Arsenal’s Century Club – Joe Baker

Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Joe Baker sits at number 6

Joseph Henry Baker (17 July 1940 – 6 October 2003) was born in Woolton in Liverpool, England however he spent virtually his entire childhood growing up in Motherwell, Scotland.  Joe Baker’s mother was Scottish. His father was also born in Woolton and was a sailor; while living in New York in 1938, Joe’s elder brother, Gerry, was born. Early on in the Second World War the family returned from the United States to their hometown Liverpool as Joe’s father George felt he had to enlist and do his bit to help with the war effort and follow the example of his four brothers who were all serving in the British navy.

Joe and Gerry with Torino team mate Denis Law

Liverpool became a prime target for the Luftwaffe. After London it was the second most important port with the docks being heavily blitzed with 4,000 people losing their lives. Joe’s mother Lizzie wasn’t going to let her boys become victims and the family moved up to Wilshaw just outside Motherwell in Scotland to stay with Joe’s grandmother to escape the bombing when Joe was just six weeks old.

In 1944 George’s ship was blown up when returning home across the English Channel. Ironically it was a British mine that blew it up. George was one of the few survivors but was badly injured and had a lump of shrapnel in his stomach. He also lost his bladder and was constantly in and out of hospital over the next four years before finally succumbing to his injuries and losing his battle for life.

Joe, who was a centre forward, spent a month on trial with Chelsea as a youngster, but was not signed. However he signed professional terms with Hibernian after playing junior football for local Coltness United, and was then farmed out to another junior team, Armadale Thistle. In his first season with Hibs, the 17-year-old Baker scored all four goals in Hibs’ 4–3 victory over city rivals Hearts in the quarter-final of the 1958 Scottish Cup. Baker played in the 1958 Scottish Cup Final, which Hibs lost 1–0 to Clyde. He also scored nine goals in a Scottish Cup tie against Peebles Rovers. Baker was Hibs’ top goal scorer for four consecutive seasons, scoring a club record 42 goals in 33 league games during the 1959–60 season. He scored 102 goals in just 117 league games and 159 goals in all competitions for the Edinburgh club.

In 1961, Baker was transferred to Torino after the Hibs board refused to give him a £5 wage increase from his existing wage of £12 a week. Torino paid £75,000 for him and he shared a flat in the city with fellow new boy, Denis Law. He began well, scoring twice on his home debut, though his proudest achievement was definitely bagging the winner against Juventus in the Turin derby. It endeared him to fans, but his fondness for nightclubs brought unwanted attention from paparazzi and in one argument with a photographer, the snapper ended up in a Venetian lake.

His time at the Italian club was short and almost ended in tragedy. Baker was involved in a serious car crash, which meant that he needed life-saving surgery and spent over a month on a drip feed. It was a generally unhappy spell as Baker did not like the press intrusion, which meant that he and team mate Denis Law spent most of their time in their Turin apartment.

Joe with Billy Wright at Highbury

Baker recovered from his injuries and he returned to the UK in July 1962, joining Billy Wright’s Arsenal who; following a string of intense medical tests paid a club record £70,000 for the 22-year-old.

It was at Arsenal where he regained the prolific form which had initially earned him a move abroad. Strong, skilful and quick, Baker was deadly in the box and scored on his debut against Leyton Orient and finished as top scorer in all four of his seasons. Having been used to the tight marking of Italian defenders, all of a sudden he had space to play and he certainly made it count by scoring 100 goals in 156 games for the Gunners.

At 5ft 7in, he was a fearless striker, who in addition to goals, made sure his opponents knew he was not to be messed with. Liverpool’s 6ft 2in Ron Yeats found that out when he was floored by Baker during a game at Highbury, which saw both players sent off.

Frank McLintock said this about him “Joe Baker was a phenomenal player. He was all you could want in a goal scorer – equally adept with both feet and with the sort of pace Ian Rush later used to such advantage. I love players like Joe, with the economical grace of Jimmy Greaves, the short back-lift when they shot and the bravery that distinguishes the great from the merely good. Joe once knocked out Ron Yeats with a punch, which, of course, I can’t condone. But there’s a part of me that admired his courage in even trying it on with someone as intimidating as Liverpool’s tough as teak centre half”

On another occasion during a pre-season tour of the West Indies, Baker’s aggression is said to have caused a riot. ‘He head-butted one of the Jamaican players and the game got abandoned,’ Peter Storey said.

