18 Mar 2022 in News

One of the most important figures in our club’s history has sadly passed away. Dougie Baker dedicated much of his life to Saddleworth Rangers as a player, coach and volunteer over many decades. He’s died at the age of 88 after suffering with dementia in recent years.
As a player his huge frame and power saw him go professional with Huddersfield in the late 1960s. He also played at Salford before he returned to Rangers and turned out for many more years with the likes of Tony Finan, Denis Maders and Jimmy Russell. He later coached a number of players who went on to play first-team rugby including his son Paul. But one of his biggest legacies is the spectator stand at our ground which he built with Pete Moore in the mid 90s.
Paul said; “Rangers was his passion. I turned out for Higgy a couple of times and he didn’t speak to me for a month. For him there was only one team and he was Rangers through and through.”
If you ever met Dougie you’ll know he never took a backward step on the pitch. Tony Finan once dropped an anvil on Dougie’s foot at work, which led to the foot (not the anvil) being in a plaster cast. With a crucial match on the horizon Dougie arranged with the club doctor, Dr Mukherjee, to have it removed on the day of the game which enabled him to play. He continued to play into his 40s.
While the open age enjoyed great success in the early 90s, the juniors had all but disappeared with Dougie coaching the only remaining team. Alongside others including Pete Moore, Frank Walsh and Brian Mellor he joined a new Junior section Committee which helped revive it.
Brian and Dougie were close friends for the rest of his life and they enjoyed watching the first team together in their regular seats at the half way line in the stand.
Brian said; “He respected the players who really wanted it and you could see them trying. He loved those who played above their weight and showed courage. He was a big man with a big heart and he’d do anything for you.”
When spectators watch our matches from the stand they no doubt take it for granted but it wouldn’t exist were it not for the hard work and dedication of a team led by Pete and Dougie. The stand was designed to be used for a golf driving range but Dougie adapted it and built the tea bar.
Legend has it that the club’s iconic late Chairman, Ronnie Hardaker, once rocked up mid-build and asked if there was anything he could do to help. Dougie‘s reply was; “Yes. You can stay out of the bloody way.”
Rangers President, Terry Flanagan, paid tribute to Dougie and said; “He is a true club legend having been a formidable player in his day, revered around the north as a tough, ball playing forward. After playing he contributed to our club’s development firstly by being a driving force with the establishment of our youth section and then massively by being a major team member in the building of the club stand. He was a great chap who always had time for younger players.”
Dougie Baker was the kind of man you’d want on your side in any situation and luckily for Saddleworth Rangers he dedicated a lot of his life to its cause. He was warrior and a gentleman who’ll be sadly missed by all who knew him and remembered fondly for a long time to come.


Older Newer