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Aberdeen Football Club Heritage Trust - Player Profile
Archie Baird Squad Index
Information:
1952-53 Squad Number:
10
Position:
Inside Left
Date of Birth:
08th May 1919
Birthplace:
Rutherglen, Lanarkshire
Nationality:
Scottish
Height:
6' 1 1/2"
Weight:
12st 7lbs
Signed:
09/06/1938
Career History:
Strathclyde Juniors/Aberdeen 9th June 1938, Freed 30th April 1953/St Johnstone 30th May 1953, Retired ? 30th April 1956
 
Profile:

Inside forward Baird joined the Dons in 1938 but had a long wait to make his Aberdeen debut due to the war. Scored in the Dons first national triumph in the 3-2 Southern League Cup win against Rangers in 1946. Was also a vital part of the Dons successful Scottish Cup side a year later. Represented Scotland in wartime internationals, Archie Baird joined St Johnstone at the end of the 1952-53 season.

Another link with this football club's past was lost forever on the 4th November 2009, with the sad news that former player and Aberdeen legend, Archie Baird, has passed away. However his memory will always live on at Aberdeen Football Club. Whenever the Scottish Cup comes around, talk will be of the side that carried off the crown in 1947, for the very first time, and Archie Baird's role in it. That will never die.

Archie Baird Interview taken from RedMatchday earlier this year

Being the oldest known living former Donwas not a burden that would have worried Archie Baird; after all he has been through some incredible experiences in what has been a memorable playing career and personal life. Archie had celebrated his 90th birthday on the 8th May andwas theonly surviving Don from the team that won the Dons first Scottish Cup in 1947.

Archie Baird Born in Rutherglen, Archie joined Aberdeen as a youngster of great promise in the summer of 1938. Aberdeen offered Archie a two-year contract which was unusual back then for any young player to be rewarded with more than a year's contract. "I had offers from Blackpool, Motherwell, St Mirren, Partick and others but my mother influenced my final decision due to the fact that Aberdeen manager Dave Halliday had good, honest eyes that were what clinched my move to Aberdeen. I had always admired the Dons and their style and moving to Aberdeen was a clean break. It all happened so quickly; six months after starting as a Junior I was away to Aberdeen and earning 4 per week with a 20 signing on fee. I set out on my great adventure in July 1938 leaving Buchanan Street station in Glasgow in the company of someone called Willie Waddell but not my right wing buddie from Strathclyde. By a strange coincidence there was another young player of that name with Renfrew and he too had just signed for Aberdeen. Willie was a fine player and we grew to become close friends for many years."

Archie soon began to realise what being at a football club like Aberdeen was all about as he started out in the reserves. "We got a taste of full-time training the month before the start of the season. Donald Colman was the trainer at that time; a quiet-spoken intelligent man. He made an immediate impression on me. When he entered the dressing room you could sense he had the respect of the hard-bitten pros. Donald was detailed in everything he did and that rubbed off on the players. He would advise players on their fitness and diet and the importance of living healthy. He was ahead of his time. He also got the best out of players and that was his real strength. Matt Armstrong was struggling to make it at Celtic but Colman transformed him at Pittodrie and he went on to become one of the best forwards ever to play for the Dons. I soon began to realise that I would turn to Donald for guidance as my form began to suffer and I lost confidence. I saw my friend Willie Waddell promoted to the first team and I was delighted for him but things were not going well for me and I was struggling to make an impact."

