Leeds United F.C. History
Leeds United F.C. History : Foreword
1919-29 - The Twenties
1930-39 - The Thirties
1939-46 - The War Years
1947-49 - Post War Depression
1949-57 - The Reign of King John
1957-63 - From Charles to Revie
1961-75 - The Revie Years
1975-82 - The Downward Spiral
1982-88 - The Dark Years
1988-96 - The Wilko Years
1996-04 - The Rollercoaster Ride
2004-17 - Down Among The Deadmen
100 Greatest LUFC Players Ever
Greatest Leeds United Games
Players' Profiles
Managers' Profiles
Leeds City F.C. History
Leeds City F.C. Player and Manager Profiles
Leeds United/City Statistics
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Leeds United/City Friendlies and Other Games
Leeds United/City Reserves and Other Teams

Baird: Archibald (Archie)

WW2 Guest: 1940-1941 (Leeds United War-time Guest Player Details)

Inside Right

Born: Rutherglen, Lanarkshire: 08-05-1919

Debut: v Manchester City (h): 21-09-1940

Height & Weight: Unknown

Baird started playing with Strathclyde Juniors and then Rutherglen Glencairn. A youngster of great promise, he rejected offers from Blackpool, Motherwell, St Mirren, Partick Thistle and others, when he was signed by Aberdeen in the summer of 1938, on a two year contract. He started in the Club's Reserve team and the inside forward had not made his debut when the Second World War brought Football to a halt. He was at Aberdeen learning to be a professional player and also training to be an Architect. Just a couple of months later he was conscripted and was very soon in France as a member of a medical corps unit with the ill-fated British Expeditionary Force. He missed the evacuation of Dunkirk, and only managed to leave France on the last ship out of St Nazaire. That was in the summer of 1940. By Christmas he was in the Western Desert, and by May 1942 had been captured by the Germans near Tobruk and handed over to the Italians. He was at El Adem when his field ambulance attached to the infantry unit had been surrounded by a squadron of German tanks. They ended up in a camp near Tripoli, called Suani Ben Adem. It was a filthy hell-hole, a huge rectangular strip of oasis surrounded by a wire fence and sentry towers. Prisoners were unable to do anything and many died there. He was interred there for four years, spent his twenty-first birthday in a tent 'somewhere in France' and his football was confined to games for the unit team, a kick about with the lads and the occasional improvised training session. Since the war had broken out he had only played in two first class games, both with Leeds United as a guest player while he was stationed at Headingly Cricket Ground awaiting transfer to Egypt. He played twice for United, both games being at Inside-Right. The first at Elland Road, in his Leeds debut, on 21st September 1940, in a 0-0 draw with Manchester City, and the second a week later at Goodison Park where Leeds were hammered 1-5. The only consolation for him was that he got the lone Leeds goal. While interred in Italy he recalled the excitement of playing against the pre-war Everton stars; Tommy Jones, Cliff Britton, Joe Mercer and the great Tommy Lawton. But not even the good memory of scoring a goal for Leeds that day could make him forget the seriousness of his situation. Baird spent much of his time during the hostilities as a POW in Italy but it was his story of what happened after his escape that was truly a tale of human courage and compassion. After eighteen months as a captive, Archie and his close friend Harold 'Smudger' Smith escaped to the foothills of the Apennines, free, but still in enemy-occupied territory. They headed south after news of an Allied landing on the Italian coast suggested that would have been their best route. However, the journey was an arduous one with German patrols prominent. Their route to safety was achieved by living off the land and the generosity of sympathetic Italian farmers and peasants they met along the way. It was on that long trek to freedom that Archie came across an Italian family that would 'adopt' him as one of their own for several months as the harsh winter set in. The Pilotti family were Italian farmers who looked after Archie. They also helped his good friends, Harold and Tom, who had joined them along the way, and had found similar families nearby to house the two escapees. Archie made life-long friendships during those days and daily news of Allied advances helped raise spirits. Archie also, by his association with his new friends, had managed to speak the language. The German occupation waned by the day and news came of the Allied efforts of success in Italy. As they made their way to eventual freedom they could hear gunfire in the distance. The activity in the air was increasing as Baird made his way north. The Germans were retreating north and their convoy was an easy