THE PLAYERS

 

Players to wear the green and white of the Hibees.

Here is a growing collection of players and internationalists to feature for Hibernian throughout the years.

Position Centre Forward

Joe Baker holds the distinction of being the first England player to be capped for the national side while playing his club football outside the country, a feat he achieved while at Easter Road in 1959.

 

 

National team England
International debut 18th November 1959 (versus Northern Ireland)

 

Hibernian legend Joe Baker burst onto the scene with dynamic impact. Signing for Hibs from Armadale Thistle in 1956, Baker made his first team debut in a League Cup game against Airdrie at Broomfield in August 1957 after just six games for the reserves. His enthusiastic, exciting style of play and electric pace, allied to his film star looks, made Baker an instant hero with the Hibs fans.

His explosive arrival was a timely boost for the Hibernian support who were faced with the impending premature retiral of the legendary Lawrie Reilly at the end of the season.

Scoring his first goals for the club against Queens Park a few weeks later, he ended his first season with a more than credible 29 goals, and by the age of 21 had scored over 100 goals for the club. In his two spells at Easter Road Joe scored an incredible 169 times in just 190 games, including five against Third Lanark, four against Airdrie and nine in a 15-1 Scottish Cup demolition of Peebles Rovers in 1961, but he is perhaps best remembered for scoring all four Hibernian goals in the famous 4-3 Scottish Cup defeat of pre-match favourites Hearts in March 1958. His most prolific period came in the 1959-60 season when, with the assistance of the recently returned Bobby Johnstone, Baker scored a total of 42 league goals, a club record which stands to this day and is unlikely to be broken.

Although he spent the first few months of his life in Liverpool, Baker was Scottish in all but birth. Despite representing Scotland schoolboys as a youngster, international rules at the time prevented Baker from becoming a full Scottish international, despite his wish to play for Scotland. Baker would go on to make eight full appearances for England - his first coming when he was just 19 - with five of these coming while plying his trade in Leith. Having been capped for the Scottish Schoolboys against England in 1955, Baker recorded a unique double for the time when, in April 1960, he won a full England cap playing against Scotland at Hampden.

By this time Baker had become the most sought-after player in the country and soon after scoring in both legs of the famous Fairs Cup victory over Barcelona in season 1960-61, the Hibernian board of directors bowed to the inevitable and sold their star player to Torino for £65,000 - an incredible figure for the time.

However Baker's stay in Italy was far from happy, and at the start of season 1962-63 he was transferred to Arsenal, renewing his partnership with former Hibernian player Johnny MacLeod. At Highbury he won another three full caps and featured in the original pool of 40 players selected for England's 1966 World Cup squad, but narrowly missed out when the squad was trimmed to the final 22.

Moving on to Nottingham Forest in 1965, after which a short spell at Sunderland followed, Baker returned to his first love, Hibernian, in January 1971, scoring on his debut against Eddie Turnbull's Aberdeen as Hibs ended the Grampian side's record of not conceding a goal during the previous twelve games. Regrettably, a bad injury curtailed his second period at Easter Road and he retired from the game in 1974 after two seasons with Raith Rovers.

With regards to his international career, Baker himself admitted in later years that he found it difficult to play for England as he saw himself as Scottish and his thick Lanarkshire accent led to an accident in a taxi, which ended up involving the police, believing he was a mad Scotsman intent on wreaking havoc at the England team hotel, until Walter Winterbottom intervened.

Latterly a match day hospitality host at Easter Road, Joe Baker was an extremely popular figure with the fans, many of them not even born when he was setting the goal scoring records alight during his first spell with the club.

A goal scoring phenomenon throughout his career, he scored a total of 285 league goals on both sides of the border.

Sadly, Joe died in 2003 but he will never be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to have seen him in action.

 


 

Full name Joseph Henry Baker
Date of birth 17th July 1940
Place of birth Woolton, Liverpool, England
Height 5ft 7in

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