It was at that point that events in Europe were soon to have an impact on the whole country as Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939. All football was immediately stopped as every attention turned to the war effort. Events during those difficult times would have a huge bearing on Archie. "It all happened so quickly. Here I was in Aberdeen and trying to make my way as a professional player and also training to be an architect. A couple of months later I was conscripted and was very soon in France as a member of a medical corps unit with the ill-fated British Expeditionary Force. I missed the evacuation of Dunkirk, and only managed to leave France on the last ship out of St Nazaire. That was in the summer of 1940. By Christmas I was in the Western Desert, and by May 1942 had been captured by the Germans near Tobruk and handed over to the Italians. It was at El Adem when our field ambulance attached to the infantry unit had been surrounded by a squadron of German tanks. We ended up in a camp near Tripoli, called Suani Ben Adem. It was a filthy hell-hole, a huge rectangular strip of oasis surrounded by a wire fence and sentry towers. Prisoners were unable to do anything and many died there. What an eternity those four years seemed and how different from my teenage dreams; my twenty-first birthday spent in a tent 'somewhere in France'; my football confined to games for the unit team, a kick about with the lads and the occasional improvised training session. Since the war broke out I had played only two first class games, both with Leeds United as a guest player while I was stationed at Headingly Cricket Ground awaiting transfer to Egypt. Lying there under the clear Italian sky, I relived the excitement of playing against the pre-war Everton stars; Jones, Britton, Mercer and the great Tommy Lawton. But not even the good memory of scoring a goal for Leeds that day could make me forget the seriousness of my situation."

Archie spent much of his time during the hostilities as a POW in Italy but it was his story of what happened after his escape that was truly a tale of human courage and compassion. After eighteen months as a captive, Archie and his close friend Harold 'Smudger' Smith escaped to the foothills of the Appenines, free, but still in enemy-occupied territory. They headed south after news of an Allied landing on the Italian coast suggested that would have been their best route. However the journey was an arduous one with German patrols prominent. Their route to safety was achieved by living off the land and the generosity of sympathetic Italian farmers and peasants they met along the way.

"We had encountered many dangers along the way but the local Italian people were humble, generous people."

It was on that long trek to freedom that Archie came across an Italian family that would go to 'adopt' him as one of their own for several months as the harsh winter set in. The Pilotti family were Italian farmers who looked after Archie as his good friend Harold and Tom who had joined them along the way, found similar families nearby to home the escapees. Archie made life-long friendships during those days and daily news of Allied advances helped raise spirits. Archie also by his association with his new friends managed to speak the language in time. As the German occupation waned by the day and news of the Allied efforts in Italy were successful.

"As we made our way to eventual freedom we could hear gunfire in the distance. The Germans were retreating north and their convoy was an easy target for our fighters and bombers. The activity in the air was increasing as we made our way north. We eventually arrived in a village called Sarnano where it was soon to become Allied occupied territory, my feelings were mixed as the Italian people did not really understand what was happening as the Union flag was raised in their town.

"I came back a completely different person. I went away as a raw young laddie and came back after experiencing a lot, I had more confidence in myself and as far as football was concerned I was thrust straight into the Aberdeen first team so it just developed from there. On my return to Falmouth I had started playing for my unit team and for Aldershot. By early 1945 I was stationed at Edinburgh Castle and playing for Aberdeen when I could get leave arranged. The Scottish Command then selected me for a tour of Orkney Islands and I met up with some players I would face in the coming months. However the most important day for me was stepping out at Pittodrie to face Hearts for the first time in seven years and I was at last, making my first team debut. The war ended in May 1945 and I was demobbed in September."

It was in January 1946 that Archie gained his one Scotland cap when he played against Belgium at Hampden. "That game should never have been played as the ground was covered in snow. The game ended in a 2-2 draw but the thick fog made conditions all the more difficult. Jimmy Delaney and Gordon Smith were alongside me in that side. It was not an ideal international to play in but the Victory International against England was something else. It was the last wartime international and was seen as a celebration of the end of hostilities. I was delighted to be selected for the Scotland team. I would be facing some famous names like Frank Swift, Len Shackleton and Billy Wright. The Saturday before the international we were playing Partick at Firhill. I went down in a tackle with Jacky husband and I knew at once that I was seriously injured. On the Monday I had to call off from the Scotland team as the injury worsened. It was a sad day for me although my team mate George Hamilton took my place."

The highlights of Archie's Pittodrie career came in the Dons Southern League Cup win in May 1946 and the Scottish Cup a year later.

