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'I feel loyalty to the Crusaders project': Stephen Baxter on forming a winning machine, rejecting offers and tasty rivalries

 

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Stephen Baxter took charge of Crusaders almost 15 years ago and has turned the club from relegation into a trophy-winning machine.

Stephen Baxter took charge of Crusaders almost 15 years ago and has turned the club from relegation into a trophy-winning machine.

�INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

Baxter and then Crusaders manager Roy Walker when they won the title in 1997.

Baxter and then Crusaders manager Roy Walker when they won the title in 1997.

David Jeffrey's Linfield prove tough to stop in Baxter's early managerial days.

David Jeffrey's Linfield prove tough to stop in Baxter's early managerial days.

�INPHO/Presseye

The Crues celebrated winning the 2012 Setanta Cup in style.

The Crues celebrated winning the 2012 Setanta Cup in style.

Baxter's first full season in management ended with a trophy treble; The Carnegie First Division, The Carnegie Cup and the Steele & Sons Cup.

Baxter's first full season in management ended with a trophy treble; The Carnegie First Division, The Carnegie Cup and the Steele & Sons Cup.

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Stephen Baxter took charge of Crusaders almost 15 years ago and has turned the club from relegation into a trophy-winning machine.

Stephen Baxter is the most influential and successful figure in the history of Crusaders Football Club, but that's a label that doesn't sit easy on the broad shoulders of the 55-year-old.

He says: "I don't ever think that way. I never sit back and go, 'Look what I've done' or start counting the gold. I just get on with the job."

Whether he accepts it or not, it's a fact. As an all-action goal hungry striker, who had previously played for Ards, Distillery and won titles at Linfield, Baxter became a two-time League champion at Seaview under the great Roy Walker in 1995 and 1997, entering Crusaders folklore alongside fellow Shore Road icons Glen Dunlop, Glenn Hunter and Kirk Hunter.


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