Belfast Telegraph

Baxter's tribute to Mr Crusaders, Jim Semple, after his death at age of 81

Stephen Baxter has led the tributes to Jim Semple, former Crusaders chairman and vice-president who has passed away, aged 81.

Semple, a former Irish League president, made the phone call that led to Baxter's appointment as manager in 2005 and after suffering relegation the former Linfield striker masterminded a stunning revival that included Irish Cup, Setanta Cup and back-to-back league title glory.

"I spoke to Jim's daughter Donna and I must say that Jim was like a second father to me," said the Crues boss.

"I first met him when I joined Crusaders as a 27-year-old player and he was a Crues legend. He is Mr Crusaders to me and I'm thrilled we enjoyed so many special moments together.

"After we won the Irish Cup in 2009 we hugged one another and cried. He was a very humble man with no airs or graces and he always spoke from the heart and was very passionate about our wee club."

Semple bowed out as Crusaders chairman after the Irish Cup final win over Cliftonville in 2009, passing the baton onto Stephen Bell, and he later said: "It was a perfect leaving present for me, especially as I had been chairman for around 20 years and on the club's committee before that."

Baxter added: "We've been on an incredible journey together and there would be no Phoenix rising from the ashes story at Crusaders if it wasn't for Jim."


Belfast Telegraph

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