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Carl Baker and Stockport - an example to us all

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Paul Fletcher | 13:28 UK time, Monday, 14 September 2009

In an age when football is a multi-million pound global business I often struggle to relate to the game and its protagonists, who have become remote celebrity figures with little in common with the people who pay handsomely to watch them.

But every now and again a story comes along that unlocks something emotional deep inside me, the sort that really makes me feel as though I can empathise with a footballer once more.

This is one of them.

League One Stockport drew 2-2 at Yeovil on Saturday. It was a result which took both teams on to six points so far in the season and was in many ways unremarkable.

What made it significant was that both the Stockport goals were scored by Hatters forward Carl Baker, taking his tally to nine goals for the season and making him the highest scorer in the country this season.

Just days earlier Stockport manager Gary Ablett had the unenviable task of breaking the news to Baker that the player's elder brother Michael had lost his battle against leukaemia.

Baker was under no pressure to play on Saturday but called Ablett on Thursday evening to say that he wanted to be part of the team.

Stockport's Carl BakerBaker, shown here wearing the Hatters pre-season kit, scored twice on Saturday days after the death of his brother

After putting Stockport in front with his 22nd minute penalty he raced to the dugout and collected a T-shirt he had prepared in advance. It said 'For u Mike' and Baker held it aloft while all of his team-mates, goalkeeper included, rushed to join him.

At the end of the game Baker was sent over to the away supporters by Ablett. A couple of hundred had made the long trek south to Huish Park and they presented the striker with a card that everyone in the away end had signed.

Baker was hugged by many of them and I'm told that it was a genuinely emotional moment. For me, it is an example of what football is really all about.

Baker's brother had been in attendance at Stockport's last home game and I could only imagine how difficult it must have been for Carl to retain his focus and concentration for last Saturday's match.

Perhaps it provided a distraction for Carl, who has been in brilliant form this season; a real bag of tricks playing just behind the main striker. Perhaps he felt that if he played he might score and would then have the opportunity to make a public demonstration of his feelings for his older brother.

To make matters even worse, Baker's younger brother also has leukaemia and it is obviously an extremely difficult time for the whole family.

I'm told that Baker is a typical scouser, a little bit cheeky, a very bubbly character and fun to be around. Now 26, he came into the professional game relatively late having joined Morecambe in 2007.

It means that he appreciates every single day he spends as a professional player. In my experience professionals who have previously worked in a 'normal' job often have a greater appreciation of the privilege of being paid to play the game.

Stockport brought him to Edgeley Park in July 2008 for a figure in the region of £200,000 - a lot of money in the lower leagues. He is clearly at the right club.

The Hatters are currently in administration but they have gone above and beyond what could be expected to raise the profile of Leukaemia Research.

The club's players wore a cerise pink and black striped shirt for their pre-season friendlies. It has a historical connection as they are the colours Stockport wore in 1900, but the Leukaemia Research logo was featured on them.

The shirts are now being auctioned off to raise money for the charity and are fetching £200 a piece. The players and staff at the club have pitched in to buy one for £500.

With Stockport in administration they aren't a particularly attractive proposition for business investment so every unused advertising board at Edgeley Park is currently filled with one for Leukaemia Research.

When a board is eventually sold the club, despite their financial travails, are donating 30% of the fee to Leukaemia Research.

The club decided to raise money for the charity as a Baker and several other staff at the club have relations suffering from blood cancer diseases. As someone at Stockport told me: "We might have done a lot wrong at the club but we have got this just about right."

I couldn't agree more. Thousands of words are written every weekend about the latest flare-up in the Premier League, the hottest transfer rumour or the latest takeover talk.

But I cannot help but feel that Baker's courage, his bond with the Hatters supporters and Stockport's willingness to embrace such a worthy cause chimes with what made me first fall in love with football.

And I wish all of them well.

You can follow me throughout the season at twitter.com

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    This guy needs to be shown to the top teams and to show them that there wining diving and immature antics (adebayor) are getting them no where.

    good blog my friend

  • Comment number 2.

    Good on stockport, in the days where money is everything, what they are doing is pure class, many other clubs should take a leaf out of their book.
    I,m sorry to hear about his older brother, and I wish the best of luck to his younger brother and hope he overcomes his illness.
    Keep on scoring Baker and hopefully more people will take notice of Stockport and the good things they are doing for charity!

    Best wishes to the Baker family

  • Comment number 3.

    every now and again you read a piece that humbles you, this article is one of those and I thank you for writing it

    I lost my brother to testicular cancer 7 years ago. He died on a Saturday morning. For 10 years we had played side by side in a local sunday league team, and the next day i pulled on the shirt and played - because he would have wanted me to. I scored the first in a 3-0 win, and it was probably the biggest outlet of emotion I had during the whole period. My heart goes out to Carl Baker and his family for their loss, but I am sure his brother would have been so very proud of him on Saturday!

    The chap who posted comment no1 got it spot on as well!

  • Comment number 4.

    Paul,

    Possibly the best blog I've ever read. I was at Yeovil on Saturday and just to see the courage, class and strength from Carl was amazing. The tribute to his brother was very well done.

    When he came over to the fans he was shocked that we'd done a card for him.

