The Fabulous Baker Boys by Tom Maxwell, pictured left, tells the unique tale of Scotland’s most celebrated sporting siblings Joe and Gerry Baker who between them scored more than 500 goals in their careers representing Hibernian, St Mirren, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Torino.
While Liverpool-born Hibs legend Joe became the first man to make his England debut having never played in the English league, his US-born brother Gerry, a hero of St Mirren’s Scottish Cup-winning side of 1959, was the first top-flight European footballer to turn out for the USA.
Despite the brothers having Scottish parents and being brought up in Motherwell, international rules at the time dictated that they could only play for the countries of their birth and the book explores the pair’s impressive careers.
Tom, who is now a freelance writer and lifelong Berwick Rangers fan, first heard about Joe Baker when working as a sub-editor when working for the Edinburgh Evening News.
“Having grown up in Berwick-upon-Tweed, a town that has changed hands 13 times between England and Scotland, I’ve always had a fascination with national identity,” he told HTFP.
“Not only was he an incredible goalscorer, but he holds the distinction of being the first player to be capped for England having not played for an English club.
“I could hardly wrap my head round the fact that a 19-year-old Hibs striker with a broad Scottish accent was playing in the same England team as the likes of Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore and Jimmy Greaves.”
Joe was named in Alf Ramsey’s initial 40-man World Cup squad and played his last game for England in January 1966 – the very match that saw Geoff Hurst called into the squad for the first time.
“Who knows how history would have recorded it if a man with a broad Scottish accent had hit the famous hat-trick that sank West Germany a few months later,” added Tom.
“But the fact his brother, Gerry, was the first top-flight European player to represent the United States made the story even more amazing. To all intents and purposes, both men were Scottish.
“All in all, the book took me about a year to write, but Joe’s family and Gerry (who sadly passed away about a month before the book came out) were very helpful in terms of providing me with information and old scrapbooks.
“It was still an awful lot of work, and I was extremely grateful to football legends such as Denis Law, Bob Wilson and Ron Flowers who were more than happy to share their memories of playing alongside the Fabulous Baker Boys.
“It’s an incredible story and one that I feel privileged to be able to tell.”
Tom had his first book, The Lone Rangers, a history of Berwick Rangers football club, published in 2011.
The Fabulous Baker Boys is published by Birlinn and is on sale at £14.99.