Henry Newton and ‘King’ Joe Baker

It’s 1967, I’m nine-years-old and have recently been in an accident with a large Ford Consul hitting me and smashing both legs in several places. I’d been taken to the Children’s Hospital in Nottingham and was now enduring a long recovery, laid up at home with plaster casts from toe to top of thigh. Spending those never-ending days in my single bed, brought into the living room of my parents’ home in Redhill, Nottingham. Football was nevertheless a passion. Nottingham Forest’s terrific and tenacious midfield dynamo, Henry Newton, who went on to play for Evertonwas a particular favourite. It just so happened that he was seeing my older sister’s friend who lived nearby. Henry, hearing about this, offered to come to the house to visit this youngster who in a bit of a state. Kind man.

Henry took my autograph book away and passed it around the Forest dressing room to the array of stars in there and brought it back to our family home. He also brought the gift of a beautiful Christmas tree for our family. I was dumfounded and pretty well speechless at this star sitting talking to me and encouraging me in my recovery.

Who was who the star number nine was in that side too? ‘King’ Joe Baker of the Trent End, ‘Zigger Zagger’, world-class centre-forward, formerly of Hibernian, Torino and Arsenal.

I was completely overwhelmed by those visits and have never forgotten the kindness and inspiration of Henry Newton. Those autographs are still treasured andin my possession of course. Bonus points for any of the older fans that can recognise the other signatures there from the superb team that finished runners-up to the great Manchester United team of Best, Law and Charlton…

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