Obituary: Gerry Baker, footballer, 75

Joe Baker, right, and Gerry Baker at home at in Motherwell  in 1960.

Joe Baker, right, and Gerry Baker at home at in Motherwell in 1960.

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GERRY Baker, one half of the most famous footballing family duos in Scotland, has died in Wishaw aged 75.

He was born on April 11, 1938 in Rochelle, New York, to Scottish mother Lizzie and English father George, following their brief move to America.

Gerry Baker. Picture: Greg Macvean

Gerry Baker. Picture: Greg Macvean

Gerry’s family moved back to Britain after the outbreak of war, where his father enlisted in the merchant navy in Liverpool. His brother Joe was born in 1940, but after the city was blitzed, Lizzie took the boys north to Motherwell.

Shortly after, Gerry’s father died of injuries after his ship was torpedoed.

Both brothers turned to football at an early age, but were never rivals. Indeed, Joe often stated that it was his elder brother who encouraged him to play football.

They both attended St Joseph’s Secondary School. Gerry was selected for Lanarkshire Schools and played for Craigneuk Boys Club before joining Larkhall Thistle where he was spotted by a Chelsea scout who signed him at the age of 15.

Both played for Hibs, but at different times, and both were internationalists, but for different countries. Gerry was capped seven times for the land of his birth, the USA, while his younger and more famous brother played eight times for England.

Both were the same height, 5ft 7ins, and had the striker’s attributes of an eye for goal and natural speed, with Gerry being particularly fast. Playing regularly for St Mirren Gerry became one of that club’s legends when, in the 1959 Scottish Cup Final, he scored the third of St Mirren’s goals in their 3-1 victory over Aberdeen in front of 108,000 people at Hampden Park. Almost 50 years later, his feats were recalled when he was inducted into the St Mirren hall of fame in 2007.

Gerry went on to score 43 goals in 83 games for Hibs, before he was transferred to Ipswich Town in 1963 for the then hefty fee of £25,000. He scored 58 goals in his successful 135-match spell at Ipswich before moving to Coventry City for three seasons.

Dropping down to non-league football as player/manager at Margate, Baker suffered injuries, and he left the club in 1971 to work at the Jaguar car factory in Coventry where he spent many happy years.

Gerry enjoyed a long marriage to Anne (née Stevenson) a double olympian in the 800 metres. They had two children and four grandchildren.

He was a friendly and personable man and always thought of Scotland as home, and indeed moved to live latterly in Holytown, Motherwell.

The brothers’ biographer, Tom Maxwell, has written their joint story, The Fabulous Baker Boys: The Greatest Strikers Scotland Never Had, which will be published next month.

He recalls that far from any sibling rivalry, the Baker brothers were entirely supportive of each other and almost regarded themselves as “twins”.

Tom said: “Any time I spoke to Gerry about Joe, it was always in the most glowing terms. They had an excellent relationship – he described Joe as being like ‘his twin’.”

Gerry is survived by his children and grandchildren.