Craig’s Column: Come and join our Jim Baxter celebrations

Craig easton column for web
Craig easton column for web
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On Monday April 17 at the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy, Raith Rovers are raising funds for our Player Development Fund by hosting a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Jim Baxter’s epic performance in the 1967 Scotland v England game at Wembley.

The show will have film footage of that wonderful game and other memorable Baxter moments as well as input from various celebrities who had connections with Jim, including Willie Henderson, Jim McCalliog, Craig Brown, Val McDermid and Gordon Brown.

The purpose behind the event is to raise funds for our Player Development Squad so that we can aspire to find the next generation of players with some of Baxter’s skills. And I’m not just talking about the keepie uppies he performed on the wing when he showboated in front the World Champions on that amazing day, but also the vision, composure and sublime first touch that my grandfather and my dad used to tell me Baxter possessed.

As a club, we’re very proud that Raith Rovers was the first professional side of one of the greatest footballers Scotland ever produced.

It’s inspiring for my young players to learn about a Fife lad who learned his trade at Stark’s Park and then went on to dominate the game at the highest level with a confidence and a swagger you can associate with some of the top players of today.

To tie in with the event, we’re also organising a keepie uppie competition in Kirkcaldy Town Square on March 25 starting at 11.00 a.m.

Players from three age groups - primary 5,6, 7, s1/s2 and s3/s4 - will recreate Baxter’s famous moment from 1967 by juggling the ball up and down a course set up in the square and finish by scoring into a goal at one end.

It’s a bit of fun which will hopefully get the community engaged with what we’re doing regarding our Youth Development Programme and it’ll also test the skills of some of what could potentially be future Rovers players. I might even have a go myself!

It’ll take me back to when I was 10-years-old and practicing with the ball was all I did in the hope of, one day, becoming a professional footballer.

Keeping my ball up in the street after school or any spare bit of time I had.

My mum used to have to shout at me to come in for my dinner and there were too many times when I used to shout back to her to keep it in the oven as I was “going for my record”.

When a car would come along the street I used to hop onto the pavement, keeping the ball in the air all the while as I wouldn’t stop until I had beaten my last attempt.

I’m not sure how many kids practice like that now? Maybe there’s too many structured training sessions from such a young age and not enough time to really appreciate the ball. Your ball.

I used to take it everywhere with me, even slept with it next to my bed. So from a Development viewpoint I hope we can even inspire kids to just enjoy having a ball at their feet as much as possible. And you never know, maybe they could become the next Jim Baxter.

To book tickets or for any further information on the Jim Baxter Celebration event please visit: http://www.onfife.com/whats-on/detail/jim-baxter-celebration#.

Or email Dave Wann at pdf@raithrovers.net.