Baker Frank Image 2 Stoke City 1937

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Baker Frank Image 2 Stoke City 1937

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Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire born left winger Frank Baker began his football career as an amateur playing for Port Vale’s reserves in 1935-36 without appearing for their first eleven. His performances for Vale’s second string caught the attention for Wolverhampton Wanderers and on one evening manager Major Frank Buckley was due to travel to Vale to sign Baker. But Stoke City manager Bob McGrory caught wind of the potential transfer and arrived earlier and persuaded Baker to sign for Stoke instead, turing professional with the Potters in June 1936 and making his Football League debut in a First Division match against Liverpool that October.

He became a regular in the Stoke first team from the beginning of the next season, scoring twelve goals, finishing as the club’s second highest goalscorer and missing only one match as Stoke finished 17th, following up with 10 more goals in 1938-39, the last peacetime season before the Second World War. He was called up for army duty in 1939 and therefore played few matches for Stoke in the War League, although he did guest for Sunderland and Northern Irish club Linfield. He played for Stoke against Bolton Wanderers during the Burnden Park disaster on 9th March 1946.

When League football resumed in 1946-47, Baker had competition in the form of the hunchback Alexander Ormston. McGrory decided to move Baker to inside left to replace the retired Tommy Sale, and although his goalscoring suffered the pair formed one of the best left wing combinations in the country which helped Stoke nearly win the First Division title, The Potters losing their must win match against Sheffield United 2-1, Stoke finishing fourth to Liverpool.

Baker then suffered a crop of serious injuries which ended his career; in August 1947 he broke his arm against Liverpool and missed most of the 1947-48 season. He broke his leg against Manchester United in October 1948 and then fractured it again at Wolves five games into his comeback in April 1949. In all, Baker broke bones five times in two years. After 33 goals in 177 appearances for Stoke either side of the War he joined Stafford Rangers in 1950, moving to Leek Town in 1951, however due to his injuries he retired in the summer of 1951 on the advice of doctors.

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