    This is why we watch lower league football. You can shove the greedy league as far as I'm concerned

  • Comment number 5.

    Terrific piece. Bought a tear to my eye and I'm reading it in the office! Class stuff from the Yeovil fans also.

  • Comment number 6.

    Football at the top level has lost its soul.

    County fan and proud.

    RIP Mike Baker.

  • Comment number 7.

    Fantastic article. Tremendous effort from Carl Baker and a fitting tribute to his brother.

    The example of Stockport County, and their manager, players and fans should strike a chord with many wealthier clubs - sadly I think we all know that it won't.

    I might be a Wednesday fan at heart, but Stockport County have gained a new admirer here - and I hope I am one of many.

  • Comment number 8.

    An absolutely fantastic blog

    What a man Carl Baker is, and what a generous football club Stockport County is.

    I wish the very best to the Bakers after this hard time.

  • Comment number 9.

    Well done Paul on constructing one of the most poignant blogs i have ever read.
    As a Liverpool fan, its very easy to get wrapped up in the Premiership and accept the behaviours and traits of its fans and players as the norm. Reading this reminds us, as you say, why we came to love the game to begin with.
    Truly touching, and really has left me with a lot to think about - there are many learns to be had for many fans after reading this blog.
    Also, the conduct and fund raising of Stockport as a club whilst staring administration in the face is truly admirable.

    Full credit to the humanity of the Yeovil fans and my thoughts are with the Baker family.

    Thank you :-)

  • Comment number 10.

    The loss of a loved one is never easy to overcome and seems to have been dealt with with great dignity by Stockport, Yeovil and the fans of both sides.

    The ridiculous wages that players earn, and by association the directors of the blubs who started paying these ridiculous wages, have been consistnetly ripping the heart and soul out of football for the past 20 years. It is always refreshing to read a story, bad though the circumstances are, about a club that still maintains strong links with its fans, treating them as part of a wider community rather than an expendable resource, which happens at the higher end of the game.

    Well done Stockport, Gary Ablett and all the fans who signed the card and may Michael Baker Rest In Peace.

  • Comment number 11.

    very touching story. what courage the boy has, and the fans.

    cant see that happening in the premier league, which is quite unfortunate really.

    rest in peace, mike baker. and all the best to the younger brother and the bakers.

    http://wdkf.co.uk/

  • Comment number 12.

    Great article, quite emotional.

  • Comment number 13.

    Yeah, spot on.Top level football has lost it's way and it's ties with anything other than the banks. Hard to see any of the big 4 donating 30% of their advertising revenue to anything other than shareholders.

    I know from experience playing football can help you through the worst of times and adversity can inspire you to great feats. Well done to Carl and hats off to the Yeovil supporters. Reminds me of days of yore when cluba and communities were symbiotic. Well done Stockport County!

  • Comment number 14.

    As a Chelsea supporter i read this article with much interest. It shows all of the premier teams up, it shows them that humility and courage is still in football, if not in the premier league, and it also shows what true, loyal fans will do for their team. Stockport fans need to congratulate each other for showing such kindness that would very rarely be seen in a premier league game, instead the premier supporting morons want to throw things at players and stewards who are there to do a job, Man.C Vs Arsenal, it makes me cringe when this sort of story is brought to light. I sincerely wish Carl and all his family & friends the very best for the future and pray that his younger brother comes through a most difficult time, one thing to note Carl, at the very least you have a tremendous bunch of supporters who obviously are real supporters and who will help you and the team out through thick & thin, i only wish i had the money to help get your team out of administration, it would be an honour to be able to write a cheque for the club, Mr Abramovich, if this story gets back to you, put your hand into your pockets and help this fantatstic club out, it's clubs like this that keeps our faith in our fantatstic game, and gives us all hope for the future of football.
    A brilliant post, good luck for the rest of the season Stockport.

  • Comment number 15.

    What an amazing story; and so moving. This is the story that should be headlining BBC's sport pages; not the antics from the likes of Adebayor who are ruining our beautiful game.
    Hope lives on with the likes of clubs such as Stockport County.
    Carl Baker has my utmost admiration and Stockport football club another fan.
    My deepest sympathy to all the Baker family.

  • Comment number 16.

    Given County's current predicament and financial worries this is a fine story and one that puts a number of things that have happened locally this last weekend into sharp contrast.

    Perhaps if this story (and others in a similar vein) got the acreage of wasted lines of typeface instead of the antics of certain players at the COMS then football would indeed be richer for it (in the real sense). But then again, these type of stories don't sell the newspapers.

    It goes without saying that many football fans will applaud County for their efforts and approach and that both the player and the club can look forward to happier times ahead.

  • Comment number 17.

    As a Brighton fan, I am watching Stockport County Old Boys this season - about half our team used to play for County and their financially-induced losses have been very much our gains.

    We are also well aware of Carl Baker, as he scored a hat-trick at Withdean Stadium last month when County beat us 4-2, including a quite brilliant chip over the goalkeeper and a 6' 3" central defender on the line for his second! He showed then what a fine player he is and as your blog confirms, he has shown now what a fine man he is...

    Best wishes to all the Baker family...

  • Comment number 18.

