opening match of the 1998 World Cup watched by a capacity 80,000 crowd at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis.

However, when making his Blues bow, he had his spot-kick saved by Mark Bosnich just seven minutes into the contest.

It proved to be an ominous portent for both Collins’ underwhelming Everton career and the fortunes of his side under Smith.

The stalemate was one of nine occasions in the Blues first dozen Premier League home matches in which they failed to score but a sudden change awaited.

After three home goals in six months, Everton then thrashed Middlesbrough 5-0.

Rather than prove the springboard to a revival though, the side sunk further though and by Easter Monday they were in the relegation zone.

Smith’s signing of Kevin Campbell proved inspired though and nine goals in the next five games from the on-loan Trabzonspor man – culminating with a 6-0 romp against West Ham United – steered the Blues clear of danger.

A second season produced the aforementioned Anfield success and included a celebratory 5-0 thrashing of Peter Reid’s Sunderland on Boxing Day after the news of Kenwright’s takeover was announced but with funds still tight, Smith often found himself turning to veteran players, with varying degrees of success.

For every Richard Gough there was a Mark Hughes.

The first summer of the new Millennium was a particularly turbulent time for Smith and Everton and he had to completely rebuild their midfield.

Nick Barmby defected to Liverpool while Don Hutchison and Collins also departed with Thomas Gravesen, Niclas Alexandersson, Smith’s old Ibrox charge Paul Gascoigne and Alex Nyarko all drafted in while Ferguson also returned from St James’ Park.

Ghanaian Nyarko had initially looked promising with the potential to become the Blues’ version of Patrick Vieira but it was at Arsenal that the player’s unsuitability for the English game was highlighted in startling circumstances when he asked to be substituted by Smith when a fan ran on to the pitch and offered to swap shirts with him in a protest of his contributions, or lack of them.

What proved to be Smith’s last season in charge started with home-grown heroes Francis Jeffers and Michael Ball both departing and despite a more senior Blueblood arriving in the shape of Alan Stubbs, after previous finishes of 14th, 13th and 16th, the slide could not be halted.

Two final throws of the dice on February 8 2002 again proved to be wildly contrasting.

David Ginola, the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year from 1998/99, was once famous for advertising L’Oreal shampoo but was all washed up by now.

That wouldn’t be an issue for his other last signing Lee Carsley but the bald-headed midfielder would instead become a parting gift for Moyes to utilise.

The right man at the wrong time? Perhaps.

Fate decreed that Everton never saw the best of Smith in terms of results but nobody will ever doubt either his commitment or integrity in attempting to revive their fortunes in what were mostly challenging circumstances.