Jim Baxter

By Adam Robertson
 September 9, 2020

Jim Baxter - Big Game Player
Jim Baxter

Jim Baxter - Big Game Player

At a club like Rangers, some names are passed down through the generations with such reverence, like treasured heirlooms, that the mere fact you never saw them play feels immaterial. It is what separates the legends from the mortals: their story never ends and indeed too often, further layers are added to the mythology.

Perhaps only the legend of Bill Struth stands taller than Jim Baxter's. 'The greatest footballer Scotland ever produced.' No question mark in my house growing up, throwing it out there for debate. It was a statement of fact, made by my dad who wouldn't have been old enough himself to say with enough certainty. He was just about of age to marvel at Baxter's impudence at Wembley in 1967 however, so the legend became real.

It is pointless to compare the greats of the past by today's standards of professionalism. They can only be measured by the impact in their own time and Baxter's often broke the scales. A big game player - Baxter's Old Firm record is the envy of most - just as he gave life to the great Rangers side of the early sixties, his absence was too much for it to withstand. The famous line attributed to Scot Symon - "just give the ball to Jim, he'll make things happen" - is too often uttered in awe, ignoring the fact that it was evidence of a tactical vacuum at Ibrox, just as European football was modernising rapidly. But he really could make things happen, such as the victorious 1964 League Cup Final against Celtic where he switched his teammates positions at every turn to thwart the opposition, conducting the action like Toscanini and lifting yet more silverware.

After doing much the same two months later in the Viennese mud, he was left broken and prone, much the same as the club's ambitions. It wasn't Jim Baxter's fault that his team became so reliant on his genius. He simply played in his own world which, according to legend, was shared by very few others.

Martyn Ramsay - @hobbes_ff

Rangers fc charity foundation - legends challenge

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