    Beautifully written and a touching story

    With players like Carl Baker the little clubs will always survive

    Let's hope that Carl can remain a beacon of hope to his younger brother and to County

  • Comment number 19.

    excellent blog again Paul. 19th anniversary of my mum's death from cancer today and this strikes a real chord...

    Carl, Stockport & their travelling fans deserve all the plaudits they get.

  • Comment number 20.

    Having been born and raised on Merseyside - I read your column and thought back to when we were young and first fell in love with the beautiful game. Those were gentler times....however, you brought them home to me today. The "away" Yeovil fans signing the sympathy card was SO moving but so right. Carl Baker and family must have been so touched.
    This should be "must" reading for all the top premier league teams.
    Watched the Chelsea game on Saturday morning here in Toronto and haven't seen so much whining in all my life - then five minutes overtime to allow Chelsea to score, enough already.
    Thank you for brightening my day, Paul....your writing is always fine but today it was enriching.
    Wishing Stockport fans and team (and esp. Carl's family) all the very best for a great season.

  • Comment number 21.

    Fantastic story. It shows that there are people in football (players, managers and fans) who are decent and can focus on doing some good in the community. Sheff Wed and Villa have also done something similar recently. Very touching and sad that his younger brother is ill with the same thing.

    Carl and his family deserve everyone's sympathies

  • Comment number 22.

    dodiesmith - the away fans were stockport supporters as the game was at Yeovil

  • Comment number 23.

    As a County fan I'm glad Baker is getting the plaudits he deserves. He has been our best player this season and arguably the best in the division despite the chaos in his family life.

    However, I don't agree that stories like this are exclusive to lower leagues. I recall Frank Lampard, Wilson Palacious and Titi Camara all playing for big Premier League clubs following family deaths; Lampard scored the winning goal in a Champions League semi final just days after burying his mother. Premier League clubs might not donate 30% of their wealth to charity but they do set up charitable foundations. Look at Ulises de la Cruz back in Ecuador or Didier Drogba in the Ivory Coast. Good stories about Stockport may not sell players but, frankly, heartwarming stories about Premier League clubs don't either, that's why the Sun prefers headlines like City Twitty Ban Ban about Adebayor and so on.

    Chelsea gave Scarborough FC, then my local league side, some financial assistance a few years ago (not that Scarborough did any good with it) and I think Olof Mellberg bought signed shirts for every Aston Villa away fan at his last match for the club.

  • Comment number 24.

    A great article and a truly touching story that was well worth bringing into public view with this blog. I'd only say, in response to one particular poster, that there are a lot of premier league clubs with fans that would behave exactly like those of Stockport, should a similar case happen to one of their own players. To simply use this story as a way of attacking Arsenal fans for being rightly upset with the actions of Adebayor isn't really on.

  • Comment number 25.

    Amazing story I wish you and your team success for the rest of the season.

  • Comment number 26.

    A fantastic blog beautifully written. I would like to wish Carl and his family my best wishes and well done to Stockport for all their support for Leukaemia.

    I would like to say that I have a lot of admiration for Barcelona sporting the Unicef logo on their shirts. They couldn't have their logo in a better place.

    Well done Carl, Stockport and Barca

  • Comment number 27.

    Carl Baker and Stockport County have a new fan. I'm humbled by this story, it restores faith in the football world and makes you realise that there are still real football people out there. I'm no Man City hater, but my first thoughts when reading this blog were; Adebayor, read this blog and then hang your head and your over inflated and overpaid ego in shame.

    Ghod bless the Baker family at this testing time.

  • Comment number 28.

    @15

    Hit the nail on the head there, this should indeed be the #1 story. This is what the beautiful game is about, sticking together, whether the same team or opposition it doesn't matter, situations such as this being to light the passion of the game. It's amazing how much people rally round when something of this nature takes effect.

    Carl Baker deserves more than a pat on the back, more than a footballing award, he deserves a bravery award, though it seems doubtful considering the circumstances that'd he want it. It's testiment to lower league teams & supporters that this is how they deal with a tragedy. I applaud with the upmost respect Stockport & Yeovil both clubs & fans for the way they dealt with this. You are true football fans, and a part of the community which is being lost amongst the "Elite" with the millions being ploughed in.

    Lower league football is improving year on year, whereas the Premier League, it doesn't change. The same cheats, the same moaning & whinning from the same players & managers. The usual rumours of players transfering for £20, 30, 40m, and DEMANDING £100k a week? Ridiculous? Certainly!

    Then you have teams like Yeovil & Stockport, who strive to keep afloat and hope for a plum cup tie against one of the super rich clubs to help their coffers. Yet it's the "smaller" sides that show the rich exactly how it should be done. Donating 30% of board fees to a Charity for an extremely worthwhile cause, much more so than the pocket of Mr. Abramovich or the Sheik at City.

    Stockport, Yeovil, I applaud you.

    Carl Baker, I sincerely hope you gain success this season, you've come across as a true gentleman, and a man of true courage, you are a winner, regardless of your success this season, the true football fans who read this and feel the lump in their throat, those are the ones who matter, those are the ones who care, and those are the ones who appauld your commitment & bravery at such a difficult time. I wish Carl & his family all the best, and hopefully next time we see a blog with your name in it, it'll be confirming your brother's clean bill of health. My heart goes out to the Bakers, RIP Michael Baker, your brother has done you proud . . . . .

