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BBC Scotland's Kenneth Macdonald reports
"His ashes will be buried at Ibrox"
 real 56k

Friday, 20 April, 2001, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
Final farewells to legend Baxter
Baxter wreath
A wreath from the star's sons spells out their affection
Scores of mourners have paid tribute to former Rangers and Scotland football idol Jim Baxter.

The soccer legend died at the weekend after a long battle against cancer and his funeral took place at Glasgow Cathedral.

Family members, Scottish football stars, politicians and members of the public paid their last respects to the former Ibrox idol, who was affectionately known as "Slim Jim".

Baxter died of cancer at the age of 61 on Saturday.

Jim lifted my spirits and he did the same for those around him

Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie
He spent a month in hospital after being diagnosed with the disease before returning to his Glasgow home to spend his final days with his family.

Leading the mourners at the service were Baxter's father Robert, his sons Allan and Steven, who left affectionate floral tributes to their father, and his ex-partner Norma Morton.

Present at the ceremony were a host of Rangers players past and present including Gordon Smith, Jimmy Miller, Colin Jackson, Brian McMillan, Barry Ferguson and Allan Johnson.

Rangers manager Dick Advocaat and his predecessor Walter Smith attended, as did Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and former United and Scotland star Denis Law.

Baxter family
The star's father Robert and sons Allan and Steve
Fans paid their respects and many arrived dressed in Rangers tops and scarves.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown and Scottish First Minister Henry McLeish joined the high profile mourners.

The Reverend Dr William Morris spoke of his admiration for Baxter at the beginning of the service.

He said: "For those of us who were spectators seeing him from a further distance, his retirement from the game left us and our lives that much the poorer."

Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie told how he had spent a lot of time with Baxter in the weeks leading up to his death and had been touched by the way he faced up to the cancer he was suffering.

He said: "A couple of weeks ago I went to meet Jim Baxter. Instead of me comforting Jim about what lay ahead, Jim laughed and joked as only he could.

'Greatest players'

"His concern was never for himself, it was for his two sons.

"Jim lifted my spirits and he did the same for those around him."

Mourners laughed as Rev MacQuarrie told them how he believed Baxter would now be sitting in heaven and getting used to his new surroundings.

He said: "Jim was one of the greatest football players this country ever produced and also one of this nation's most loved characters."

Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson was among the mourners

The Bible readings at the service were delivered by Baxter's son Allan and Mr Brown, a life-long fan of Raith Rovers, the club where the star started his career.

The order of service which mourners were handed as they entered Glasgow Cathedral also contained a booklet urging people to become organ donors.

Baxter received two liver transplants in the same week in 1994.

Author and broadcaster William McIlvanney described Baxter as a man who loved Rangers. He said the club gave him the big stage and it also cared about him.

Mr McIlvanney said he had heard some people describe Jim Baxter as "an idol with feet of clay".

'Pure gold'

"But they were not made of clay," he said.

"They were made of pure gold and the left was probably inlaid with diamonds, although the rest was definitely clay."

Among the first to arrive for the service was Lisbon Lion Billy McNeill, ex-Celtic captain and manager.

Speaking outside the cathedral, McNeill said that he was feeling "quite sad" and praised Baxter's footballing abilities.

He said he had expected to see the huge crowd which gathered outside to listen to the funeral service on a public relay service.

Rangers fan
A young fan pays his tribute to the legend
"I think it is inevitable when you get a figure like Jim who was so popular with both his fans and his colleagues. He was a decent fellow."

Baxter's coffin had arrived adorned with flowers spelling out the words Dad and the number six, which was the number he had worn on his team shirt.

The pall bearers at the funeral were six of his former club's greatest stars - John Greig, Ralph Brand, Alex Willoughby, Sandy Jardine, Craig Watson and Willie Henderson.

As Baxter's coffin was carried out of the cathedral, to music from the Black Watch Pipers, there was applause from the crowds who had gathered to pay tribute to the soccer legend.

We've lost one of the greatest players that Scotland ever had

Denis Law
A private service for close friends and family followed at Linn Crematorium in Glasgow's south side.

Baxter's ashes were later due to be buried at Ibrox behind the goal at the Copland Road end during a private ceremony.

Since his death on Saturday, a makeshift shrine to Baxter has appeared at the Rangers ground.

Speaking as he left the cathedral, Sir Alex Ferguson said: "I've got a million memories of Jim - far too many to mention.

"He was the best player Scotland has ever produced without question. We are never going to see anyone like him again."

Denis Law, the former Manchester United and Scotland striker, said: "We've lost one of the greatest players that Scotland ever had."

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See also:

15 Apr 01 | Scotland
Baxter: a God-given genius
18 Apr 01 | Scotland
Baxter: simply sensational
15 Apr 01 | Scotland
Celtic fans and Sir Alex pay tribute
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