Going to games whenever you happen to be in Edinburgh for other purposes – in this case Christmas – does have its drawbacks. You end up spending a freezing afternoon watching tedious goalless draws against St Mirren for example. Despite the fact that this was Boxing Day, only another 7,499 people joined me at Easter Road for an entirely forgettable experience.
For the record Hibs lined up: Goram, Hunter, Sneddon, May, Rae, Mitchell, Kane, McIntyre, McCluskey, Collins and Watson, with McBride and Milne coming on for the two Macs, presumably only to prevent them developing frostbite.
The St Mirren squad featured a young Paul Lambert, and Brian Hamilton: ‘a strong attacking player he can also play well at left back or in central defence’ – aha, so that’s why Lexo signed him, he could never play him out of position…
Alex Miller’s ‘Backchat’ notes in the programme perhaps give some explanation for the lack of seasonal cheer: ‘As we look into 1988, I’m simply aiming to better last year’s points total in the league. If we can finish with more points than last year, then it will be an improvement we can build on.’ Stirring stuff, eh?
The Fabulous Baker Boys
Most Hibs fans will be familiar with the Joe Baker story already, but an interesting article in the programme for the Saints game will fill you in on Joe’s less illustrious brother Gerry, who also turned out for Hibs for a couple of years in the early 60s. Scroll down to read the piece.
Going back a bit further, I also have a piece from The Topical Times Football Book (number 1, 1959 – collectors welcome to make me a handsome offer…) on Joe and Gerry. Jump to the full article.
(Article from match programme v. St Mirren 26/12/87 – author not credited)
Where Are They Now? – GERRY BAKER
A few weeks ago we featured Joe Baker in this series, and today we are pleased to be able to include elder brother Gerry, who took over from his brother as Hibs’ centre in 1961-62.
Gerry is an American citizen, having been born in New Rochelle in New York State, where his English father and Scottish mother had settled, but as a baby was brought to his father’s native Liverpool, so that his father could assist the war effort, which unhappily he did not survive.
The family was later evacuated to Scotland, and Gerry was brought up in Motherwell, playing football first for his school sides of Park Primary and St. Joseph’s Secondary, as well as Craigneuk Boys Club. He was selected for Lanarkshire Schools, and took part in national trials, and puts his non-selection down to the fact that he had only one pair of boots throughout his secondary education, and so for most of the time they did not fit!
From boys club football, Gerry went to Larkhall Thistle, although he was only fourteen, and after only six games went to Chelsea, at fifteen. A year later he made his Football League debut, but did not settle at Stamford Bridge, and returned north to his home town team of Motherwell. Bobby Ancell was manager there, and was building his team with Quinn, St. John etc., and played Gerry at outside left, which was not the position he wanted, and so he was delighted to move to St. Mirren in early 1959, just in time to take part in the Paisley team’s historic Scottish Cup triumph against Aberdeen, in which Gerry scored one of the Buddies’ three goals.
He also recalls scoring ten goals in a Scottish Cup game against Glasgow University, especially as the last of them was a rebound which struck him in such a painful spot before going into the net that it took him three days to recover.
In 1961 Gerry crossed the border again, for a spell with Manchester City, who included Denis Law at that time, but again did not settle in the south. and one year further on, was brought north by Harry Swan to help Hibs, in danger of losing their place in an eighteen team first division. That was the dreadful winter of 1963, when Hibs stayed up by the skin of their teeth, but Gerry’s contribution was invaluable scoring over forty go als in his two seasons here, and recalling also his introduction to European football with Hibs in the Fairs Cup.
After two successful seasons with Hibs, Jackie Milburn signed Gerry for Ipswich, and so it was south for a third time – third time lucky, as Gerry has been happy in England ever since. Ray Crawford and Gary Bailey’s dad were at I pswich at that time, and Gerry stayed at Portland Road until 1967, when he went to Coventry City. In 1970 he retired from the game, although he had subsequent coaching and managerial involvement with Margate, Nuneaton Borough and Bedworth United.
Since then, Gerry has worked for Jaguar Cars, and has valued his leisure more so that he nowadays has no involvement with football – his game now is golf. In his day, Gerry was reknowned for his speed, but he hardly has a monopoly of that at home – his wife Ann was a champion sprinter, and both daughters, Karen, and Lorraine, who always causes David Coleman so much trouble to recall what exactly her father and uncle did, are both international athletes. No slouches in this family!
