A club spokesman speaking to Vale's official site on the move saying : "It is a shame he has gone, but we offered him a new improved contract for next season and he has declined it and accepted a better offer from Carlisle. From a footballing point of view, we had to make that decision, whether to sell him or let him go at the end of the season for free. We felt it best for the football club to take the money and hopefully we can now go on and strengthen the side for next season."
Smith, had signed a new one year deal in the summer of 2006 with Vale after stalling over an initial contract offer but he seemingly feels now is the time to move on in his career. Jeff started his playing life at Hartlepool, where he made three appearances, before being let go by the Victoria Park side in May 1999, at which point he moved into the non-league scene with Bishop Auckland while having a full-time job as a postman.
His performances for the 'The Kiwis' earned him some rave reviews though and he completed a dream move into the then Nationwide Division One with Sam Allardyce's Bolton in March 2000. Auckland also receiving a healthy £30,000 when Smith made his first team debut in May 2001, the winger playing the full 90 minutes for Bolton in their 1-1 draw at the Reebok Stadium against Sheffield United. Unsurprisingly though, for a lad plucked from non-league football, first-team opportunities were limited with the Wanderers and Smith found himself going out on loan four times during his stay at the Reebok.
First up was Macclesfield for two months from November 2001 to January 2002 (seven starts, one as a used substitute, two goals), then came Scunthorpe for a month a mammoth two years later in January 2004 (one start, no goals). Straight from that spell at Glanford Park came another month on a temporary transfer, this time at Rochdale (one start, no goals), then finally two months with Preston North End, again on his return to the Reebok in March 2004 where he made five substitute appearances for the Lilywhites.
Smith's contract was up with the Trotters in the summer of 2004 and with the club not renewing his deal, where current Blues boss Neil McDonald was first-team coach at the time, he was free to be signed up by Martin Foyle's Port Vale in the summer of 2004 on a twelve-month contract. Further one-year deals were awarded to starting eleven regular, and first-choice Vale Park set-piece taker, Smith, in the two seasons on, with the 25-year old making 75 starts, plus 28 as a used substitute, and scoring seven goals in the process - one of which came at Brunton Park in Vale's 3-2 defeat in late November, in his time with the Staffordshire club.
So, Smith has now been brought in to Brunton Park for £60,000 on a two and a half year contract, and he is likely to be thrust straight into action for the Cumbrians at Brentford due to the long-term injury to United's only left-footed attacking player in Simon Hackney. With centre-half come occasional left-sided midfielder Peter Murphy also falling out of favour with Carlisle manager Neil McDonald due to his non-existent contract negotiations Hackney's injury has left the Blues with a big hole on that flank and the signing of Smith should hopefully cover that gap while also adding some good competition to the squad next season.
A Jeff Smith player profile interview can be listened to : here
First Team Transfers 2006-07 : Click here