A rugged follower from Barmera , Jim Baird showed good promise at Norwood under coach Alan Killigrew but his career was cut short by employment duties.
Jim acquired the nickname ‘Bruiser’, in the same way that his Riverland acquaintance Neil Kerley became known as ‘Knuckles’.
In a trial match report before the 1959 season, The Advertiser said: “Baird, even more solid than (Ron) Kneebone, nearly drilled holes in his Norwood team-mates with accurate passes, and could be a real asset to Norwood if developed and trained to fitness. His play was marred by his inability to keep up with the game.”
These words proved prophetic. Living in the Riverland and driving trucks for a living, Jim found it difficult to get to training during the week. Unlike fellow Riverlander Russell Ebert, who was accommodated in his football career by his employer, Jim was unable to acquire the fitness required for league football.
Jim was born in Adelaide on 23 April 1936 and the family moved to Barmera when he was a toddler. He went to Broken Hill looking for work on the mines as a teenager. While there he met Marlene Johns and they were married on 1 September 1956. Jim moved back to Barmera with his bride a year or so later when mine workers not born in Broken Hill were put off. He drove trucks for Fletchers Freighters until he and most of the family returned to Broken Hill in 1966. He worked on the mines until his retirement.
Jim played football for Centrals in Broken Hill. He also coached the local under 18s and the high school team.
Jim died from a ruptured aortic aneurysm at Broken Hill on 31 March 2016, just short of his 80th birthday. His wife followed on 29 September 1917 and son James on 3 May 2019, leaving daughters Karen Kemp, Jan Kurzman and Dianne Locke.
* Picture and family information kindly supplied by Karen Kemp and Jan Kurzman, daughters of Jim Baird.
P. Robins June 2019