After a disappointing 1965–66 season Wright sold Baker to Nottingham Forest for £65,000. Baker had a successful 1966/67 at Forest, as the club finished runners-up in the top division to the following season’s European Cup Winners, Matt Busby’s Manchester United who included Baker’s ex Torino team mate, Denis Law.

After three years at Forest, Baker scored 41 goals in 118 league games. He then moved to Sunderland for a fee of £30,000. Baker spent the following two seasons playing for the Black Cats.

(The following footage includes Joe Baker scoring for Hibs)

Baker returned to Hibernian for a second time in 1971 and scored 12 goals in 30 appearances. He moved to Raith Rovers in 1972. He retired in 1974, having in all scored 301 league goals in 507 games.

He is notable for being the first professional player to have played for England without having previously played in the English football league system, and for scoring over 100 goals in both the English and Scottish leagues.

Alf Ramsey with Joe Baker, Jimmy Greaves et al

Joe scored his 100th and final goal for Arsenal against Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury on December 28th, 1965.

Click to see image expanded

Joe suffered a heart attack during a charity golf tournament and passed away in Wishaw General Hospital soon after, he was only 63 years old.

Joe Baker was a special player, tough as nails and a wonderful goal scorer, I just loved watching him play.

GunnerN5

41 Responses to Arsenal’s Century Club – Joe Baker

  1. chas says:

    Thanks yet again, GN5.
    Joe Baker looks quite the pop star with his quiff.

    A 100 goals in 156 games – Wow!

    This is a photo of me looking forward to another Arsenal Centurion…

  2. LBG says:

    Ah….the Sixties…and my first hero, together with the great George Eastham.
    Thanks as always GN5.

  3. Sue says:

    Yet another fascinating read, GN5…. 👍

  4. chris says:

    I remember him well.

  5. Sue says:

    8 days until the greatest team the world has ever seen take centre stage!
    In the meantime… not a lot!! Will watch the league 1 play off on Sunday, to see how Bielik performs! Then the championship play off the next day… then after Wednesday – nothing (as I won’t be watching the CL, that’s for sure 😄)
    Urgh…. nothing! Will renew my membership next week & will be that desperate to get back to the Emirates, will more than likely buy tickets for the Emirates cup!!! 😃

  6. RA says:

    Morning People, and especially you GN5, when you arise from your slumbers. 😁

    Thank you for your usual classy Post!!

  7. RA says:

    Sue,

    I take that Krystian Bielik has returned from his loan to the Addicks (?) — umm, that’s Charlton Athletic, I think?

    He is still a youngster in Premier League terms, @ 21 y.o. and 6′ 3″

    I seem to remember that he had a lot of injury problems when he was at Brum (definitely Birmingham City 🤪 ) but is a skilful player happy as a holding midfielder (bye, bye Xhaka) or CB.

    If he is playing in the EL Final, according to Susy the Oracle, then I will be taking a careful look at him — could settle one or two of our problems in defence, maybe.

  8. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    GN5 Thank you yet again. I love the background stories you come up with. The sad story of Joe’s father a reminder of the massive effect WW2 had on my father’s generation.

    Baker was a real star. Good looks, the quiff, and a glamorous (it seemed to me) lifestyle. I saw him play a couple of times in the classic AFC shirt – proper cotton, not this nylon crap.

  9. Sue says:

    Well RA… he scored in the semi final 2nd leg.. be cruel to return him before the final! So keep your eyes peeled on Sunday, Mr yankee doodle 😝

  10. Sue says:

    RA… I’m talking about Charlton v Sunderland btw 😉

  11. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning all,

    Joe Baker really was a special player, I must have seen all his games at Highbury. He was one of the few bright spots when Billy Wright managed Arsenal.

    Wright had a lousy record
    W64, D41, L63, GF307, GA309, Pts% 50.3 average position 11th.

    Those who complain about our team and the clubs performances today have no idea what it is really like to witness really poor results. Wright (1962-66) was the 3rd consecutive manager to win absolutely nothing it was during the period from 1952 to 1970 when we won zip and started off the season as no hopes -how would today’s fickle fans manage that?

  12. Big Raddy says:

    How would today’s fans respond? Who knows? What is certain is that the soccer tourists would go elsewhere and the stadium/economy would suffer.

    But it will not happen under the magnanimous stewardship of the Kroenke’s

  13. GunnerN5 says:

    Arsenal are ‘very disappointed’ to announce that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be part of their Europa League final squad.