  • Comment number 29.

    The type of story that makes me proud to be a football fan. I was at Yeovil on Saturday and thought it was a very moving tribute, and this is from a Yeovil fan. RIP Mike Baker.

  • Comment number 30.

    Great article Paul, well highlighted and a pleasure to read. It does makes you realise that there are still real football people out there. If only more of these stories were shown to the majority of the so called top professionals.

    No words can do this story justice, but my thoughts are with the Baker family.......well done Carl

  • Comment number 31.

    As was said above, the Premier League is not bereft of heart-warming tales, Lomana Lua-Lua returning for Portsmouth after his 18 month old son had died, comes to mind.

    However, the generosity shown by Stockport is fantastic, and perhaps if the men in suits and the players on the pitch, in the Premier League, took a good look at this sotry, they might realise they don't actually need 150k a week to make them happy.

    Maybe if the BBC were to give this story a little more exposure it would help reconnect the football world with the real world.

  • Comment number 32.

    Chelsea, Manchester Who? Adebayor, Ronaldo forget all the big clubs/names.
    As a Stockport County fan and whilst on holiday in Devon recently i went to the Exeter -Yeovil game to take in a local football game.Real football clubs,with real hard working grass root football players, being watched by REAL supporters who actually worship their teams and don't follow then because its hip and trendy to do so.
    As a Stockport County fan i am proud to say that Carl Baker is a fantastic example to all at the club.This applied before the untimely death of his brother. Recent events however and him playing on Saturday only go to highlight the pride in his family and in his club.
    Well done Mr Baker everyone is extremely proud of you!

  • Comment number 33.

    Good blog Paul, great courage shown by Carl Baker and the bond that players share with their supporters is great to see and often forgotten especially in the Prem.

    A mention to Jack Collison also, who's father died in a motorbike accident on his way to see Jack play against Spurs. He showed more bravery than I could imagine in playing the next game against Millwall, and aside from the minority of idiots who ruined that game, there was genuine emotion and support from the majority of Hammers fans. I agree that moments like that briefly help us remember why we love football.

  • Comment number 34.

    Excellent piece that rightly presents Carl Baker as an outstanding individual. Credit to the Hatters also; nothing can compare to the desperately sad circumstances that the Baker family face, but given the turmoil that the club and its fans have had to deal with it is good to see them supporting Carl in this way.

  • Comment number 35.

    While Carl is fondly remembered at Morecambe, quite rightly so, Mike is also very warmly remembered. I only met him a few times but the pride in his brother, and as importantly, the rest of his family shone through. He was a top bloke.

    That two sons of the same family should get this disease is so unfair.
    That both battled it with bravery and humour is a lesson to us all.
    That Carl was able to honour Mike's memory by playing and scoring speaks volumes about the man and his love & respect for his brother.

    A Morecambe fan is running the Great North Run for Leukaemia Research, this fund raiser has sadly taken on a greater poignancy, if anyone wants to put their hand in their pocket...
    http://www.justgiving.com/Matt-Deighton/ I'm sure Matt Deighton will be remembering Mike as he runs.

  • Comment number 36.

    As a Hull fan who has followed my team throw thin to relevant thick at the moment this is exactly what I miss about the lower leagues.

    This would never happen in the Premier League but would be commonplace at almost every League One or Two ground where the players are just like the fans and go through it every weekend for love as opposed to financial gain. Many around the country think we are mental but there is a part of every single Hull fan I know that longs again for Torquay weekenders and standing behind the goal at Moss Rose or Spotland.

    Best wishes to all concerned.

  • Comment number 37.

    Great Blog

    I used to live in Manchester and still look for Stockport's results and also our keeper Wayne M Hennesey was there for a while.

    From today I will always look even more closely at SCFC because as a club and as a community of football fans you have shown all the rest of us what this game is really all about, I applaud you all to a man woman and child Stockport is a better place with you all being a part of it.

    To say well done does not seem enough....makes you reassess your own life at times like this.

  • Comment number 38.

    First of all thanks for a great article to read Paul, and an article that has touched people involved with football, it makes me proud to be a Stockport County fan but also a fan of lower league football in general!

    Carl Baker has been a great player for County since he joined from Morecambe in 2007!

    All the very best wishes to Carl and the Baker family

    Rest in Peace Mike Baker!

  • Comment number 39.

    Fair play to Carl - my little brother died from Cancer almost 2 years ago and I'm still a useless wreck...god knows how he managed to play after days only his brother's death.x

  • Comment number 40.

    Yeovil fan here. I didnt realise that his brother had passed away till i got to the game, and He was the best player on the pitch. took his goals very well, to play at all is admirable but to play like he did after loosing his brother is remarkable and the passion is why i love lower league football. Great respect to Carl and best wishes to him and his family.

    Rest in peace Mike Baker!

  • Comment number 41.

    I am a City fan that worries for is own club, this sort of event is where football should be. Honest and caring, where the players and fans are integral to the club and not the accountants.

    I hope that this story gets to some of the over paid and shelter 'superstars' and makes them reflect.

