The legendary Neil Baker has spent his final day at Crewe Alexandra after 23 incredible seasons with the Football Club!
Following the closure of the transfer window, Bakes will now make a full-time return to management with his local club at Leek Town. He previously managed Leek Town for eight seasons, famously leading them to the final of the FA Trophy in 1990. Leek lost 3-0 to Barrow at Wembley Stadium.
Baker became Dario Gradi’s assistant manager in 1994 and was part of the staff that saw us twice win promotion to the Championship in 1997 and 2003. Baker also assisted Steve Davis when the club won the League Two play-offs in 2012 and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy 12 months’ later.
In his later years at the club, Baker used his eye for spotting talented players, to become our head of recruitment. Over the years, he has famously scouted the likes of Colin Little, Steve Jones, Tom Pope, Luke Varney, John Brayford and Justin Cochrane from the non-league scene.
During his long association with Crewe Alexandra, Bakes has served managers Dario, Steve Davis, Steve Holland and Gudjon Thordarson will great distinction, as well as offering his years of experience to David Artell and Kenny Lunt.
In his own tribute, Artell said: “Neil has been a great servant to this football club and he deserves all the plaudits which will no doubt be coming his way. He’s been terrific to me personally and he is going to be a loss to the club.
“But Neil explained he wants a crack at management, and I wouldn’t try to stand in his way.
“It’s his decision and we wish him all the best. I’m sure he’ll answer his phone to us, and likewise we’ll help him in any way we can.”
Baker said: “I’ve had so much fun in football and a lot of laughs along the way. There are plenty of down days as well, but in the main I’ve enjoyed it and the success we have had.
“There are so many memories but it is always special to win promotion and I’m very grateful that I have been able to do that a few times at Crewe. It is always special winning at Wembley and the only time I’ve lost there is with Leek!
“I’ve been able to work with some great people along the way and the supporters have always been good with me. I can only thank everybody.
“It is always difficult to talk about highlights and I have worked with some top players as well. If I was to pick the top three, for me it would be Danny Murphy, Seth Johnson and Dean Ashton. It didn’t surprise me that they reached the very top and went on to play for England.
“I’ve had a terrific time at Crewe but Leek is my hometown club and I’ve always wanted to return there one day and give something back. I always felt there was some unfinished business there and I just wanted one last crack at management. “
Bake will be sorely missed and everyone at Crewe Alexandra would like to say thank you and good luck with the remainder of your career in football mate…