Ian Baird - Fans memories of a Leeds United cult hero

He was the Leeds United striker who gave the Elland Road faithful something to believe in.

Saturday, 24th October 2020, 4:45 pm
Ian Baird celebrates scoring against Shrewsbury Town in May 1985. PIC: Varley Picture Agency
Ian Baird celebrates scoring against Shrewsbury Town in May 1985. PIC: Varley Picture Agency

Ian Baird's attitude, work rate, aggression and skill captivated a generation of fans as Leeds United stumbled around in the gloom of the 1980s.

The extent to which Baird was respected was demonstrated by the fact that he was made skipper by the club’s greatest ever captain, Billy Bremner.

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Ian Baird celebrates scoring with Tommy Wright. PIC: Varley Picture Agency

While Baird’s first spell would be characterised by a series of bitter disappointments, such as the 1987 FA Cup semi-final loss and the play-off defeat at St. Andrews, upon his return from Portsmouth he would finally find success. He was brought back for only £120,000 and resettled quickly, winning the club’s player of the year award. And he played a key role in the first half of Howard Wilkinson’s first season at the club as Leeds fought for promotion from the second tier.

Your YEP has asked the Elland Road faithful to share their memories of Bairdy, a striker

Responses included:

Dane Bulger - "Would stick his head in helicopter blades to win a header. Legend."

Ian Baird celebrates scoring with Ian Snodin. PIC: Varley Picture Agency

Mark Scott - "All action, no nonsense player."

Max Tunnel - "Great player. Great header of the ball."

David Ingham - "Always gave 110 per cent and got stuck in. Loved him for us."

Chris Self - "Wholehearted player who would never let you down. Crowd loved him."

Brian Richardson - "What a player ran through walls."

Stephen Gardner - "Put his head where some won't put their foot."

Dave Martin - "Tough as an ox."

John Dickerson - "Hard as bloody nails. Just as we like em."

Phil Reeves - "I travelled up from Leicester when Ian made his second debut for Leeds against Plymouth at home. He didn't disappoint and bagged the only goal of the game. Even breaking down on the M1 going home in the pouring rain didn't dampen the spirits."

Matthew Clarke - Was at Birmingham for the last game of the season, moved to a Friday night. Bairdy threw his shirt to me at the end of the game, think we lost 1-0 but I was hammered. I had a brief nano second of glory with the shirt in my hand then it disappeared, snatched and gone."

Adam Winston (@Adam_Winston) - "Wigan, quarter-final of FA Cup in 1987. Bairdy wasn't playing - he was sat next to me at Springfield Park. When we scored both goals, we hugged like best buddies. 2-0 win."

Dazza71 (@OntheBielsaBus) - "You knew what you was getting with Baird. A no nonsense old fashioned striker who would put his head where others would be scared to put their foot.

Greatest memory was his diving headed winner against fellow promotion rivals Newcastle in 1989. Leeds fans always love a 100 per cent man."

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Laura Collins