Stoke Who are You?: the ‘Marvellous’ clown who became a Potteries legend

Click anywhere on this caption to buy Neil’s book from the Salut! Sunderland Amazon bookshelf

The story of Neil Baldwin* is an astonishing and uplifting one. Born to devoted Stoke City supporters, Neil had learning difficulties and needed speech therapy. He has made light of this, and his lack of formal academic qualifications, to work tirelessly as a lay preacher, circus clown and for many years the Potters’ kit man. He has his own football team, Neil Baldwin FC, with players drawn from the student body of Keele University, of which he is an honorary graduate having given 50 years of voluntary service in welcoming new undergraduates. Football celebrities, notably Lou Macari but also including Kevin Keegan and Gary Lineker, have acclaimed or befriended him or both.

When Macari, then managing Stoke, made him the kit man, he said it was the best signing he had ever made, such was the positive effect of his humour on the squad. He played five minutes a sub in a testimonial for Gordon Cowans in 1993 and, most famously, inspired the film Marvellous, based on his life.

‘It says everything for Neil that Marvellous was ever made,’ wrote the Stoke Sentinel TV critic, John Woodhouse. ‘In times when TV is seduced by vacuity and celebrity, it doesn’t sound that promising a pitch. A drama, set in Newcastle [under-Lyme], about a man saddled with the tag of “learning difficulties” who reveals himself to be so much more? Good luck with that one. And yet here it is – primetime BBC2.’

The autobiography, Marvellous: Neil Baldwin – My Story, written with the help of Keele University alumni Malcolm Clarke (a recent Who are You? interviewee) and Francis Beckett, was published by John Blake in 2015.

Welcome to Salut! Sunderland, Neil …

Read more

SAFC vs Stoke City Guess the Score: one we can (must?) win

Classic Football Shirts told us late about their January sale but it’s on until midnight Tuesday with 20 per cent off everything if you quote the code CFS2017 and visit

Guess the Score … in which the esteemed supporters of Sunderland and Stoke City, both sides acquainted with that most prestigious of colour schemes, red and white stripes, are warmly invited to predict the scoreline that history shall record …

Why is this week’s Guess the Score appearing early again this week? OK, the main reason is that no one has anything else they want to say beyond pointless reflections on transfers that may or may not happen.

Read more

Moyes on the Boyes at Stoke: right to feel SAFC deserved more, or deluded?

Moyes On The Boys

To many of us who, one way or the other, saw the 2-0 defeat at Stoke City, this was a Sunderland display that insulted those occupying another sell-out away end and suggested the record for the lowest number of Premier League points, currently 11 and held by Derby County, will be returning to Wearside. For David Moyes, however, it was a game we ought to have taken a point from. Mmm. Consider his post-match e-mail to Monsieur Salut and a few others ..

Read more

Sixer’s Sevens: Stoke City 2-0 SAFC. Or Sixer’s Three: ‘down by Christmas’

Jake: 'rock bottom'
Jake: ‘rock bottom’

Monsieur Salut writes: I had a good stream and watched a poor Stoke side made to look efficient by as inept a display as I can recall (well at least since the last inept display). Pete Sixsmith had a tougher day, up early to travel to the Potteries and see yet another abysmal performance which, he said as the last seconds of stoppage time ticked away, suggested a team that will be adrift without a hope at the bottom come Christmas …


Read more

Stoke City ‘Who are You?’: SAFC ‘doomed with Swansea and Hull’

Malcolm Clarke: ‘sorry lads, your time has come’

Malcolm Clarke* is the latest in a long line of amiable, forthcoming Stoke City supporters to grace these pages. He is realistic enough a supporter, as well as being a passionate representative of fans generally as chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation, to recognise the the odds are probably against his beloved Stoke winning the Premier League title any time soon. But he does believe they’ll survive this season, and – perhaps no surprise here – that Sunderland won’t. He also tells us about his association with Neil Baldwin, Stoke’s ‘marvellous’ (read on) but most implausible media star …

Read more

Seasonal Adjustment Disorder syndrome. It’s October, so SAFC fans are SAD

Ha'way The Lads with Salut

Around this time of every year, there are certainties we take for granted. The calendar will tell us it is October, trees shed leaves, shops advertise Christmas as if it’s only next week and Sunderland supporters still await a first win of the season.

We generally don’t draw too much comfort for we have actually won twice, because there is something distinctly hollow about beating lower league opposition in the League Cup when you can barely pick up a draw in the Premier League.

Read more