Footballer and manager;
Born: April , 1938; Died: August 24, 2013 .
GERRY Baker, who has died aged 75, following a short illness, was a fine footballer, but, is fated to be forever, "the other one" in one of the game's most-prolific goal-scoring sibling pairings.He and his more-celebrated younger brother Joe, who predeceased him 10 years ago, scored goals - lots of goals, but their part in Scottish football's global diaspora meant they are perhaps under-appreciated in their homeland.
They were, in every respect except birth, Craigneuk boys; however, their accidents of birth meant neither would ever play for Scotland, under the eligibility rules of the time.
Gerry was born in New Rochelle, New York, in 1938. His parents had decided to go West, feeling that the United States offered greater promise than Lanarkshire. However, with war clouds gathering the family returned to the United Kingdom, to Liverpool, where Joe was born in 1939, before re-locating back to Craigneuk.
Here the Fabulous Baker Boys - which just happens to be the title of a joint biography, written by Tom Maxwell and due to be published next month by Birlinn - began to excel at football, and at scoring goals. Gerry, went from Criagneuk Boys Club to Larkhall Thistle, where he faced the allegedly psycopathic defenders of junior football when still at school. He not only survived, he impressed, enough to win a contract as a trainee at Chelsea.
In May, 1955, he signed for Chelsea; but spent a mere 16 months at Stamford Bridge, playing one first team game, before home-sickness saw him return to his native Lanarkshire, to join Motherwell. Bobby Ancell was building his great "Ancell's Babes" side at that time and Gerry, then principally an outside left, found the way to the first team barred by Andy Weir, while the equally young Ian St John was already making the number nine shirt his own.
He played 11 first team games at Fir Park, scoring four goals, before, at the start of the 1958-59 season, he was transferred to St Mirren; where he signed-in with the winning goal in a 2-1 success over a Hibs team spearheaded by the other Baker - Joe. His timing in moving to Paisley was immaculate, by the end of the season he was a Scottish Cup winner, scoring in every round, including the final, where he bagged the decisive third goal as Saints beat Aberdeen in what is still considered one of the greatest footballing finals.
Saints were unable to defend the trophy the following season, but Gerry did earn huge headlines after he scored ten goals in the Paisley club's 15-0 demolition of Glasgow University in one of the early rounds. He was Saints top scorer in both 1958-59 and 1959-60, scoring 66 goals in 81 appearances, before he returned to England, with Manchester City, who paid £17,000 for his signature.
Things didn't work out at Maine Road, so he came back up the road, to Hibs, still seeking a reliable goal-scorer since selling Joe to Torino. Big brother Gerry fitted the bill, scoring at better than a goal every other game - 43 goals in 83 appearances and winning a third crack at England, with Ipswich Town, then managed by a man who knew all about goal-scoring, the great Jackie Milburn.
He scored consistently for the East Anglians, then moved on Coventry, where he settled. His final Football League stopping-off point was Brentford's Griffin Park, on-loan, before, after Coventry released him in 1970, he stepped down to become player-manager at Margate.
Gerry Baker played on until 1975 with Nuneaton Borough, Bedworth United and Worcester City, before taking a job in the Jaguar factory in Coventry, where he worked until he retired, and re-located back to Lanarkshire, to Holytown.
In all, he played 409 first team games in senior football, scoring 201 goals.
Joe famously led the England forward line while a Hibs player. It took Gerry longer to gain international status, but, in October, 1968, he won the first of his seven caps for the United States as he participated in their unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the 1970 World Cup finals.
The fact two players, both with broad Lanarkshire accents and schooled in Scottish football, should represent other nations internationally makes the Bakers unique.
Gerry was always a happy-go-lucky man; laughter was all around him. He was a frequent visitor to Love Street and New St Mirren Park, where the 1959 stars are held in high regard and though their numbers are dwindling now, are still great friends.
He was also highly-regarded by the Hibs fans. Gerry was quick, an athletic attribute he passed on to his daughters Lorraine and Karen. Indeed Lorraine, a one-time AAAs Champion, finished a close fifth in the 800 metres final in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
He was inducted into the St Mirren Hall of Fame in 2007 and one of the hospitality lounges at New St Mirren Park is named after him. Gerry Baker was always happy to speak about his career. He had time for the fans, an immense capacity to enjoy life.
Away from football he played golf, but, more-importantly, he lived life to the full. Joe Baker may, as an England centre forward and by his status as the only Hibernian forward after their time who might have got a game in the Famous Five, be considered the better Baker brother; however, by any standards, Gerry was also a top-class striker and he will be remembered as such.
His wife, Anne, predeceased Gerry last year, after a battle against cancer; however, daughters Lorraine and Karen and Gerry's four grand-children are not alone in mourning the passing of such a fine footballer.
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