    I hope his younger brother recovers and I wish him and his family all the best for the future.

    steve

  • Comment number 42.

    what a well written blog. my heart goes out to Carl Baker & his family. football gets a lot of bad press [some of it deserved, some of it not] & the really good stuff gets lost in the wash.

    what Stockport is doing is absolutely brilliant in the face of adversity, in trying to save the club, by putting the human side 1st. i hope they & their fans get there just rewards

    RIP Mike Baker

  • Comment number 43.

    Mr Fletcher a wonderful article that puts the sport we all love into perspective.

    The best thing that could happen with the Baker families approval is for this to be run as a story on Football Focus.

    Having also noted the plight of Accrington Stanley - why for one weekend a season could the big fish not organise to support worthy grass roots causes such as these?

    Shame on those who watch these clubs struggle...

  • Comment number 44.

    I totally echo your blog. What a character. Best wishes to all concerned.

  • Comment number 45.

    Does anyone think that Ashley Cole reads articles such as this and then reflects on the chapter in his autobiography regarding his disgust at the 55k per week contract offered to him by Arsenal, before hanging his head in shame?

    I think we all know the answer....

  • Comment number 46.

    Carl after playing in the same schoolboy team with you at 15 for a year or so and meeting your dad you are both a credit to both your brothers!

    My heart goes out to you and your family.

    Absolute fantastic blog for an absolute fantastic footballer and person.

  • Comment number 47.


    Great article, very well written and 'hit the button' for a very worthy cause.

    Just a crying shame the Beeb hasn't quite seen it the same way and placed it better to allow a higher profile and more publicity.

    To all at SCFC and of course, their wonderful supporters, you have shown immense humanity to a family in great need.

    To the Baker family, we applaud your courage in such difficult times.

    From a Mackem in Malaysia who's been through something very similar.

    What a great example you have set for us all.

  • Comment number 48.

    A truly moving story. Wonderfully written and puts into perspective what goes on in the Premier League (Adebayor etc.) This is why I am a supporter of Brighton and Hove Albion and the Football League as a whole. We are all united. Stockport County and Carl Baker have my and many other football fans respect. To do what you have is superb, and I for one now have a place in my heart for Stockport County Football Club. Despite administration, and losing a very good group of players, mostly to us, you have gone to show what a great football club you are. You should be proud of yourselves. Well Done Carl. RIP Michael.

  • Comment number 49.

    As a Morecambe fan I would just like to say what a nice guy Carl is and how nice a man Mike was. Carl gave everything to our club and Mike was also very supportive, so to hear about his death is a sad loss.

    All Morecambe FC fans thoughts are with the Baker family.

    Keep up your great start to the season Carl!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    I lost my Mum 7 years ago to Lukemia and this story pulled on the old heart strings a little for me definately in the right way, What a great story of character,heart and bravery. This story should be shown to the multi-million pound brats that currently grace many of the top leagues (im a Man City fan so i know)

    Just wanted to say well done Stockport and good luck Carl Baker a great role model and glad to see he is doing well.

  • Comment number 51.

    I was at the ground and he looks like a top quality footballer who I expect to see picked up by a championship side.

    Of course it was never a penalty (thier other striker dived) but that is neither here or there the fact of the matter is he showed great character to even come to this game, here is hoping he has a good season and has more moments to put a smile back on his and his family's faces/

    mg

  • Comment number 52.

    WE ALL NEED TO STOP NOW AND AGAIN TO REALISE HOW LUCKY WE ARE AND TO KNOW THAT GOOD PEOPLE OF THIS WORLD REALLY DO EXIST WHAT AN INSPIRING STORY ALL THE BEST TO ALL INVOLVED

  • Comment number 53.

    I lived in Stockport all my life, and although deciding to support Liverpool from a young age, Stockport County have always held a special place in my heart. I remember asd a boy the club would come into our school and coach us, give us free tickets to games for us and our families and encourage us to support our local 'friendly' football club - Stockport County. The tribute to Carl Baker is very much in keeping with the Stockport I know and love - its a football club that has the spirit to survive.

  • Comment number 54.

    Even as a Yeovil Town fan you have to admire him. He showed great courage and was one of the best players on the pitch. I was at the game and it was never a penalty(definetely a dive). However, that doesn't matter at all because he showed all of the corage in the world to step up and take the penalty. His second goal was also a great finish. I would like to offer him and the rest of Stockport County all the best for the rest of the season.

  • Comment number 55.

    After being a stand out player at Morecambe FC for a year, I'm not surprised Carl baker is banging in the goals for Stockport. My heart goes out to him.

  • Comment number 56.

    Carl Baker epitomises what English Football is about and to remember his brother in such a poignant and tangible way shows that there is still plenty of heart in this great game. I wish him and Stockport County a successful season. He may yet end up in the premiership and if he does perhaps the over paid and egocentric stars may learn some lessons from him.

  • Comment number 57.

    very moving story

    There is just one bit of the blog that's a little puzzling......why was it up to the Stockport Manager to break the news to Craig Baker that his brother had died? I would be extremely distressed if the manager new of my brothers' death before I did.

    I hope that bit in the blog is a mistake......

  • Comment number 58.

    oops sorry got Carl's name wrong

    my apologies

  • Comment number 59.

    This story is deeply sad and the player and club deserve great credit with how they have dealt with the situation.

