Jim Baxter

<p class="obit">James Baxter, footballer: born Hill of Beath, Fife 29 September 1939; played for Glasgow Rangers 1960-1965, 1969-70, Sunderland 1965-1968, Nottingham Forest 1968-1969; two sons; died Glasgow 14 April 2001.</p></p>The Glasgow Rangers wing-half Jim Baxter accumulated 34 caps for Scotland over six years, in an era when there were far fewer internationals. Three decades have passed since Baxter hung up his boots, and three and a half since he was at his peak ­ but at Wembley, on 15 April 1967, he contrived a performance for Scotland which, in the words of Alex Ferguson, who was present at the game, "could have been set to music".</p>According to the veteran football correspondent Geoffrey Green,</p>There were four cornerstones of the victory, each deserving of the praises of wandering minstrels ­ Law, dramatic, a blur of blue with his swift thrusts, commanding and infectious as he played for his very life; Baxter, cool, elegant and arrogant as he put his foot on the ball, reducing the tempo to a walking pace while he teased the wounded bull like a matador; Bremner, tireless and combative with fire and metal in his heels; and the baby of the party, McCalliog, a new cap who played the role of link man with surprisingly subtle maturity.</p>Scotland won 3-1, away and against the "auld Enemy", and England were the same side (other than Jimmy Greaves coming in for Roger Hunt) who had won the World Cup against Germany on the same ground a mere 10 months earlier.</p>Jim Baxter was born in the Fife mining village of Hill of Beath in 1939, and, after attending the local primary school, where he was nicknamed "our wizard", such was his natural skill with a leather ball, went on to Queen Anne's Secondary Modern School in Dunfermline. He was a natural comedian and "our wizard" gave way to another nickname, "Stanley", after Stanley Baxter.</p>It was his singular good fortune that the Headmaster, James Carmichael, was an ex-Services disciplinarian and football enthusiast. Carmichael took a keen interest in his pupils even after they left school and, resisting the temptation to sign forms for a glamour club, which for young Baxter would have been fatal, fixed him up with Halbeath Juveniles, who nurtured him and passed him on to Crossgates Primrose.</p>It was again good fortune for this potentially wayward youth that the Primrose was run by Bill Buckard and George Ferrier ­ tough Fifers from the coalfield. They disciplined him and, when he was 18, handed on a prodigious talent to Bert Herdsman, who ruled Stark's Park, Kirkcaldy, the ground of Raith Rovers, with his captain, "Iron Man" Willie McNaught.</p>By the time, in 1960, that he arrived in the competitive fishpond which was Scott Symon's Ibrox, Baxter was a seasoned article, not a callow and vulnerable, if talented, youth. Ever candid about his shortcomings in relation to drink, women, gambling and most known temptations, he told me, years later,</p>You ken, I would never have made it in today's circumstances. I needed bastards like Carmichael, Buckard, Ferrier, Herdsman and McNaught. Young players like I was would simply tell them to get stuffed and take their talent elsewhere. I owe them.</p>In 1961 Scotland's most humiliating match had taken place at Wembley, when England knocked nine goals past Scotland's débutant goalkeeper Frank Haffey with the Scots only managing three goals in reply. "What's the time?" went the popular joke. "Nearly 10 past Haffey." The unfortunate Haffey never played a game for Scotland again and Scottish goalkeeper humour was born.</p>I remember going to Hampden Park on Saturday 14 April 1962, along with 134,000 other people, as an afternoon off from canvassing in the West Lothian by-election in which I was the candidate. Miraculously the Scots turned the tables 2-0 on England, and as a political candidate I was most certainly the beneficiary of the feel good factor. I guess I owed much to Jim Baxter's sublimely skilful display that afternoon.</p>A year later, on 6 April 1963 at Wembley, the Scots again won 2-1. The Press Association (PA) referred to "the new-born riot of self- expression that bubbled freely from Baxter, Mackay, White and Law, the all-important quadrilateral that formed the heart of the Scottish effort." Baxter, particularly, at wing-half, was unequalled. His fluency, imagination and control raised echoes of the great Hungarian Josef Boszik in the 1950s and it was his field-day, quite apart from the scoring of both Scottish goals.