target for Allied fighters and bombers. He and his friends eventually arrived in a village called Sarnano where it was soon to become Allied occupied territory, his feelings were mixed as the Italian people did not really understand what was happening as the Union flag was raised in their town. He came back to the United Kingdom a completely different person. He had gone away as a raw young laddie and came back after experiencing a lot. He had more confidence in himself and as far as football was concerned he was thrust straight into the Aberdeen first team, so it just developed from there. On his return to Falmouth he had started playing for his unit team and for Aldershot, but there was just one game in which he did not score, in the 1944-45 season. By early 1945 he was stationed at Edinburgh Castle and playing for Aberdeen when he could get leave arranged. The Scottish Command then selected him for a tour of the Orkney Islands and he met up with some players he would face in the coming months. However the most important day for him was stepping out at Pittodrie to face Hearts for the first time in seven years and he was at last, making his first team debut. The war ended in May 1945 and he was demobbed in September 1945. He was twenty-six when he duly made his full debut for Aberdeen on 11th August 1945 in a 3-0 home win aver Third Lanark in front of 15,000 fans. He gained his only Scotland Cap on Wednesday 23rd January 1946 when he played against Belgium in front of a crowd of 48,830 at Hampden Park. The Scottish team was: Robert Brown (Queens Park); James McGowan (Partick Thistle), John Shaw (Rangers, Captain.); Jimmy Campbell (Clyde), Andrew Paton (Motherwell), George Paterson (Celtic); Gordon Smith (Hibernian), Archie Baird (Aberdeen), Jimmy Delaney (Manchester United), John Deakin (St Mirren), Jimmy Walker (Heart of Midlothian). Delaney opened the scoring after fifty minutes, Lamberecht equalised for Belgium, after sixty-four minutes and then Chaves gave them a 2-1 lead after seventy-five minutes. Jimmy Delaney saved the day with a last minute penalty for Scotland. The game should never have been played as the ground was covered in snow. It ended in a 2-2 draw but the thick fog made conditions all the more difficult. Jimmy Delaney and Gordon Smith were the stars of that side, comprised mainly of players untried at International level. It was not an ideal international to play in but the Victory International against England was something else. It was the last war-time international and was seen as a celebration of the end of hostilities. Baird was delighted to be selected for the Scotland team. He was looking forward to be be facing some famous names like Frank Swift, Len Shackleton and Billy Wright. The Saturday before the international Aberdeen were playing Partick Thistle at Firhill. Baird went down in a tackle with Jackie Husband and he knew at once that he was seriously injured. On the Monday he had to withdraw from the Scotland team as the injury worsened. It was a sad day for him although his team mate George Hamilton took his place. One of the highlights of Baird's Pittodrie career came when the Dons won the Southern League Cup in May 1946 and then the Scottish Cup a year later. Baird made twenty-nine League appearances in 1945-46, scoring nine goals and got a further six in ten appearances in the Southern League Cup. The Dons topped their group, just pipping Hibernian on goal difference, scoring twenty-one and conceding thirteen, as they won four and lost two of their six fixtures. The other two teams in their group were Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock. In the Quarter-Final they beat Ayr United 2-0 at Pittodrie, before drawing their Semi-Final 2-2 with Airdrieonians at Ibrox, winning 5-3 at the same venuein the Replay. After the injury at Partick Thistle, Baird had a month to recover if he was to make it for the final against Rangers. Aberdeen prepared in Largs for three days before the game and they also had to contend with the butt of all jokes as Aberdeen had never won a national trophy at that time. The game was a real highlight for Baird personally as he scored a goal in the opening minute. Andy Cowie sent in a long throw and George Hamilton flicked the ball on with his head. Baird managed to leap past George Young to score. When Stan Williams scored just before half time, the big Aberdeen contingent was convinced they had done enough. Rangers came back though, and the game was tied at 2-2 as it moved into the final minutes. In the last seconds George Taylor popped up with a sensational winner and the cup was Aberdeen's. A year later, on 26th April 1947 Aberdeen won the Scottish Cup, as well, beating Hibernian 2-1 in the Final. Aberdeen had got past Partick Thistle 2-1 at Pittodrie in the First Round, before annihalating