    But I dont understand why its being used as an opportunity for people to slag off the Premiership. When sad things have happened to players and people involved who have been associated with that league, they have also been treated with just as much class.

    The outpouring of emotion was there for Bobby Robson's death and Kevin Fahey, whose dad died prior to the Birmingham Derby yesterday, but still pulled on his clubs shirt the same way Chris Baker has.

  • Comment number 60.

    Hello,

    Many thanks for all the comments about the blog - and I'd again like to extend my best wishes to Carl and his family.

    The story seems to have sparked some kind of debate regarding the difference between lower league and Premier League football.

    I did not write this piece to have a dig at rich clubs (there are lots of other ways to do that), more to highlight Carl's courage and the efforts made by Stockport.

    Some of you have quite rightly pointed out that several Premier League players have shown great courage in turning out so soon after tragic events have happened in their family. How a player reacts to the death of a loved one is not defined by the division they play in.

    What I would ask is this - would it be possible for supporters of a large club to express so directly their sympathy if the same thing happened to a player at, say, a top four club? I think the supporter-player bond is tighter the lower down the leagues you go. I'm not saying this is the fault of bigger clubs, just the way it goes when you have 50,000 turning up every week.

    By the way, if you want to see Carl's goals on Saturday click on this link:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_div_2/8253694.stm

    ps - leahcar2009, I don't think that is a mistake - I'm going to try to find out why.

  • Comment number 61.

    Bakes is a credit to Stockport County. A True proffesional and a good man. I can't begin to imagine what he and his family are going through, and i hope he knows he has an even bigger family for support - the whole of Stockport County AFC

    I'm glad we're doing what we can for lukemia research as well.

  • Comment number 62.

    Excellent blog

    This is what sport is all about passion. As soon as money is involved in anything it quickly gets corrupted. Great to hear about the fans signing a card for Carl. I hope the BBC gives this story more coverage.

    I recommend to everyone to apply to be on the bone marrow registry. It only takes a small amount of your time. On the rare chance that you match someone you can give them a gift greater than anything, time.

  • Comment number 63.

    Paul,

    I believe Gary Ablett had to inform Carl as it happened during training. No other reason

  • Comment number 64.

    What a brilliant story. Well done Stockport. I really hope this gets noticed by the BBC and shown on Match of the Day or Football Focus so it gets to a wider audience. Genuinely heart-warming.

  • Comment number 65.

    This story has just been brought to my attention thanks to a friend of mine - this goes to show the sometimes selfish & money obssessed culture of the premiership how to show a brave example of player support - what this man has gone through & his ordeal is heartbreaking - but also such an inspiration to millions who truely love & support football for all the right reasons like sportsmanship & true players whom earn a legend status.
    Although Stockport County may bot be a club which is in the Premiership - this story warrants them a place at the top of any league for me - I hope that the clubs above county learn a valuable lesson about the value of life & just how precious it can be & how cruelly it can be taken away in just a mere moment.

  • Comment number 66.

    As a Stockport County fan, I can even express into words how proud this article makes me feel. We've had a very tough year, administration and the loss of a great manager who everyone at the club loved and everyone else seems to assume that we're straight back down to league 2 next season. However, even with our limited resources, everyone seems to be putting 100% into the club. Carl Baker has recently established himself as Stockport County's glimmer of hope (how satisfying it is to know that a struggling County player is currently top scorer in the country). Carl Baker is an inspiration to everyone, the fact he could keep such a cool head and yet make such a fitting tribute to his brother shows his class. Upmost respect and condolences to Carl and his family. I can only hope we don't lose him in January because it is an honour to have him at our club.

  • Comment number 67.

    As a County Fan, I would like to thank all the comments in support of our Carl Baker and our club. We are experiencing hard times on and off the pitch, fans, staff and players but we are there for each other.

  • Comment number 68.

    Brilliant. Just a pity there arent more 'human' instances in the game any more.

  • Comment number 69.

    Puts into perspective how football can bring everyone together. Well done Stockport, as a Mansfield Town fan its great to see a lower league making the headlines for all the right reasons, depsite tragic circumstances. Premier league take a look and stop being so pathetic. R.I.P Mike Baker and support goes out to Carl and his family.

  • Comment number 70.

    I can just see the Kop doing that for John Terry..........well actually maybe Micheal Owen.......it's a different world

  • Comment number 71.

    Wonderful blog and truly inspiring. Well done to Carl Baker and Stockport County. Good luck on the season. I'll be pulling for you lads here in the USA.

  • Comment number 72.

    Very moving piece. Deserves to be read all around the world.

  • Comment number 73.

    To Paul & AndyCountyfan

    I just find it very strange and disconcerting that your manager would have to break the news to you about the death of a loved one - even if it did happen during training, it's still odd to have your manager tell you and not your mother....maybe it's me.....

  • Comment number 74.

    Very moving story that restores some faith in football for me and proves that there is some reality outside the inane world of SkySports, the EPL and the immoral amounts of money bandied about by the few at the top of the heap. Good Luck and to the lad and his family and God Bless them.

  • Comment number 75.

    Great blog!The game we love so much isnt dead after all!

  • Comment number 76.

    What a truly heart warming story, with all the stuff going on about people diving and stamping this really does go to show that football does have a caring side, well done to all at Stockport, players, manager and fans alike. And well done to you for writing such a moving story.

