Monday evening’s celebration of Jim Baxter and the next generation of Raith Rovers was a great success.
The event was timed for the 50th anniversary of Baxter’s iconic performance at Wembley, when Scotland became “unofficial World Champions”. The night featured film footage of the match, prepared by RaithTV, in which Scotland beat England 3-2, along with many other memorable Baxter displays.
Host Bill Leckie humorously introduced a series of guests as they shared their memories of Baxter. Gordon Brown set the scene and made the argument that Jim was probably Scotland’s greatest ever player. Val McDermid reminded us of how her father, Jim (in whose memory she named the North Stand at Stark’s Park) was instrumental in bringing Baxter to Raith Rovers. Bill Leckie hosted the evening with interviews with Willie Johnston, a fellow Fifer at Ibrox, and Jim McCalliog, the scorer of the winning goal in 1967 at Wembley (in his first appearance for Scotland).
Craig Brown (former Scotland manager) and Tom Miller (Baxter biographer) gave us a double-act full of humorous anecdotes and delivered with a professionalism that Morecambe and Wise would be proud of.
But the event was also about looking forward, and seeing how the club is looking to create future Jim Baxters. Craig Easton and two of the young players from the new Development Squad were invited to the stage. They told the guests about their successful first season and how they are just one point from winning the East of Scotland Development League.
The winners of the Keepie Uppie Challenge for school children, Callum Husband at Primary school level and Zak Robb at Secondary level, were presented with their prizes by Jim McCalliog.
The evening concluded with short film clips of Jim Baxter giving dazzling displays to the soundtrack of the Kinks playing ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ – rounding off a truly emotional night!
One of the purposes of the event was to raise funds to support the RRFC Player Development Squad so that Raith Rovers can find and nurture the next generation of players with some of Baxter’s skills. Provisionally, £4,700 was raised on the night for the Player Development Fund. We are extremely grateful for the generosity of those who came along on the night, and also those who have contributed to the Fund since it launched in the summer.
To see the terrific results of the Development Squad in its first year, fans were reminded that they can head along to Stark’s Park on Tuesday night to watch a Rovers team (potentially!) win a league title this season. All that’s needed is a draw against Livingston to win the title. If you’ve never been to a Raith Development game, this would be the one to go to!
During the interval we started auctioning a beautifully framed Scotland jersey with a ticket and programme from the 1967 Wembley game. The highest bid currently stands at £600 and we have agreed to keep the auction open until Friday April 28th to give those unable to attend a chance to bid. Anyone wishing to place a bid should contact the club’s Commercial Department on 01592 263 514 (option 2).