    The Times reported last week that Arsenal were expected to leave Mkhitaryan behind in north London due to diplomatic issues arising from his presence in Baku.

    The political tensions between Azerbaijan and Mkhitaryan’s native Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory meant that Mkhitaryan’s safety could not be guaranteed.

    The issue kept the 30-year-old out of the group-stage game with Qarabag earlier this season, with The Times reporting Arsenal’s ‘significant anger’ over a situation they feel UEFA haven’t helped.

    But the Gunners confirmed on Tuesday morning that Mkhitaryan would not travel with them to the final.

    ‘We are very disappointed to announce that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be travelling with the squad for our Uefa Europa League final against Chelsea,’ read an official statement.

    ‘We have thoroughly explored all the options for Micki to be part of the squad but after discussing this with Micki and his family we have collectively agreed he will not be in our travelling party.

    ‘We have written to Uefa expressing our deep concerns about this situation. Micki has been a key player in our run to the final so this is a big loss for us from a team perspective.

    ‘We’re also very sad that a player will miss out on a major European final in circumstances such as this, as it is something that comes along very rarely in a footballer’s career.

    ‘Micki will continue to be part of our preparations until we depart for Baku at the weekend.’

  14. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi Raddy,

    I’m not sure if that was a tongue in cheek comment – but if the Kronke’s don’t loosen the purse strings and start investing in players as well as bricks and mortar then we could very quickly become a middle of the table team.

    Historically our average league position has been 7th.

  15. allezkev says:

    Another great post, thanks GN5, especially some of the background to his early life, I missed Joe Baker by a single season, but some of my older mates would talk wistfully about Baker and his energetic style and finishing.

    Not surprised by the Mkhitarayan decision, it’s sad but the wise choice, I wonder if Welbeck will be involved?

  16. Big Raddy says:

    GN5. Of course it was tongue in cheek. The Kroenke’s should never have been allowed to own AFC. There should be a strict International limit on the number of sport teams one can own. Any more than one results in a loss of perspective and interest (apart from financial) and it depresses me that we should be a disinterested foreigner’s cash cow.

  17. Big Raddy says:

    Mhki: On order to balance things Chelsea should have to lose a player for the Final and he should play in a similar position … Hazard 😀

  18. GunnerN5 says:

    Raddy,

    We are totally in sync. Arsenal under the Kronke’s has started to look very ordinary.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………….
    Here is the Kronke’s gradual takeover of our club.

    Kroenke is the largest shareholder of Premier League association football club Arsenal. Arsenal already had a technical link-up with Kroenke’s Colorado Rapids when in April 2007 Granada Ventures, a subsidiary of ITV plc, had sold its 9.9% stake in Arsenal Holdings plc to Kroenke’s KSE UK inc. Kroenke went on to buy further shares in the club, taking his total stake up to 12.19%. The club’s board initially expressed skepticism that a bid would be in its best interests, but gradually warmed to him as part of counteracting Alisher Usmanov’s rival bid for the club.

    By June 2008, the board had prepared to let Kroenke take over the club, and on September 19, 2008, it was officially announced that Kroenke had joined the Arsenal board of directors. Kroenke had a beneficial interest in, and controlled voting rights, over 18,594 shares, representing 29.9% of the issued shares. Thus, he was nearing the maximum 29.99% threshold, beyond which he would be forced to make an offer for all remaining shares]

    On April 10, 2011, it was reported that Kroenke was in advanced talks to complete the takeover of Arsenal. The following day, it was announced that he increased his shareholding in Arsenal to 62.89% by purchasing the stakes of Danny Fiszman and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, and agreed to make an offer for the rest of the club at £11,750 per share, valuing the club at £731M.

    In August 2018, he made an offer of around £600m in a deal that would value the Gunners at £1.8bn, to the second major share holder Alisher Usmanov to take complete control of the club.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………
    Since the Kronke incursion into Arsenal started 12 seasons back we have not won the Premiership, average position 4th, and the second longest period of time without winning the League in 90 seasons. But thanks to Arsene we managed to win 3 FA Cups.

    We have become a classic average looking team who win the occasional trophy. The biggest winner during this period has been the Kronke’s bank balance………………….

  19. GoonerB says:

    Thanks GN5. I’m loving learning about stuff that I would never have known otherwise or never taken the opportunity to look into. Thanks obviously to Chas also as I know his input is also key.