  • Comment number 77.

    As Huddersfield fan i was moved by this really heart warming blog. A great tribute to Carl and his brother.
    Well done County fans and staff, the card was a lovely guesture.
    Condolences to Carl and his family.

  • Comment number 78.

    This is without a shadow of a doubt the best and most poignant blog I have ever read, also very refreshing to read other members insightful and thoughtful comments. Respect to all concerned.

    It truly does remind one of why you fell in love with football. It really is amazing in this day and age of recession and credit crunch's that a club such as Stockport in times of administration can be doing so much for such magnificent causes. I echo the sentiments of the poster who stated "it would be an honour to write a cheque to clear their debts"

    I for one will be keeping an eye out for Stockports results this season and wish them all the success in the world for the coming season.

    To the Baker family sincere condolences and may your bravery and humility see you through these very trying times.

    God bless

  • Comment number 79.

    Not many 'jobs' would anyone return to 'work' so soon after such a tragedy....

    Carl Baker had done himself, Stockport County, Football, and most importantly His Brother proud.

    I am myself proud to be able to call him....One of our own..



    ANIMO ET FIDE #12

  • Comment number 80.

    Well said blog, good luck to Stockport and best wishes to Carl & and his family ( I hope that a copy of these posts are given to them). Its heartwarming to see that despite the money being thrown at football and the "Business" its become (and needed to in certain ways) there are still clubs that value the individual (players and supporers) and a very loyal fan base supporting the teams through thick and thin.

  • Comment number 81.

    Stockport County, a small club with a huge heart who are an absolute credit to football.

    It cannot have been easy for Carl to turn out against Yeovil, but the support he received from the travelling County fans must have helped him immensely.

    Well done to everyone connected with the Hatters and a big thank you to Paul Fletcher for his excellent blog.

  • Comment number 82.

    I don't mean to be crass, but is there any video of this. It could serve as a lesson about values, teamwork, sport, life, to certain people perhaps.

  • Comment number 83.

    best blog ever! and post no. 60 - couldn't agree more!

  • Comment number 84.

    Carl Baker really is a credit to the club, the way Stockport went about it was first class and full credit to Gary Ablett for organising the card and all that. It must have been horrible for him to do that. The spirit shown by Carl and his family is phenominal. Everyone in the Stockport area should turn up for the game on Saturday, if not to support Stockport, to support Carl Baker, the recpetion he will get will be incredible. All these premier league fans who are commenting on this, anyone who is in the area should make the effort to go to edgeley park and help him out. The BBC should make this the main story, show the world Carls courage.

    Here's to you Carl Baker...

    ***RIP Michael Baker***

  • Comment number 85.

    As a Southport fan, I can remember the first time I saw Carl play for us away at Worksop town, and I remember saying to my wife that day that he looked like a useful player. We were lucky to have Carl at Southport for 4 years before he got the move to Morecambe. A mark of the man is that he came to watch a Southport game only a couple of weeks ago, on Bank Holiday Monday. A mark of his brother Mike, and how he was a real football man, is that he continued to visit the Southport fans' internet forum long after Carl had left, and posted on there very recently. Thinking of Carl and his family, and wishing them some comfort in this very sad time.

  • Comment number 86.

    Wonderful blog - thanks for bringing this moving story to our attention, Paul!

    Years ago, as a youngun, I used to watch all manner of football (both live & televised). Sadly, the only matches I watch now are those featuring my team (Manchester United) or my country (England). Now & again I'll watch an FA Cup game featuring a lower league club, hoping for an upset, and of course any summer tourney that might be on (across all age levels).

    The main reason for my increasing disinterest, I reckon, is the over-hyping of the modern game and the antics of those paid to play it (& sometimes manage it, too). For an example close to home: as much as I loved Ronaldo for his skill and determination, his unsportsmanlike behaviour used to really get my goat. There are a stack of others in the top leagues of the world who suffer from the same disease, annoyingly.

    However, an honest pro, late to the game, has just shown them the way forward. Karl Baker's brave appearance and subsequent man-of-the-match performance made for such wonderful reading. Bless you, Karl and bless Michael's memory & your bereaved family (thinking of your younger bro, too).

    Here's also wishing Stockport County, near neighbours of my club, a safe future and one that allows them to continue their great work in the community & beyond.


    Peace

  • Comment number 87.

    I have to givee great credit to the county fans. To care about our player and to all sign a card for him just shows how much they love the players and love the club. Baker has great courage to go out there. To the Baker family sincere condolences and I hope Carl's other brother can get better

    RIP MIchael Baker

  • Comment number 88.

    Many thanks, Paul, for this magnificent story.

    Sad that it occurred in such tragic circumstances.

    Grateful though that this act of human kindness has not been missed.

  • Comment number 89.

    Top blog, really nicely put. Such a shame that the wrong football headlines make the news now and that stories of kindness fail to make the papers.

  • Comment number 90.

    What a fantastic, heartfelt article, Stockport fans, Gary Abblet and Carl Baker represent what football should be about.
    RIP Mike Baker.

  • Comment number 91.

    Great article and a lovely gesture from the Yeovil fans. Carl Baker sounds like a very good player too!

  • Comment number 92.

