‘A wonderful servant to our club and a worthy inclusion as one of my favourite Town players’

Two of Town's all-time greats. Bill Baxter, left, and Ray Crawford both played key roles in Alf Rams

Two of Town's all-time greats. Bill Baxter, left, and Ray Crawford both played key roles in Alf Ramsey's Division One winning team in 1962, and were reunited when Bill McGarry brought back the good times in 1968, when Town returned to the top-flight. Crawford is the club's all-time leading goalscorere, while Baxter was a stalwart for more than a decade, and is generally regarded as beung unlucky not to have won senior caps for Scotland. Baxter is your poster Terry Howard's favourite Town player. Photo: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Town fan of 50 years, TERRY HOWARD tells us of one of his favourite Town players. We welcome your posts

The bubbly is flowing as Town celebrate winning the Second Division championship in 1968. From left,

The bubbly is flowing as Town celebrate winning the Second Division championship in 1968. From left, Bill Baxter, Ken Hancock, Billy Houghton, John O'Rourke, trainer Sammy Chung, manager Bill McGarry, Danny Hegan, Tommy Carroll, Ray Crawford, and Frank Brogan.

I was interested in reading Mike Bacon’s favourite Town player, Frans Thijssen and Dave Ashford felt Allan Hunter was a key signing for Ipswich.

I can’t disagree, however who my favourite Ipswich Town player of all time is a tricky question as many candidates come to mind when I look back over the last 50 or so years of watching Town play.

But, despite a sad end to his Town career involving one of the greatest football managers of all time in Bobby Robson, Bill Baxter edges it over the rest.

I began watching Town a couple of years before Baxter signed for Town in the summer of 1960.


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My grandfather, a Norwich City supporter, lived not far from Portman Road in Cromwell Street, Ipswich. He took me to one or two games that I really don’t remember, but then I began to go with a school friend and we also went to reserve games. I vaguely remember seeing players who were household names, but past their best, including Billy Liddell and Ted Ditchburn at Portman Road.

By the time August 1960 cane round, I was hooked as an Ipswich supporter and I remember reading in the local press that Alf Ramsey had signed a young Scot, Bill Baxter from Broxburn Athletic, but he wouldn’t be available regularly as was doing his National Service in the army.

YOUR POSTS: ‘Not many of the old ‘crash, bang, wallop’, centre forwards wanted to get too involved with him!’

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I didn’t see him play until Christmas 1960 when he made his league debut against of all teams, Norwich City.

Ken Malcolm, a hard-tackling full back, was not available so Baxter, a wing half, deputised for him at left back. My diary entry for that game states that; “Left back Bill Baxter made his first ever league appearance and if his display is anything to go by, then he has a great career ahead of him.” Prophetic words!

Baxter’s next two games were on 14th and 21st January, replacing respectively John Elsworthy and Reg Pickett. The second of those games was at Anfield, and apparently, he had a wonderful game coming close to scoring his first league goal. It wasn’t long before he became a regular playing right half in place of the experienced Reg Pickett. At the end of that season, Town were champions and promoted to the First Division for the first time, with Baxter playing 19 games, often only after express permission from the army as I recall.

He was a regular the following season, playing 50 times, missing just two through injury. as Town, as we know, won the First Division Championship at their first attempt.

In the following nine years, Baxter played in excess of 40 games per season, except in 1964/65 when he played 39 and in his final year, 1970/71 when he played just 29 times.

He was appointed club captain in 1963/64. In 1964/65 Bill McGarry took over as manager from Jackie Milburn and switched Baxter from right-half to centre-half where he stayed for the remainder of his Town career. Mick McNeil took over as club captain. Town finished fifth that year as they did again in 1966/67 before becoming champions the following year and another promotion to the First Division.

Apart from those notably successful seasons, Town finished in mid-table or lower, but Baxter was the one player who could always be relied on. Despite being short for a central defender, he was brilliant in the air and scored his fair share of goals.

At one evening game at Portman Road in 1970/71, I remember being surprised when Baxter’s name was missing from the team announced for that game.

As we all found out later, this was the first indication to the supporters that his time with Ipswich Town was coming to an abrupt end.

However, that must not be allowed to detract from recognising him as a wonderful servant to our club and a worthy inclusion as one of my favourite Town players.

TERRY HOWARD

- We welcome your posts... e: mike.bacon@archant.co.uk

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I agree with Dave Ashford’s comments on big Allan Hunter – a brilliant player for Town.

A practical joker and a very nice chap.

STEVE CHIVERS

- We welcome your posts... e: mike.bacon@archant.co.uk

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