I talked to a man a few nights ago, just a little older than me, a Forest man all his days. Joe Baker was his great hero as a youngster. He told me that in 1968, when he was just a boy, Joe visited him in the General Hospital in Nottingham. Joe took that little boy a football annual as a gift and signed a photo of him playing in Forest’s dashing away white strip of the time.
Please now flash forward to the early 2000s, not long before Joe passed away. The great centre forward came back to meet his adoring fans from the 1960s in Nottingham. (Joe and his memory continue to hold a very special place in Nottingham – just like everywhere he travelled.) My friend took his football annual from that hospital visit when he was a child to a tiny city pub, The Falcon Inn, where Joe was meeting old friends in town. The landlord who had informed of his visit him asked him to keep it quiet as he didn’t want the wee howf overrun with admirers and fans.
Another meeting some thirty-five years on and my friend got to meet his hero again. Joe apologised profusely to my friend that he couldn’t remember him as a child. He happily said that he’d signed many annuals for the sick children of Nottingham. My pal told him that he’d been his great hero and Joe simply replied, very humbly, that truly, he could never understand why he was so hero worshipped. He said that he was just doing his job which was being paid to score goals. He also said that his time in Nottingham had been the happiest time of his career and that he loved being here.
I’m a Hibs fan, born with it, I have green and white blood but boy did that last comment bring a warm feeling inside.
Joe Baker – gentleman, legend. God bless him.
6 thoughts on “Joe Baker – Gentleman and Legend”
I am from Leith. My Dad knew both Joe and Lawrie Riley and I often met all three in Lawrie’s pub: The Bowler’s Rest in Leith (opposite the bowling courts in Leith Links). When I was young I was attempting to make a Leith radio station and covered the Hands off Hibs situation as an intended pitch for funding. Joe made me stand in front of him and Pat Stanton was in front of me…!!! Seriously. That was a thrill that will never be forgotten.
Fantastic! What a wonderful experience to be in the company of those three Hibs heroes. I recall when Lawrie kept the Bowler’s Rest and the latter days of Joe’s time when he, Pat and Lawrie were matchday ambassadors. Friends of mine were heavily involved in Hands off Hibs too, it was such a desperate and worrying time. Thank god for HoH and Sir Tom Farmer at that time. The memory of Joe is still dearly held by many in Nottingham and of course, all those three gentleman and their memory will always be quite rightly revered in Leith, and certainly by me.
Thank you for your comments, Robert. GGTTH
I have been to Nottingham before, but not for football. However, Mr Clough is not far from the lips after anyone says the name of the town. Football is important. You should listen to: Off the Ball Radio Scotland, Sat./Sun. 12-2 pm. It is a football show that discusses what football fans care about – not the press!
I hope the gamble with lots of new players works out!
It was an amazing time for football in Nottingham – particularly in the earlier years when Brian was in the city. He just ruled the place! It was a tremendous amount of fun and some glorious football. You won’t surprised to know that there’s a stature of him in the city centre. I’ll go tosee both Nottingham teams at various time but am 100% Hibs.
I do listen to Stu and Tam every weekend, Robert – as I did today! Had a couple of texts read out on there ‘Stu in Nottingham’. Love the show and am an avid listever as are a few of my pals here.
An indifferent season for Hibs this year so far that’s for sure.Tend to think there are a few too many ‘experiments’ in the players recruited, hoping that they will come good.
My family are both Hibs and Celtic fans. St. Mary’s Star of the Sea (Leith) is the home to both Hibs and Celtic and my now dead ancestors were all part of that. I am not. Just a football fan but it is nice to know that I am connected to both teams. I have spent most of my adult life abroad, so your perspective changes. I am unsure if this ‘manager’ person is a good choice for Hibs…
That’s very interesting. I know St Mary’s Star of the Sea/Stella Maris and its great importance in the formation of Hibs and further, Celtic. In many ways I’m similar, I do enjoy football though but Hibs have a greater importance to me due to my own heritage and ancestors which I treasure. The Hibernian story is indeed a romantic one and one of caring for its local community. This mean a great deal to me – much more significant than just the game itself. If you haven’t already, I can recommend the late Alan Lugton’s trilogy ‘The Making of Hibernian’, partlcularly vol 1.
Wrote a little thing for Edinburgh tourism some years ago:
I also remain unconvinced about the current Hibs manager. I find him a little glib at times. Matters at the club seem at something of a crossroads in general it seems.