Charachters of the vic!
Feature by Gareth Cooper
Updated Wednesday, 6th March 2002
All the characters from the victoria ground who perhaps deserve a mention as the most popular of the bunch of supporters for one reason of another.
"..Characters... Everywhere seems to have them.. You walk in to a country pub
and you find an old man sitting in the corner who is known as the "Pub Character",
sit down next to him and he'll tell you stories you never thought possible.. Same
goes for a village, walk down a street and see a chatty old women who everyone
calls a "Character", she is the village gossip and can be seen everyday, nattering
away as she goes to the post office to pick up her pension, stopping to natter with
everyone she meets along the way.."
"..What am I talking about? you ask?.. Well basically what I am trying to say is that
all places need these "Special Characters" they are often larger than life and are as
bigger part as the places they haunt as the place itself. They are special people,
who go to add an extra spark and a heartbeat when they are around, they are the
type of people you remember because they are so outstanding as individuals and
they always seem to make an impression where ever they go.. What this section is
basically about is some of the "Characters" that were found at the Victoria Ground
over the years, people who made you laugh, made you cry, people who you just
loved talking to.. some have moved with us to the Britannia Stadium, some haven't
been seen since the final game against West Brom and sadly some of them are no
longer with us.. but wherever they are now one thing will always be certain.. You
will never forget about them! Here are a few that you used to find at the Victoria
ground over the years..."
Mike Potts was secretary at the Victoria Ground when I first
started to go and watch Stoke, he was secretary at the Victoria
Ground before I was born! He was Secretary at the Victoria
Ground for as long as I can possibly remember!!. I only actually
met Mike once, very briefly when I was a Kid when I first started
going to watch Stoke, this meeting occured inside the old club
shop at the Vic but I was young and can't really claim to of had a
conversation with him, but what struck me about Mike was that no
one ever had a bad word to say about him and he had so much
respect from so many other Football League secreteries
throughout the country. Mike always came across as everyone's
friend at the club and had the respect of people right from top to bottom who were connected
with Stoke City. He was also very good at his job and as I heard people say many times "Had
a magical touch with the supporters of Stoke City", this is something that just hasn't been the
case at Stoke City in the last few years, this because of the sad, untimely death of Mike
Potts a few years back. Since his passing many have said the club have missed the magic
and personality that he bought to the club . Its difficult for me to write a passage on Mike, as
I said I didn't really know him at all, but so many people connected with Stoke City and
football have said what a great all round person he was, and so many people can not be
wrong!.. We miss you Mike!... R.I.P..
"..NEIL "NELLO" BALDWIN.."
Neil Baldwin was Stoke City kit man for many years and
was bought to the club by Lou Macari.. At a meet the
manager evening in the "Stanley Matthews suite " in
1995 Lou even went as far as to describe Nello as his
greatest ever signing.. The Story goes like this.. Lou
Macari walked out of the Vic one day and saw Neil alone
in the street, he went up to the lonely Nello and asked
what he was doing, Nello replied "I'm a clown in the
circus.." This was good enough for Lou and he quickly
appointed Nello as kit manager, a post that he held till
Stoke moved to the Britannia Stadium.. Nello had cult
status at Stoke City amongst the supporters. When the
club shop bought out and sold those Flesh coloured
swimming caps in honour of other Cult hero slap head
Kevin "Rooster" Russell, they should of also bought out
strap on beer guts complete with a pair of thick rimmed
specticles in honour of Nello, they would of made a
fortune! ...Lou Macari maybe seen as the man who got Stoke promoted, won the Autoglass
trophy and beat Manchester United, but even Lou admits, "Nello was the brains behind the
operation!" , Nello must of been great for Morale in the dressing room and there have been
so many amusing stories that you heard round the ground involving Nello.. For instance in the
1992/3 We are the Champions video it is worth buying it just for the scene where Neil is
dressed up as a great fat Scotsman and walks on screen during a Lou Macari interview in the
background, Lou can't keep a straight face and eventually the scene ends as everyone
breaks down in hysterics... Another story told my Lou was at an away game against
Traanmere one time when during the start of the second half Lou made Nello return to the
dressing room and some how squeeze his huge arse in to striker Martin Carruthers' new,
expensive silk boxer shorts, Nello did this and sat in the dug out for the second half in
Martin's pants as a joke, only for Carruthers to pop up with a late winner and return to the
dressing room to see Nello squeezed into the striker's beloved boxers, I'd give anything to
see the look on Martin's face on that afternoon. Neil also went on a sponsored diet once and
at one game I was lucky enough to be stood next to the dug out in the Boothen Paddock for
an Anglo Italian Cup game where one cruel individual with a huge bag of fish and chips kept
leaning in to the dug out to offer Nello a chip, each time Nello refused, not wanting to break
his diet, but the guy with the chips wouldn't stop and kept cruelly baiting Nello with big greasy
chips. You could see the drool forming around Neil's mouth and this torture was getting to
much for him, but eventually after a whole 90 minutes of "Greasy Chip torture" Nello finally
escaped with Lou to the dressing room, his diet still in tact.... Then there was the time he
came on as a striker at Villa Park in Gordon Cownans' Testimonial game and almost scored,
the site of Nello roaming the Villa penalty area like a wolf is one to be remembered... From
what I here today Nello is now involved in some sort of work at Keele University and he was
given a special presentation at the Britannia Stadium a few seasons back in honour for all his
hard work at Stoke... Neil Baldwin, a true hero, and a legend to boot..