    Baker looks to have been a remarkable player that almost strikes me of a cross between Charlie Nicholas, Ian Wright and Roy Keane. I think he would have been one of those players, with his eye for goal and toughness, that would have flourished in today’s game. I love a striker with a short back lift…..not a euphemism.

    Onto Kroenke, and my gut tells me he is very wrong for us and we will diminish under his control. I think this summer will tell us a lot about where we will go under him so will reserve final judgement for the time being.

  20. fred1266 says:

    Arsenal have confirmed Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not travel with the squad to Baku to face Chelsea in the Europa League final.

    Political tensions between Azerbaijan and the midfielder’s native Armenia will see Mkhitaryan left out by head coach Unai Emery.

    Mkhitaryan also did not travel to Azerbaijan when Arsenal faced Qarabag in the Europa League group stage last year.

    “We have thoroughly explored all the options for Micki to be part of the squad but after discussing this with Micki and his family we have collectively agreed he will not be in our travelling party,” said an Arsenal statement.

    “We have written to UEFA expressing our deep concerns about this situation. Micki has been a key player in our run to the final so this is a big loss for us from a team perspective.

    “We’re also very sad that a player will miss out on a major European final in circumstances such as this, as it is something that comes along very rarely in a footballer’s career.

    “Micki will continue to be part of our preparations until we depart for Baku at the weekend.”

    Mkhitaryan also acknowledged the decision to miss the May 29 final against Premier League rivals Chelsea with a post on social media.

    “Having considered all the current options, we had to take the tough decision for me not to travel with the squad to the Europa League final,” he wrote on Instagram.

    “It’s the kind of game that doesn’t come along very often for us players and I must admit, it hurts me a lot to miss it.

    “I will be cheering my team-mates on! Let’s bring it home.”

    Mkhitaryan has made 11 appearances in Arsenal’s run to the Europa League final, with a place in next season’s Champions League at stake.

  21. Sue says:

    Fred… this final has been an utter shambles thanks to UEFA.. many of the fans can’t even see their team (s) play… I mean 6000 tickets allocated!! Baku of all places.. and now Mkhi isn’t going due to safety issues.. bloody great…

  22. Sue says:

    So that has handed an advantage to Chelsea.. I mean yes Mkhi hasn’t been in great form of late, but… I’d rather have him there, to know you could bring him on, if needed…
    Imagine if it was Hazard, there’d be uproar!
    Oh well as long as the money rolls in for UEFA, hey??

  23. RA says:

    Oh, Susie, how could you say such a thing about our beloved, corrupt, wonderful, useless UEFA masters?

    I think Chelsea should be made to give us Hazard for the Final just to balance things up. All agreed say “hick”. 😳

  24. Sue says:

    RA… it has put a dampener on it… and if big Oli (with his blue blood) pops up with the winner omg 😡
    Yes I agree with you!! 😉 hick (that wasn’t even from my amber nectar 😄)

  25. RA says:

    Sue.

    Your worries about my secretary, are fortunately unfounded as I have not yet returned to full time work since my medical problem last Fall, and a secretary is not required.

    I can sing unfettered, all by myself, without scaring the horses, tra-la-la-la, other than unforgivably forgetting the lyrics, and being forced into Prospect of Whitby rudery, which sadly I am notoriously fond of and causes any neighbouring horses to look askance.
    Sod ’em, is what I say. 😜

    All by myself, Don’t wanna be, All by myself, Anymore;

    When I was young, I never needed anyone
    And making love was just for fun
    Those days are gone,
    Livin’ alone
    I think of all the friends I’ve known
    But when I dial the telephone
    Nobody’s home,

    Not even Le Coq Monster — sniffle …….

  26. RA says:

    Big Raddish is the one who knows all about Amber Nectar, and I learned a lot from him in my early days on AA about champagne, good champagne and …… well whatever more is there to say.

    I am now off to investigate how many Big Macs I can scoff to ease my hunger pains! 😎

  27. LB says:

    Has it crossed anyone’s mind that Joe Baker must have had a Scottish accent
    How wired is that when playing for England.

  28. RA says:

    No different from people born in England who play for Scotland, Wales or Ireland, LB.

    Or those born in the Windies, or S.Africa playing for England across many sports.

    Weird? Yes.

    [Don’t know about Joe Baker – before my time.]

  29. LB says:

    Can someone zap one of those?

  30. LB says:

    Billy Wright taking a selfy, so ahead of his time?