"I had a month to recover from that injury to make it for the final against Rangers. We prepared in Largs for three days before the game and we also had to contend with the butt of all jokes as Aberdeen had never won a national trophy at that time. The game was a real highlight for me personally as I scored a goal in the opening minute. Andy Cowie sent in a long throw and George (Hamilton) flicked the ball on with his head. I managed to leap past George Young to score. When Stan Williams scored just before half time, the big Aberdeen contingent was convinced we had done enough. Rangers back though and the game was tied at 2-2 as we moved into the final minutes. In the last seconds George Taylor popped up with a sensational winner and the cup was ours.

"A year later we took the Scottish Cup as well after beating Hibernian. There was a huge Aberdeen following that day as supporters came from all over, as far away as Orkney and Shetland; a true north east invasion. It was an amazing experience and after we lost a goal in the opening minute we came back to win with Stan Williams scoring the winner. I took up a position at the near post as Stan cut in from the bye-line. I was shouting at Stan to cut the ball back, but he flicked the ball in at the near post for a great goal. Stan later admitted to me that he heard my shout but he noticed Hibernian keeper Kerr move off his line in anticipation."

Looking back at his playing career, one player stood out from the rest as far as Archie was concerned;

"George Hamilton was the best player to play for the club. George was the complete player and it was a privilege to play alongside him. It was all so different in those days, there wasn't a great deal of influence from the manager regarding tactics or coaching. Any success we had was usually down to us playing off the cuff as it were."

After finishing his career in 1956 after three seasons with St Johnstone, Archie immediately began working for the Scottish Daily Express as a north east beat reporter. Despite offers to go full time as a journalist, Archie continued with his career as a PE teacher, a profession he had taken up during his time at Pittodrie.

"You have got to look at the whole picture and I count myself lucky to have survived the war. That was the big thing. To have been able to come back and play football again was a great thrill. To be honest I have never looked upon myself as being unlucky during the war and I don't have any regrets."

Archie Baird - Aberdeen Record

Season

Apps

Goals

1946-47

19

7

1947-48

22

7

1948-49

7

1

1949-50

23

6

1950-51

40

10

1951-52

27

6

1952-53

6

0

Total

144

37

Archie Baird on war time international duty

1946 Southern League Cup Winners

Team photo 1948

Archie Baird (left) looks on as Stan Williams scores winner in the 1947 Scottish Cup Final

Willie Cooper with the Scottish Cup at Hampden in 1947

Archie Baird and John Hewitt 2003

Archie celebrating his 90th Birthday earlier this year with Willie Miller and Duncan Davidson

Archie Baird

Senior Aberdeen Debut: show all appearances
Date Result Competition Venue Att. Age at Debut Type
27/04/1939
Aberdeen 5-2 Buckie Thistle
Dewar Shield R1 1L Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen 19 Start

Appearances
Season League League Cup Scottish Cup Europe Total Other
  App Sub Goals App Sub Goals App Sub Goals App Sub Goals App Sub Goals App Sub Goals
1952-53
2
0
0
4
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
6
0
0
0
0
0
1951-52
23
0
5
0
0
0
4
0
1
0
0
0
27
0
6
8
0
2
1950-51
27
0
5
10
0
4
3
0
1
0
0
0
40
0
10
5
0
0
1949-50
18
0
6
0
0
0
5
0
0
0
0
0
23
0
6
6
0
3
1948-49
7
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
7
0
1
0
0
1
1947-48
13
0
3
7
0
4
2
0
0
0
0
0
22
0
7
6
0
3
1946-47
14
0
6
2
0
1
3
0
0
0
0
0
19
0
7
1
0
1
1945-46
26
0
9
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
26
0
9
16
0
8
1944-45
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
12
0
3
1939-40
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
1
1938-39
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
1
Totals:
130
0
35
23
0
9
17
0
2
0
0
0
170
0
46
56
0
23
Total Appearances/Goals: 170 46  

Scottish International Caps
Season Date
Match
Tournament
1945-46 23/01/46
SCOTLAND v Belgium
Friendly
Total Appearances: 1