By: Hibernian Media on 12 Dec, 2014 10:36
Hibernian are saddened to learn that former player John Baxter has passed away. He was 78.
An undemonstrative, but monumentally resolute wing-half, who combined technical excellence, long-term consistency and a willingness to put Hibernian first at all times.
Signed from Benburb in 1955, Baxter proceeded to make his first team debut against Aberdeen in September 1957 – after undergoing National Service – and the 20-year-old gave a mature, self-possessed display.
Then three weeks later Baxter opened his goal account when he scored against Airdrieonians during a 4-0 win at Easter Road.
Hibernian’s other goalscorers that day were Eddie Turnbull, Lawrie Reilly and Tommy Preston – Baxter didn’t look out of place playing alongside a pantheon of all-time greats.
Not only could he tackle with awesome power, but he was also a perceptive passer and a superb motivator, whose self-confidence and belief permeated to his colleagues.
The square-jawed wing-half was capped at Scotland under-23 level in 1958 and the general consensus amongst the regulars on Easter Road’s terraces was that his form merited an appearance with Scotland’s senior team.
A popular figure amongst team-mates and supporters alike, Baxter was an efficient component in an exhilarating team, containing the prolific Joe Baker, and he was clearly an accomplished performer in Scottish football’s top tier.
But it was when Hibs had their backs to the wall that the indomitable wing-half was seen in his full glory – throwing his 12st frame into challenges in the heat of the battle.
His crowning moment should have been the 1958 Scottish Cup Final, but his big day at Hampden was spoiled when John Coyle’s shot deflected off his toe into the net – a goal that sadly decided the contest.
Lesser characters would have crumbled after suffering that disappointment, but Baxter was made of stern stuff and took the set-back on his famous chin.
Displaying incredible fortitude, Baxter continued to produce excellent performances with utter commitment and the Easter Road always appreciated his effort, although sometimes his valuable grafting received inadequate attention.
He featured in the epic Fair’s Cup quarter final triumph over Barcelona and overall he recorded 307 appearances; scoring 32 goals.
After nine years of performing with spirit and skill for Hibernian, Baxter left to join Falkirk in June 1966 and later played for Clydebank before retiring from the game.
Everybody associated with the club would like to express our deepest condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time.
A much loved member of the Hibernian family, he will be missed, but his memory marches on.
There will be a minute's applause ahead of Saturday's match against Alloa Athletic at Easter Road to enable supporters to celebrate the life of John Baxter.