Former Hibs player John Baxter had been planning to make a rare trip back to Easter Road today before passing away this week, aged 78.
Baxter appeared 307 times and scored 32 goals during a distinguished 11-year spell with the Hibees between 1955 and 1966.
The Glaswegian had been suffering from problems with his heart of late. Nonetheless he intended to make it through to Hibs’ home match against Alloa this afternoon, when he had hoped to catch up with some old faces.
“He phoned me at the start of the week as he was wanting to come through to the Alloa game,” said John Fraser, his friend and former Hibs team-mate. “I was going to arrange tickets for him.
“I was telling him he could meet some of the old boys through the Ex-Players’ Association and I was looking forward to it.
“It was a real shock when I heard just a couple of days later that he’d passed away.”
Baxter – known as “Chinny” to supporters and “Stanley” to his close friends – was a left-half who joined from Benburb in 1955. He made his debut two years later before featuring in the 1-0 defeat by Clyde in the 1958 Scottish Cup final. The only goal of the game was deflected in off Baxter.
He also starred in famous European victories over heavyweights like Barcelona and Real Madrid in the early 1960s. “John played against all the top teams and he certainly held his own against them,” recalls Fraser, also 78. “He was the engine room of the team, a real grafter.
“He was appreciated by his team-mates and the fans. He played when Hibs were winning lots of European games so it was a good time for them. He was a regular first-team player for most of that time.
“He was very outgoing and very popular in the dressing-room. The Hibs fans of our era will remember him fondly so it’ll be quite sad for our generation on Saturday.”
The club will pay tribute to Baxter with a minute’s applause before today’s match against Alloa.