Ayr United 8-0 at Pittodrie in the Second. They were held 1-1 at home, before winning at Greenock Morton 2-1 in the Third Round. The Quarter Finals saw them win 2-1 at Dundee. It was back again to Dens Park, in front of 22,000 on 12th April 1947 to face Arbroath in the Semi-Finals. Stan Williams was on the mark in the forty-third and seventieth minute to give the Dons a 2-0 victory. A fortnight later, in front of a crowd of 82,140 at Hampden Park, Aberdeen faced Hibernian. The teams lined up: Aberdeen: George Johnstone; Pat McKenna, George Taylor; Joe McLaughlin, Frank Dunlop, Willie Waddell; Tony Harris, George Hamilton, Stan Williams, Archie Baird, Willie McCall.Hibernian: Jimmy Kerr; Jock Govan, Davie Shaw; Hugh Howie, Peter Aird, Sammy Kean; Gordon Smith, Willie Finnigan, John Cuthbertson, Eddie Turnbull, Willie Ormond. There was a huge Aberdeen following on that day, as supporters came from all over, as far away as Orkney and Shetland. It was a true north east invasion. It was an amazing experience but after John Cuthbertson had given Hibs the lead in the opening minute they were somewhat subdued. But the Dons hit back and George Hamilton equalised in the thirty-sixth minute. Just six minutes later Baird took up a position at the near post as Stan Williams cut in from the bye-line. He was shouting at Williams to cut the ball back, but the South African flicked the ball in at the near post for a great goal. Williams later admitted to Baird that he had heard his shout but he noticed Hibernian keeper Jimmy Kerr move off his line in anticipation. So Williams had given the Dons the lead three minutes before half-time and the second half stayed scoreless for Aberdeen to win the Scottish Cup for the first time. In the 1946-47 season, Baird scored six goals in fourteen League games, once in two Scottish Cup games, and played three Scottish League Cup games without scoring. He remained at Pittodrie until the 1952-53 season. Sometimes he was restricted by injuries but his record was as follows: 1947-48: three Scottish League goals in thirteen appearances, four Scottish Cup goals in seven ties, and two games in the Scottish League Cup without scoring, but he managed a hat-trick in his only appearance in other games. 1948-49: One goal in seven Scottish League games. 1949-50: Six Scottish League goals in eighteen games, no goals in five Scottish League Cup ties and a hat-trick in his only other game. 1950-51: Five goals in twenty-seven Scottish League games, four goals in ten F.A. Cup ties, one goal in three Scottish League Cup ties and three other games without scoring. 1951-52: Five goals in twenty-three Scottish League games, one goal in four Scottish League Cup ties and two goals in eight other games. 1952-53 He played two Scottish League games and four Scottish Cup games, without scoring. He played a total of one hundred and sixty-nine League and Cup games and scored forty-six times for Aberdeen in those competitions. Looking back at his playing career, Baird praised George Hamilton as being the best player to play for the club. He joined St Johnstone in 1953 and scored three times in seventy-two appearances before retiring in 1956. At McDiarmid Park Baird enjoyed a fruitful Indian summer, moving back to wing-half and missing only a handful of matches as the Saints twice finished in upper mid-table, then narrowly missed promotion to the top flight in 1955-56, his last campaign. He immediately began working as a sports writer for the Scottish Daily Express. Despite offers to go full time as a journalist, he continued with his career as a Physical Education teacher, a profession he had taken up during his time at Pittodrie. He rose to become assistant head of Hilton Academy in Aberdeen by the time he retired in 1979. Somehow he even chiselled out the necessary time from his crowded schedule to qualify as a glider pilot. Baird believed passionately in education, achieving degrees in English and Italian through the University of London by correspondence course in the 1960s then teaching his second language at evening class. A warm, gregarious and charming man who had come to love all things Italian, he moved to Italy for a year from 1980, along with his wife Nancy, to teach English there. His attachment to journalism was equally deep, many of his family members were practitioners, including his brother-in-law Magnus Magnusson and Magnusson's daughter Sally, and he became a popular columnist on the Aberdeen-based monthly magazine Leopard. Baird was an author, too, penning a moving autobiography, Family Of Four in 1989. It was a book in which his love of football was abundantly evident, but which illustrated eloquently his appreciation of its rightful place when he came to consider the more profound values of life. He died at Cove, Aberdeen on 3rd November 2009.

League 21