Experienced defender and midfielder Bill Baxter joined Hull City in March 1971 for a £12,500 fee, having left his previous club Ipswich Town under a cloud after twice being suspended by manager Bobby Robson for ill-discipline. Having missed the unlucky 2-3 defeat in the FA Cup Quarter Final against Stoke City due to being cup-tied, Baxter went into City’s first eleven for one of the season’s most tumultuous League games, a 2-1 victory against Sheffield United that was termed The Battle of Bramall Lane due to the lively happenings on and off the pitch. The Tigers were pressing for a promotion place under Northern Irish player-manager Terry Neill and the victory in Sheffield on Baxter’s debut took City into the top two. Alas a run of disappointing results followed and City fell away, as did Baxter who ended the season filling in for absent midfield colleagues.
Out of the first team at the start of the 1971/72 season, Baxter joined Second Division rivals Watford on a three month loan in October 1971 and made 12 appearances for the Hornets. Bill returned to Boothferry Park in January 1972 and enjoyed a run of games at centre back during February, March and April. Despite this, manager Neill elected to hand Baxter a free transfer in May 1972, drawing to a close a short and often disappointing spell at the club.
William Alexander “Bill” Baxter was born in Edinburgh and as a teenager joined Scottish junior side Broxburn Athletic, who played on the western fringes of his home city. Baxter was assigned to National Service in Aldershot during 1960 and in June he was scouted by Ipswich Town, who fought off several other Football League clubs to claim his signature. Managed by future England manager Alf Ramsey, Baxter made his Ipswich debut in a December 1960 local derby against Norwich while still completing his National Service and ended the season as Ipswich’s regular right half as the club won the Second Division title and secured promotion to the top flight. With Baxter missing only two League games all season Ipswich held off the challenge of Burnley to claim the First Division title in 1961/62 season, the first club to win that title immediately after promotion. Baxter remained a constant presence in the Ipswich defence and was made captain by the 1963/64 season when Ipswich were relegated back to the Second Division.
Playing once again in the second tier, Baxter twice requested a transfer in November 1964 which was eventually granted by new manager Bill McGarry, but no club could agree terms with player and club and he stayed at Portman Road for four seasons in the Second Division, winning a second promotion to the First Division in 1968. McGarry was replaced by Bobby Robson as manager midway through the 1968/69 season and while Baxter remained a first team regular in the First Division for another three seasons, clashes between the manager and player led to Baxter being suspended by the club in both January and February 1971 and eventually precipitated his transfer to Hull City. When he left Ipswich Baxter had scored 23 goals in 459 senior appearances over an 11 year spell.
Baxter was appointed player-manager of Fourth Division side Northampton Town in May 1972 and he scored 4 goals in 43 appearances for the Cobblers – however his tenure was not a success and the club ended the season 23rd in the Division Four table, leading to Baxter’s dismissal after a year in the job. He joined non-league side Nuneaton Borough in October 1973 and played two seasons for the Southern League side, making over 60 appearances. In 1975 he returned to Scotland, lived in Fife and retrained as a telephone engineer. In December 1975 he took over the managerial reins at his first club Broxburn Athletic but he left again in May 1976. Baxter then worked for British Telecom for many years, in later life he suffered health problems and had to have a leg amputated due to cancer. He died in Dunfermline in May 2009 shortly after his 70th birthday.
Date/Place of Birth: 23 April 1939, Edinburgh
Hull City First Game: 9 March 1971, Sheffield United A (Division Two), 31 years, 320 days old
Hull City Final Game: 29 April 1972, Middlesbrough A (Division Two), 33 years, 6 days old
Broxburn Athletic (1956-1960), Ipswich Town (1960-1971), Hull City (1971-1972), Northampton Town (1972-1973), Nuneaton Borough (1973-1975)
Hull City Record
Career: 23 apps, 0 goalsBill Baxter
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