(Article from The Topical Times Football Book No. 1, 1959)
MY ACCENT IS SCOTS – but I play for England
By Joe Baker, Hibs
My brother Gerry and I must be the most mixed-up pair in football. Our parents were Scots. I was born in Liverpool. While I got a schoolboy cap, I am now barred from playing for Scotland, but have been capped for the England Under-23’s. Gerry was born in U.S.A.- so he can only play for America.
Certainly, if it hadn’t been for Gerry – he’s 18 months older than I and is St Mirren’s cup-winning centre-forward – I’d never have played football at all, far less alongside stars like Gordon Smith, Laurie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull, Bobby Charlton and the rest. As a youngster I couldn’t have cared less about the game. Gerry, on the other hand, was never happier than when chasing a ball – or, if there wasn’t a ball handy, a tin can or a lump of road metal.
We both started school at Park Street Junior School, in the Lanarkshire town of Wishaw. Gerry was such a football “natural” he was soon captain of the team. It was more or less left to him to pick the side and that put me right on the spot. I can remember pleading with him not to pick me, but he always came back with, “You’ll play and like it.” So I played. But I didn’t like it – not to begin with anyway.
But gradually I got the fever, and soon was as keen as Gerry. Though I played in a lot of positions in those days, I always preferred centre-forward. Probably because I had somehow got the knack of being in the right spot at the right time when the ball arrived in the goalmouth. I have no idea how many goals I’ve scored up-to date, but I do remember topping the century one season.
That was just before I switched to St Joseph’s Secondary School, also in Wishaw. I was now so keen I joined Motherwell Boys’ Guild (a juvenile club) so I could play on Saturday afternoons as well as for the school in the forenoons. Playing among boys older than myself no doubt helped me get my two Scottish schools international caps-against England and Wales – as well as a bundle of local honours.
Shortly after leaving school I became a junior with Coltness United. While there I was chosen for select sides of both the Lanarkshire and East of Scotland Junior Associations. Then along came Hibs. And there I was, only 17, a full-fledged professional with the club that had had the greatest forward line since the war. I knew it was going to be tough following Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Laurie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond. But I was determined not to let my sponsors down.
And what help I got from these great players. Thev . really bent over backwards to help me. That helps explain why I was in the league side after such a short apprenticeship – and was chosen to lead the England Under-23 side against Czechoslovakia and Poland last season. With my broad Lanarkshire accent I would never dream of trying to pass myself off. as an Englishman. But an Englishman I am – so far as football is concerned.
It was just through one of those quirks of fate that I happened to be born in badly-bombed Liverpool on August 17, 19401 was brought up to Scotland before I was old enough to know what went on- It was only when England’s selectors chose me for the Poland game that my birth place began to hold any significance for me.
What a thrill it was to wear that England jersey for the first time. And what a treat to meet and play alongside lads like Bobby Charlton, of Manchester United. Bobby Charlton! Now, there’s one of the greatest for you. I watched Bobby during a training spell practising penalty kicks. He told the ‘keeper exactly where he was going to place the ball, then thumped it into the back of the net 15 times – in the exact same spot every time!
Charlton apart, I consider the best young England prospect right now is Tony Allen, Stoke City left-back. I’ve never seen a defender with a better positional sense. His tackling and distribution are to match.
The international games themselves gave me plenty to think about. The continentals are fine ball artistes, but they have, I consider, one big failing. When things aren’t running for them, they’re far too prone to take the huff with one another. As a result, their team work suffers badly.
My proudest moment Without doubt that Saturday afternoon the season before last when I scored four goals for Hibs against our city rivals, Hearts.
When I finish my apprenticeship as an engineer, I hope to become a full-time player with Hibs – I believe in a player having a trade at his fingertips – After all, you never know the moment a simple accident is going to put you out of the game-perhaps for keeps.
We can’t all hope to have such a long and illustrious career as Billy W right, whom I consider the greatest footballer I have ever seen. I played against Billy when Hibs met Wolves in a floodlit game – I saw less of the ball than ever before, but I didn’t mind too much. In fact, Billy’s the one player I’m proud to have had a poor game against!
I like to potter about with cars and motor bikes. I’m also fond of golf, though I’m no great shakes yet at the game. Maybe I just can’t take my mind off football long enough to interest myself seriously in other things.