Dunfermline Athletic

Eric Bakie

Born: April 8, 1928

Eric Bakie, died on 13 May 2015 aged 87. Eric was a well known Scottish footballer of the 1950s who played more than 160 games as a part timer for Aberdeen, Dunfermline Athletic and St Johnstone while at the same time holding down a civil service career.

His profile in the game would undoubtedly have been higher had he signed for Arsenal who were keen to secure his services. In 1949 when he was considering a move to London for work reasons, the Gunners, who had been tracking him through their scouting network following his Boys' Clubs international appearances, learned about this. Their manager,Tom Whittaker, wrote to Bakie on 22nd June that year saying, "If you are successful in being transferred to London we shall be only too happy to sign you as an Arsenal player and am sure you'd be happy with us. Let me know as soon as possible."

As it transpired, the London move did not materialise and instead Bakie signed for Aberdeen while continuing to work and live in Edinburgh. Despite Aberdeen being keen for him to be full time he preferred to remain part time. He trained in the evenings at Easter Road while meeting up with teammates only on Saturdays. He had an auspicious debut for the Dons first team on 17 December 1949 featuring at left half in a 5-0 demolition of Motherwell. Another of his first team appearances was against Hibs at Easter Road in front of 35,000 fans but it was difficult holding down a first team place being part time. After two seasons and a handful of games Aberdeen gave him a free transfer in 1951 when he joined Dunfermline Athletic with whom he would spend his best years.

A regular at left half, he was an industrious but elegant player. Within weeks of joining the Pars, he played against Rangers in a League Cup quarter final. This was to be East End Park's first all ticket match when 20,000 squeezed in to witness a famous victory over the Glasgow giants.

Throughout his time with Dunfermline he continued working as a civil servant.

Certainly his football earnings would not have stretched to supporting a family - in the mid 50s under manager Bobby Ancell, later the well known Motherwell manager, Bakie received a minimum of £4 per week. Even allowing for bonuses and inflation, current day players would be scornful of such scant reward. However, Elaine, Bakie's daughter commented, "Dad used to joke about today's players and their salaries, saying he was born at the wrong time! But he and others like him did genuinely play for the love of the game and the money was a bit extra cash that came in handy."

By the time he left the Pars in 1956, having spent the last two seasons in the old First Division, he was their joint longest serving player along with Ron Mailer, later skipper of the famous Cup winning team. On the occasion of their centenary game against Aberdeen in 1985 he was delighted to be invited back to East End Park for the celebrations and be reunited with old teammates such as Mailer, George Peebles, Charlie Dickson and others.

Two seasons and 34 appearances at the old Muirton Park in Perth for Saints was followed by his dropping down a level to play in the East of Scotland League in the autumn of his career with Duns, whom he helped to a pair of South Qualifying Cup wins. There in a Scottish Cup tie in January 1963 against Gala Fairydean when he was nearly 35, a press report stated, "Bakie and his half back partners had a tremendous game." At the end of that season he decided enough was enough and hung up his boots.

Bakie was born in Watson Crescent, Edinburgh where he initially attended North Merchiston Primary School. One of his teammates in the school team was near neighbour Lawrie Reilly, of Hibs and Scotland fame with whom he maintained a lifelong friendship. A bright youngster, Bakie won a bursary to the Royal High School but continued his football with North Merchiston Boys Club. In 1946 he represented Scotland's Boys Clubs in matches against Wales and England. In the latter, one of his teammates was Jimmy Gauld from Aberdeen who achieved notoriety in 1964 when sentenced to four years' imprisonment for his role in match fixing corruption in England.

National Service followed in Cairo where, as a staff sergeant, Bakie was engaged in the repatriation of German prisoners with whom nevertheless he frequently played football. On his return, he joined famous Edinburgh juvenile side, Hutchison Vale, where a teammate was Tommy Younger, later of Hibs and Scotland fame.

On leaving school Bakie joined the Ministry of Labour which became the Department of Employment. He remained there throughout his working life, latterly as an auditor, which required him to travel throughout the UK.

In retirement, despite five hip operations due to football, he enjoyed golf at Lothianburn where he was also a member of the New Ten Park club within the club. He was also a keen and successful bowler at the Coltbridge Club at Roseburn. Elaine added, "Dad was a sports lover and followed most of them closely.He was a popular,good humoured and very decent man who never had a bad word to say about anyone.During the war he was evacuated for a while to Tillicoutry where his host family liked him so much they did not want him to leave."

He and his wife Margaret would have celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in June 2015.There were two children of the marriage, Kenneth and Elaine as well as several grandchildren all of whom survive him.

JACK DAVIDSON



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