</p>The PA described the scene,</p>Within two minutes Scotland were two up. Henderson, quick as a goldfish, dummied through a gap. But Flowers and the bewildered Byrne sandwiched him. The Dutch referee pointed with both hands to the penalty spot as if to emphasise his verdict. Baxter's shot was exemplary, his first-ever penalty kick.</p>On Saturday 11 April 1964, at 20 minutes to five on a stormy wet afternoon, we stood roaring in the deep bowl of the then unreconstructed Hampden Park. The yellow standards and the tartan bonnets waved; the roar was as persistent as had been the wind and rain all day. The crowd simply refused to budge. We were ecstatic, as PA judged: "Once Baxter and Law had got fire in their Scottish stomachs there was no comparison between the attacks and only untidy finishing kept the final margin close ­ Scotland 1, England 0." All around me agreed that Baxter was the man of the match.</p>England and Scotland drew at Wembley on 10 April 1965. The truth is that Baxter was not the force that he had been. In the previous December, just 30 seconds before the end of a European Cup tie away to Rapid Vienna captained by their great centre-half Ockwirk ­ in which Baxter's brilliance had brought Rangers a 2-0 victory ­ he sustained a broken leg. It was when Baxter was immobilised for so long, out for four months, that his drinking started and began to have an effect on his fitness.</p>England beat Scotland 4-3 at Hampden Park on 4 April 1966. Baxter was far from the inspiration that he had been. It was considered that it would be better if he left Ibrox and made a fresh start at Roker Park. The truth is that Sunderland were disappointed and in 1968 passed him on to Nottingham Forest, who were even more disappointed.</p>Baxter had done his greatest work by the time he reached his middle twenties. He had been simply uncanny in his judgement of angles, speed and flight of a ball. My personal best memory of Baxter on the field is actually in defeat. Frankfurt Eintracht were playing Rangers in the semi-finals of the European Cup, where in the final they were to lose 7-3 in that memorable game at Hampden Park where Real Madrid were to overwhelm them. Baxter proved that night that he could play for any club in the world and that was before he had won a Scottish cap.</p>Legendary drinking, going to parties and all other fleshly delights became part of his life. Yet his flamboyance was never that of the superficial dilettante. The charming happy-go-lucky aspect of his character ensured a certain appeal ­ not to mention enough headlines to paper a ballroom. It would simply have been impossible for somebody of Baxter's attachment to self- indulgence not to have left some damage in his wake.</p>I had one serious conversation with him ­ though I met him a number of times when he was in jocular mood. The conversation concerned his passionately felt dismay at the bigotry and antagonism encapsulated in the Celtic versus Rangers sharpness of recent years.</p>Billy McNeill, the former Celtic captain who was a contemporary and rival, was one of Baxter's closest friends for the past four decades. He says,</p>I think part of the friendship between Pat Crerand, Mike Jackson, myself and other Celtic players was due to the fact that when Jim arrived in Glasgow he</p> </p>didn't know anybody. For some reason ­ I can't remember how it came about ­ he fell in with us. Maybe it was different then. Old Firm players tended to be more friendly, perhaps because we respected each others' situation and views on the game. But Jim was a very good friend to have. With him, the religious element between Celtic and Rangers simply didn't come into it.</p>But although we were great friends off the park, he was a right cheeky bastard. He loved to rub our noses in it when Rangers were on top and he would take the mickey. We didn't like it one bit. But life for him was always just a ball. He played it to the full and possibly didn't allow himself to realise the talent he had.</p>By Tam Dalyell</b></p>
Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

ICT Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified ...

DT Design and Technology Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently for ...

Maths Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienc...

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on