FORMER Raith Rovers star Denis Mochan is the latest name to be added to the Jim baxter tribute evening in May. Denis played alongside Baxter at Stark’s Park after signing from East Fife in 1959 and the two became good friends.
Denis remembers: “He was at the Rovers before I arrived from East Fife and I knew that he was a good player.
“He was quite one-footed but his vision was tremendous. He wasn’t one for training though! All the things like running and exercises he wasn’t interested in. He just wanted to play with the ball. Same in matches, he wouldn’t track back to defend. He used to say to the defenders to get it out to him and he’d make something happen.”
Denis is convinced that Slim Jim’s time at Raith was a key element in his development.
“He came to the club at a really good time when there was great players there like Willie McNaught, Alfie Conn and Johnny Urquart. Good, experienced professionals who could help bring on a young player like Jimmy.”
Denis and Baxter would keep in touch after both had left Stark’s Park, Denis leaving in 1962 for Nottingham Forest. “He stayed with me a couple of times at my house in Falkirk when he was in the army. He was stationed at Stirling Castle. We met up later on too when I was at Forest and he was at Sunderland. He told me he was off to London to do a beer commercial!”
Denis says that Baxter was a uniquely gifted footballer, even at a young age.
“Look at when he first broke into the national side. Playing alongside all those great players like Paddy Crerand and Denis Law. It wasn’t a problem to him, he fitted in straight away.
“He was one of the best players that’s ever come out of Scotland without a doubt.”