Neil Johnston RIP: a great buddy who liked Sunderland, loved Blackpool

Just after posting Robert Simmons’s noble thoughts on Claudio Reyna, with the necessary reminder of Claudio’s recent appalling family tragedy (young son’s death from cancer), Monsieur Salut received dreadful news from Belfast, the death of an old friend. He was also, once, a friend of Salut! Sunderland’s, providing grand answers as a Blackpool fan ahead of the game at Bloomfield Road in Jan 2011. This is a slightly adapted version of what appears at Salut!

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Blackpool ‘Who are You?’: that magical Stanley Matthews final


Time to stop worrying about failing to beat the Mags and losing Darren Bent? The season resumes and there’s a lot of work our players need to do between now and May. Cast your minds back to last May, though. When Blackpool faced Cardiff in the Wembley playoffs, Salut! Sunderland supported the Tangerines, partly for the romance of it and partly because of two men: Jimmy Armfield, for obvious reasons, and an old pal from Belfast, the writer, broadcaster and (see footnote) occasional lyricist Neil Johnston*, who has always supported them. Jimmy did the first Who are You? – a gem: click here to see it. Now Neil, a respected figure in Irish music and deeply involved in the annual Ballyshannon Folk Festival, does the honours before the return game at Bloomfield Road, which his affinity is necessarily a distant emotion …

Salut! Sunderland: Success story of the Premier’s promoted clubs – or a Hull city disaster waiting to happen – can Blackpool keep going without a calamitous collapse in the second half of the season?

I think they can stay up providing they don’t lose key players like Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell. But their tendency to concede late goals is a worry (NB: question posed and answered before any dealings in the transfer market – ed).

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