  31. LB says:

    RA
    I know there are loads of examples of people going the other way: “Irish” with English accents playing for Ireland but I cannot think of another situation where someone with a foreign accent has played for England ( football that is)

  32. LB says:

    Thank you so much for the read GN5, I was taken to Arsenal at this time with my Dad and Granddad, I remember them raving about him but sadly I cannot remember him playing.

  33. LB says:

    Ok, that is enough happiness, now how I really feel, am I the only one who feels as though they are in purgatory waiting to see if we are going to spend the rest of their lives in hell.
    June 1st is a slow wait.
    Of course we will win the Europa but that will do nothing to ease the pain.

  34. Big Raddy says:

    LB. Good point about foreign accents playing for England. Supermac?

  35. fred1266 says:

    Are u a red , silver or gold member sue

  36. Sue says:

    RA… 😂😂 all I can say is, those poor bloody horses 😄
    You are the sort of person, I can’t always tell if you’re being serious or not, so I apologise now, for if I ever say the wrong thing, which is bound to happen at some point!
    Oh & btw, the blog I spoke to LCM on is Just Arsenal.. that is where i spend a lot of my time & he’s recently popped up on there.. so you can stop pining 😄
    Bloody hell I’ve got Celine Dion in my head now – thanks for that 🤣

  37. Sue says:

    Fred.. I’m a red member

  38. Sue says:

    Hello LB… I was going to ask how you’re doing, but you’ve brought up June 1st, which isn’t a good sign 😀
    What an absolute nightmare scenario… they can’t win it, surely?? Tbf, I think I’ll have a little meltdown either way… it really is an awful final & I’d love to just skip it, erase it.. never hear about it ever again – yeah right, like that’s going to happen 😄
    Spuds or scousers – can it get any worse???

  39. LB says:

    Sue

    A horrible dilemma, but there is only one way to go……

  40. chas says:

    NEW POST

  41. LBG says:

    Being an older member of the fraternity, I still get a lot of fun out of listening to long gone footballers on the “wireless”.
    Thought I’d share some of the stories from last night on the Sportsbar, Talksport or as my Bro would say Talkshite. Dont like Andy Goldstein and Jason Cu*** myself, but they had Jimmy Carter on last night, and he was magnificent, a real Ray Parlourlike storyteller!!
    A Hackney born boy who lived ten minutes walk from Highbury, his Dad was a mad Arsenal man and regularly took him to stand in the boys/family enclosure at Highbury. ( Some of us remember it well, although by this time I had graduated to the Northbank).
    Jimmy talked about his very early days at QPR and Crystal Palace and then his real breakthrough at Millwall. He played a big part in Milwall’s promotion to Div 1 in a team with Cascarino, Sherringham and Trevor Hurlock ( now there was an old fashioned hard man.)
    He told of hearing from Frank McLintock, his agent at the time, that Liverpool had bid for him, and how he missed his appointment with Kenny as his young son slammed the door on his wife as they came out to wave him off and wouldn’t open the door again. They eventually got him through the cat flap!
    Four weeks on ly as a Liverpool player and Dalgleish resigned and Souness made it clear he didn’t fancy Jimmy and brought Mark Walters in from Rangers. And as we know George Graham and Theo Foley jumped in and brought him back home for three successful seasons from 1991 with a great Arsenal team.
    A story he had never told before was then squeezed out of him last night regarding being banned from the famous Tuesday Club on his first dat at Arsenal.
    First day of training and Jimmy was invited to join the “usuals” on that Tuesday. Jimmy said he was not a big drinker but accepted with excitement and after a few pints was getting quite into the banter. Perry Groves was the “Chairman” at the time and, when he bought his round, shook up the bottle of beer for Jimmy and of course it exploded all over him. Good laugh says Jimmy and I’d passed my first initiation into the Tuesday Club. But I thought I’m going to get you back Grovesy. So ” when it came to my round, I was up at the bar and Perry came up to help bring the drinks back. He was standing close and, well let’s say, he “felt his leg getting warm”. The rest of the lads thought it hilarious as Perry raced off to the loo. Eventually, twenty mins had gone by, and Perry hadn’t returned, some of the lads said perhaps I had gone too far, and should go and apologise and see how he was. So I went into the loo and Perry had his one leg up on one of the hand dryers trying to dry off his strides. He immediately started ranting at me……and so, still a a bit off my head, …..I pissed on his other leg!!!”
    Jimmy dropped him £20 at the next training session to buy some new strides.

    An entertaining hour of reminiscing from an obvious character, for anyone who didn’t hear it last night.

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