Gerry Baker, who played both the Lilywhites and Cambridge United, was a good old fashion centre half who took no prisoners and expected none in return.
Born at South Hindley in West Yorkshire on April 222nd, 1939, Gerry had played for Yorkshire Schoolboys before joining the groundstaff of Sheffield Wednesday. He had also been the Yorkshire junior high jump champion. Finding his opportunities non existent at Sheffield Wednesday, he joined Bradford Park Avenue in January 1957. Then a full back, Gerry found himself competing with Jeff Suddards, who later joined Cambridge City, for a berth in the first team. Suddards was the senior player and as a result Gerry was forced into being the understudy. With Suddards departure at the start of the 1959-60 season, it seemed the opportunity for Gerry was there but this was cut short because of a bad injury and him being called up to do his National Service.
In the summer of 1961, having made just 16 league appearances for Bradford Park Avenue, Gerry joined Southern League side, King's Lynn. It was while at King's Lynn, he switched from playing as a full back to centre half but at first found his new position strange, getting himself sent off a couple of times early on. This did not stop him and soon he became one of the best central defenders in Non League Football.
In 1965 Gerry joined Cambridge United, making his debut against Cambridge City on August 31st. There he became the backbone of their defence, helping them win the Southern League Championship in 1968/69 but at the end of the season at the age of 30 he found himself surplus to requirements as the U's Manager, Bill Leivers, signed the much younger Terry Eades. Gerry, who had made his of 161 Southern League appearances for United against Kettering Town on May 5th, 1969, then joined Cambridge City.
At City he was made Club Captain under Tommy Bickerstaff and was to help them gain promotion back to the Southern League Premier Division and subsquentley finish as runners up to Yeovil Town. One of the matches that he specially enjoyed playing for Cambridge City 1970-71 Cambs Professional Final, when he helped City beat his former team, United. It certainly brought a big smile to his face.
After leaving City he played briefly for Stevenage before deciding to pack away his football boots because he was finding hard working full time in the building trade and then having to head off for training. He then moved to Great Shelford, where he helped run the local village football team. In 1979 he was their manager when they won the Cambs Invitation Cup.
Gerry today still lives in the Great Shelford and plays bowls for Great Shelford.
Sources Include: Rothman's Book of Football League Players Cambridge United Football Club: 100 Greats by Brian Attmore and Graham Nurse Cambridge United 101 Golden Greats by Kevin Palmer