HEREFORD United legend Ben Smith is enjoying life after the full-time professional game.
“I’m a teacher now and what a learning curve it is,” said the 34-year-old.
“I’m teaching everything and finding it quite tough. “Teaching kids who don’t really want to be there can be really challenging at times and frustrating but, when lessons go well and you feel that they have actually learned something, it’s really good.
“I teach business and economics to A-level, IT, maths, a little bit of science, philosophy - I don’t suppose there are many footballers who have taught philosophy although actually it’s talking about euthanasia, capital punishment and topics like that.
“I don’t know whether the kids are learning anything but I definitely am.”
He is also involved with the school’s football academy and his own football career has not been entirely forgotten.
“I started the season at Sudbury but I did not enjoy that at all,” he said.
“Now I’m at Thurrock and I’m playing under Mark Stevenson and Steve Nugent, who played for Tottenham and really knows his stuff. “I like the way he wants to play and he treats me well. It supplements my meagre teaching wage so playing is more of a necessity than a luxury.
“I still enjoy playing although I tore my lateral knee ligament just after Christmas and was out for two months.”
As if teaching and playing were not enough to keep him occupied, Smith is also set to become an author.
“I’m writing a book on my career and on the life of a lower-league player in general,” he said.
“A lot of people have the idea that it’s a glamorous life-style but, while being a lower-league footballer is a great life-style there are practicalities that a lot of people probably do not realise.
“That’s the sort of thing that I will try to illustrate.
“There will probably be a few things from Edgar Street that may surprise a few people.
“I want to be really candid – I will put in all my wages and what I have earned over the years. I think that is the sort of thing that people have misconceptions about; that we earn thousands and thousands of pounds.
“I have had some good years and earned some good money but it’s probably not as much as people think, I think that will give an insight.
“I had a few run-ins with Graham Turner although, as a rule, we got on really well. But there were a couple of times when we disagreed.
“It will be a really honest appraisal of my career and balanced as well. If I feel that something was not true or that I didn’t agree with it, then I will try to explain why I didn’t agree with it.
“And Gary Peters may get a few mentions as well.
“I’m aiming to have it written by Christmas but I’m not sure it will be ready to be published by then.
“I’ve written 42,000 words already so I’ve done a fair bit but I think I shall probably need to do close on 100, 000.
“It’s quite hard finding the time to do it after work.”
While he is enjoying his current mix of roles, there is still some uncertainty about where the future will take him.
“My contract at the school is just until the summer, so whether I stay doing that or do something else, I’m not yet sure,” he said.
“It’s just a case of taking it a year at a time.
“But it’s been a good experience and I take my hat off to teachers - they deserve a knighthood; no wonder they get the long holidays, they deserve it.”