Jim Baxter

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Jim Baxter
Jim Baxter statue Hill Of Beath.jpg
Memorial in memory of Jim Baxter
in his hometown of Hill of Beath, Scotland
Surname James Curran Baxter
birthday September 29, 1939
place of birth Hill of Beath , ( Fife ),  Scotland
date of death April 14, 2001
Place of death GlasgowScotland
position midfield player
Years station Games (goals) 1
1957-1960 Raith Rovers 62 0(3)
1960-1965 Glasgow Rangers 136 (18)
1965-1967 Sunderland AFC 87 (10)
1967-1969 Nottingham Forest 48 0(3)
1969-1970 Glasgow Rangers 14 0(1)
National team
Years selection Games (goals)
1960-1967 Scotland 34 0(3)
1 Only league games are given.

James Curran "Jim" Baxter (born September 29, 1939 in Hill of Beath , Fife , Scotland ; † April 14, 2001 in Glasgow , Scotland) was a Scottish football player and was very successful for the Glasgow Rangers in the 1960s . The tricky left midfielder also appeared several times for the Scottish national team as a key player in prestigious duels against the archenemy from England . Due to his often eccentric lifestyle, he resembled players like George Best or Jimmy Greaves in several ways .

Athletic career

First steps

Born in the Fife area, Baxter played for a team called "Crossgates Primrose" in his youth, then worked in a mine and began his footballing career in 1957 when he joined the Raith Rovers on a part-time basis . There he drew attention to himself early on with his elegant style of play and came a year later to his first international match for the Scottish U-21 national team against the selection of Wales.

Rise to the top player

For the then Scottish record transfer fee of 17,500 British pounds, the 20-year-old Baxter moved to the Glasgow Rangers in 1960, to whom he had been attached since early childhood. He made his debut on August 13 of the year in the League Cup against Partick Thistle and after the championship debut in a duel with the same opponent, he scored his first goal on November 5 in a 3-1 win against FC Clyde . Before local rivals Celtic Glasgow began to dominate for nine years as a series winner of the Scottish Championship in 1966, Baxter had provided the most successful Scottish football team with the Rangers at the beginning of the 1960s. Baxter won three championship titles in 1961 , 1963 and 1964 , as many trophies in the Scottish FA Cup ( 1962 , 1963 and 1964 ) and even four league cup editions in 1961 , 1962 , 1964 , 1965 . He secured his first league cup success in the early stages of the 1960/61 season in October with a 2-0 win against FC Kilmarnock and after winning his first championship even reached the final in the first ever European Cup Winners' Cup . There, the newly crowned Scottish champions lost 2-0 and 2-1 against Fiorentina in the first and second leg .

Baxter, who was referred to as "Slim Jim", developed more and more into a decisive player in the Rangers and exuded great self-confidence in setting up and controlling the game thanks to his technical expertise. As a result, the path to the Scottish national team was inevitable and after his debut in a British Home Championship game against Northern Ireland in 1963 - almost two and a half years later - he scored the two goals for the 2-1 win against England at Wembley Stadium - also during of a British Home Championship game. It was noteworthy that the Scottish team had to end the encounter with ten players because Eric Caldow had broken his leg early in the game and substitutions had not yet been allowed at that time. But Baxter's performance against England in 1967 was to evoke a far greater response. Scotland defeated the reigning world champion, who had won the title only nine months earlier, 3-2 at the same place and it was above all the "left-footed" Baxter who publicly displayed his technical superiority on that day, especially over Alan Ball tried to mock his opponent with cabinet pieces. This underlined his reputation for often playing an arrogant style of play, but it also led to great recognition in the camp of Scottish supporters who jokingly dubbed themselves “world champions” after the victory. Baxter came to a total of 34 international appearances for Scotland during his career.

Its high status in world football at this point in time can also be seen in three nominations for special games. On October 23, 1963, he came on as a substitute for Czechoslovakian vice world champion Josef Masopust in the second half and played as the left runner at Wembley Stadium together with Denis Law, who was on the right side, in a world selection against the English national team on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the English Football Association (FA) - the game ended 2-1 for England. More than six months later, on May 20, 1964, he played a European selection against the best Scandinavian players in Copenhagen - the occasion was the 75th anniversary of the Danish football association " Dansk Boldspil Union " (DBU) - and won with 4: 2. On April 28, 1965 he was also invited to the farewell game of Stanley Matthews in Stoke-on-Trent and acted in a British selection against the "rest of Europe" (the islanders lost 4-6).

The early retirement

Baxter played his last game for the Rangers in April 1965, before moving to English first division club Sunderland for £ 72,000 . There, however, he only played in the lower half of the league table and could mostly not repeat his performances shown in Glasgow. On the other hand, his activities outside the field increased, which were reflected in frequent and often excessive alcohol consumption and cemented his reputation as a " womanizer " during this time. In December 1967, Baxter left Roker Park for £ 100,000 for the Nottingham Forest Association . But he was just as unable to provide the usual playful accents there, so that he returned to Ibrox Park only 18 months later . As with many other highly talented players of his generation, the stimuli outside of football - and an associated "training laziness" - had accelerated Baxter's athletic decline.

Even at his previous place of success, time could not be turned back and the 3-2 win against FC Aberdeen in December 1969 was Baxter's last game for his club. A short time later, he announced his retirement from football after a total of 254 games and 24 goals for the Rangers.

Life after football

Baxter operated his own bar at times and his constant addiction to alcohol - along with a pronounced passion for gambling - led to more and more health problems at Baxter. After two life-saving liver transplants in 1994, he promised to quit alcohol. However, he had not lost his self-deprecating humor, which was partly responsible for his great popularity, and when he was posted he joked with the statement "If I am lucky I will get the liver from George Best". His answer to a question as to whether the meanwhile very high player salaries in professional football had an influence on his lifestyle also became famous when he said: “Sure. I would have left £ 50,000 a week with the bookmakers instead of just £ 100 ”. However, he was never able to finally win the fight against alcohol and was later often seen in the restaurants of Glasgow.

On April 14, 2001, Baxter lost a long battle against pancreatic cancer and six days later he was buried in Glasgow with great sympathy from many British football fans and companions.

useful information

  • In a total of 18 duels against Celtic Glasgow, in which Jim Baxter was involved, the Rangers lost only two games. Nonetheless, Baxter enjoyed high esteem among the supporters of the local rival, which was most recently expressed in public expressions of sympathy after his death.
  • Manchester United's future coach Sir Alex Ferguson called his former teammate the best Rangers player of all time.


Individual references & footnotes

  1. Original quote: "It'd be just my luck to get George Best's liver"
  2. Original quote: “Definitely. I'd have spent £ 50,000 a week at the bookies instead of £ 100. "
  3. "Celtic fans and Sir Alex pay tribute" (BBC Sport)

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