Crusaders Boss Baxter Now World Football’s Longest Serving Manager
BoyleSports, principal partner of Crusaders, have honored manager Stephen Baxter for his record stint managing the Belfast side.
Baxter is now the longest serving manager still in his job in world football having served nearly 18 and-a-half years in the Seaview dugout, recently surpassing Brian Clough’s stay at Nottingham Forest in which he bagged two European Cup trophies.
Crusaders, who are currently celebrating a milestone of their own in their 125th anniversary year, face 26-time Norwegian champions Rosenborg at home in the Europa Conference League on Thursday.
Ahead of the match, former world champion boxer and Crusaders fan Carl Frampton journeyed to Seaview to present Baxter with a special recognition award on behalf of incoming new sponsors BoyleSports. Check out the conversation between Carl Frampton and Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter in the video below.
Baxter Reflects On His Ongoing Record
“A lot of people have caught onto this and I’ve been saying, please don’t talk about it because it makes you feel very old!
“I had no intention of going into football management, but I got a phonecall out of the blue from Jim Semple (former Chairman). There were nine games to go and we were doomed to relegation, but we managed to scrape three wins and gave it a good rattle. We lost the play-off, but in hindsight it was probably the best thing to happen to the football club.
“It gave us time to regroup and the next season we won three trophies and only lost two games all year. We set a winning mentality from the get-go and a winning team brought the crowds back, even though we were in the Championship. I always say they were the stepping stones that brought success further up the road.”
“The team have been superb over a long period of time and we’re still competing right at the top end of the game, three Irish Cup wins in the last five years has been phenomenal for us. So you don’t really see this other stuff unfolding. You’re so locked into training and the fight that’s in front of you, you don’t think about what you’ve achieved.
“So when people come to me and say ‘you’ve just done 500 games, you’ve just done 800 games,’ I’m going “really?!” Then you start reflecting on what league titles were like to win, how it was getting over the line against Coleraine that year, what it was like in the Setanta Cup, and all of a sudden you just go…”wow.”
Praise for Baxter
Former two-weight world champion boxer, Carl Frampton, praised Baxter on handing over the award:
“I’ve been coming to Seaview since I was a kid when Stephen Baxter was a player. He’s done a lot for this club as a player and a manager. He’s won league titles, Irish Cups, he won the Setanta Cup which was an All-Ireland competition. The club owe a lot to Stephen Baxter, as a person and as a manager he’s been fantastic for the club. To be the longest current serving manager in world football – that’s an amazing achievement in itself.”
Crusaders fan Brian Hodginson, who was at Seaview as Baxter received his award, said:
“We weren’t in a good way when he came in, but he’s been fantastic for us ever since,”
While former player David Rainey added:
“As a man manager he’s brilliant and the trophies he’s delivered for this club – it speaks for itself.”
Chairman Ronnie Millar summed up the celebratory mood saying:
“He manages his players impeccably – they all want to play for him,”
While Jonny Tuffey, who manages Women’s Premiership side Crusaders strikers, also had glowing praise for his counterpart:
“The gaffer is an absolute legend in the game here and what he’s achieved is phenomenal. It’s testament to him and also to the club for sticking by him.”
Sharon McHugh, spokesperson for BoyleSports said:
“We are absolutely thrilled to present Stephen Baxter with this award for his long and successful and continued service at Crues. It’s very clear to us how much this club means to the fans and Stephen is a huge part of their success story. We thought recognising him in this landmark year was only fitting.”
Baxter has steered to Crusaders to Irish Cup glory in the past two seasons and his glittering CV also includes three Irish League titles as Crues manager and two as a player.
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