Monday, 26 March 2012

Any mention of Jim Baxter & it is all too easy to conjure memories of the keepie up at Wembley 1967 & that short period of mastery over England, an all too brief spell as World Champions. A month later the crown passed to The USSR with a 2-0 defeat in a Hampden friendly. The England game itself was a qualifier for the 1968 Euros and our quest for glory was effectively ended that October in a 1- 0 defeat in Belfast. Slim Jim already passed his prime played only one more time for his country at home to Wales with a 3-2 victory.
A Fifer who started his career at East Fife he was quickly bought by Rangers after a starring performance against them. His class ,confidence and style along with arrogance quickly endeared him to the Scottish football public, Celtic fans included, except in Old Firm games I would guess. A classy left foot which sprayed the ball around the pitch he had joined a good Rangers team who were to win many trophies. He had of course an impish sense of humour and was so indispensable to the Gers that his bar tab was paid by the club at the St Enochs Hotel. It was indeed a legendary bar tab. His leg break in Europe was a turning point and he had a poor career in England.
A 1960 debut against N Ireland , 34 caps followed and 3 goals including 2 against The Auld Enemy. His greatest performance was however in the 1963 2-1 victory in London. The Wembley pitch was made for players such as Jim and there is a story that in the closing minutes he approached the goalie Bill Brown and advised him that:
  • He planned to score a hat-trick
  • If in the final minute the score remained 2-0 he would score an own goal.
Seemingly Brown had no doubts as to Baxter's honesty and was probably mightily relieved in some sense that England scored a consolation.
A Scottish fitba hero & one we will never see again. We however won nothing with Jim nor with any of that great squad of players.

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