    Paul, many thanks for bringing this very sad but uplifting story to our attention. Similar stories, I'm sure, occur everyday in life but it is the response of Stockport County Football Club and its fans that is really heartwarming.

    It reminds me of the reaction of the Forest and Millwall fans when Colin Cooper (then back at Boro) tragically lost his wee boy.

    Best wishes to Carl and his family and to SCFC.

  • Comment number 93.

    Stockport are a great club, I remember when they were relegated at Selhurst Park several years ago now, and the away fans started a 100+ person conga and just decided they'd enjoy the day out rather than wallow in self pity. It's very difficult to hear about young people 'moving on' of course, I hope Carl's brother, Carl himself & all at Stockport remain in good health.

  • Comment number 94.

    I live near Edgeley Park but support Carlisle, and when I went to watch Carlisle play Stockport I was quite impressed with their fans keeping up the noise throughout the game, and the players never appearing to give up, despite losing, and decided I'll have to go along to give them a cheer when there's a Carlisle game I can't make. This story has given me another reason to respect them - they seem to be demonstrating the right attitude all over.

  • Comment number 95.

    Excellent Blog. Being a Stockport fan of many years I have known the up's and down's of the club. But also the passion many players who have worn the shirt for us, and the reciprocation the fans give to the players as a result. Carl is no exception. When us, the fans, found out about Carl's family situation, we were wholeheartedly behind him, in his efforts to raise the awarness for Lukemia.

    In this day and age of the Celebrity footballer in the top flight, and the huge amounts of money paid for and to them,yet their antics on the field that have many people squimring in horror and disbelief, Carl comes across as a breath of fresh air.

    Carl, we congratulate you for your efforts, and yet, commiserate with you for your loss. You are an example to all that is good in the game.

  • Comment number 96.

    An incredible story, I echo all of the above comments about it gaining the recognition it deserves and call on anyone else touched by this to comment as maybe this will help this to happen.

    All the best to Carl, his family, and anyone else going through anything similarly devastating.

  • Comment number 97.

    What a class act the Yeovil fans were with that gesture. Great credit must also go to the Yeovil backroom staff and Gary Ablett, they all must have been in on the card gesture.

    I lost my nephew when he was just 11 but can only imagine the sort of emotion that Carl must have felt. I can honestly say that the whole article brought a tear to my eye.

    It is true that the Premier League and the fans are detached from the lower leagues. The obsession with qualifying for europe and the battle for the top four (which could become the top six this year), as well as the tendency for once-solid clubs like Leeds and Southampton to spend beyond their means is perhaps the saddest thing about the last decade of football.

    Of course I enjoy the quality that the top players offer and thoroughly enjoy watching La Liga and international football. However, as (admittedly, a part time) Wigan supporter, I often look round a half empty JJB (sorry DW) stadium and long for the days of Springfield Park. I still remember when Peter Beardsley came on as sub for Fulham and was in a totally different class.

    That emotional attachment that the majority of the crowd have seems missing in all but the die hard derbies in the top leagues.

    Credit again to all concerned and I hope Carl reads these lovely messages. Good luck for the future to all of the Baker family and credit again to Stockport, Yeovil and the beautiful game itself.

  • Comment number 98.

    Brought a tear to my eye. An amazing tribute from the Stockport fans, it is almost as if a player for stockport passed away. Mainly the Stockport fans hugging and weeping with Carl, its a amazing show of football apart of from millions being spent its beautiful moment of football.

  • Comment number 99.

    As a lifelong County fan, it has been devastatting to see some of the recent hardships our club has had to endure, its heart having been ripped out and left to die by some frankly unscrupulous businessmen. As any County fan will know, this summer was among the hardest imaginable for all concerned, not knowing whether we would even have a side to follow this year. This story, while unbelievably sad and hard on a truly wonderfully gifted individual - and by all accounts fantastic man - perhaps serves to highlight the amazing club and amazing fans at Edgeley Park. The club retired the number 12 shirt after our miraculous survival in 2006 in honour of the fans who stuck with the cause through absolute thick and thin and this story once again draws some deserved limelight on undoubtedly the most loyal supporters in the world. We have weathered some of the harshest storms imaginable and will continue to do so, in support of our town and our heroes, like Carl Baker, who do us proud every week.

    The most heartfelt and sincere condolences to Carl and all of the Baker family - I write on behalf of Stockport as a town, a club and a family - we love you.

    RIP Mike - many of us might not have known you but we will always remember you.

    Animo et fide

  • Comment number 100.

    I have in the past couple of years given up on the English game and moved my support to Scottish football and to Rangers to support even if it's from afar down here in Dorset. I now have an English club to follow again, a club in so much financial difficulty and yet one with such caring boardroom staff, management, players and fans. Good on you Stockport for showing the so called top teams and overrated players in this country just what the game needs. I am sick to the eyeballs of the premierships prima-donna players and managers, thank heaven for Stockport and for players like Carl, what courage he has shown, what courage the board of the club are showing by donating so much revenue to such a worthy cause and also what a fantastic group of supporters, real football fans. My best wishes go to the Baker family, I shall be following County in the future and hope that the club will survive and prosper. I am sure they will with such people in their corner.
    God bless all the Baker family and all at SCFC

 

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