"..SIR STANLEY MATTHEWS.."
Sir Stanley Matthews , what can you say? .. despite already having a section dedicated to him
on this site he again deserves to pop up again in this section.. Stan was indeed a character
behind the scenes of his beloved Stoke City and would often travel down from his home in
Penkull to take his seat in the directors Box.. Sir Stan loved the Victoria Ground with all his
heart and it saddened him to have to leave it behind with the
move to the Britannia Stadium.
With his love for pink ties and baseball caps Sir Stan could
often be seen around the Victoria Ground, as I wrote in the
"Oh Stanley" section he was always willing to stop and talk to
people, he would even invite them around his house for a drink
of tea and a quick snack.
There are so many Stories that can be told about Stan, mine is
found on this site whilst other such tales of the great man can
be found in their hundreds all over the internet, particularly on
Stoke City and Blackpool Football Club sites.. Type the name
Sir Stan in to an Internet search Engine and you are bound to
come across an almost never ending list of heart warming accounts from all over the world
about the Wizard of dribble.
Stan officially opened the Britannia Stadium in 1997 and the road leading up to the ground is
also known as "Stanley Matthews Way" (The Sir Stan bit was dropped on the request of
Stan himself, he never really liked people calling him Sir, he was happy with just plain old
"Stan").. We all miss you Stan, you were indeed a Character, a Gentleman and a legend...
thank you for all the memories!..
".. GUS, THE LOTTERY TICKET SELLER.."
You may of never of heard about Gus the Lottery ticket seller, he was literally a part of the
Butler Street Stand and seemed to be there forever. My father once said he went in the
Butler Street stand in the 70's and saw Gus, then after he moved to the Boothen End and only
returned to the Butler Street 14 years later and the first thing he saw when he climbed the
steps was Gus!, still there, a little older but still selling his lottery tickets and shouting his
catchphrase... Gus also plays a special role in to my introduction to Stoke City.. During my
first ever game I made my way through the Butler Street turnstiles, climbed the steps on the
way to my be confronted by this huge Gorilla of a black man selling his lottery tickets and
shouting out a phrase that I could barely understand in a strong Carabeean accent...The last
time I saw Big Gus was at the West Bromich Albion game and I was determined to have my
picture taken with him as a memento, regrettably and most unfortunately I couldn't have it
done.. as Gus was being mobbed by people vying for lottery tickets.. I didn't see him again
I went many years, not hearing anything about Gus at all, I looked out for him at the Brit at
half time, listening out for his familiar catchphrase but I could never see him. Then a few
months back a thread appeared on the Oatcake Internet message board about Big Gus.. No
one could officially confirm it but it does seem that Big Gus may of passed away.. The thread
is found below, the words are from various contributors from the Oatcake message board... If
it is true about his death then this is an awful shame, I think you will find in the below
messages how much he meant to people who knew him, he was a true, Gentle Giant..,
I can probably shed some light on Big Gus. Gus Burke used to sell lottery tickets for over
fifteen years for Meir Heath Cricket Club, my former club when I lived in Stoke. He was
amazing at it and singlehandedly sold more tickets then all the other club members put
together. Gus would bike or walk from Fenton to The Windmill on Sunday nights to turn in
his tickets, sell a few more, watch the draw being made and drink a couple of "double
brany's". He lived in Fenton near The Foley and worked on a potbank in Longton.
Gus was something of a legend at the club and always great fun. He had played a few games
of cricket in his younger years, but now concentrated on raising funds for the club. He had
the patter down for selling tickets, you could repeat him word for word, it never changed...
"This time coming around, You havin' a go ? Five for one, Ten for two, this time comin'
around"... To get the full effect you need to say it in a strong Caribbean accent !! Then he
would stand over you till you bought one. It never failed.
I saw in an earlier post that he may have passed away, that wouldnt surprise me as he was
older than he looked, but I really hope not, as he was a wonderful guy and a truly gentle
If he has I bet he's "comin' around" for the St.Peter's Harp and Cloud Lottery Fund .....
"Five for one, Ten for two "
I used get "mugged" by Gus every Sunday when I was (cooting) courting my lady and we
used to go to the swynnerton arms for a meal, he was brilliant at it he used to come over and
say to my lady " this nice man your with is gonna buy a winning ticket" what else can you
do but fork out, He sold tote for Foley Arms FC at that time .
fantastic character, a true gent
I heard awhile ago that he had passed on.
If I'm wrong I appologise, smashing bloke and great fun to be with. What he was saying was
"25p going round".
"..Teeeeeeeeyyyy jaaaaaaayyy!!!" the cry used to echo around
the crowd wherever in the country Stoke would be playing..
Then, from out of a sea of red and white one man would emerge
and climb whatever structure he could find, whether it be flood
lights, crush barriers, whatever... Then with one shhh the whole
crowd would fall still.. TJ had something to say to them... "At
break of day when that man drove away I was waiting..." he
screamed... Whhooorrrrrrrrrrrhhh!!!" the sea of red and white
replied spontaneously.. "I crossed the street to her house and
she opened the door.." TJ belowed again.. and then, with a
futher roar from the sea of red and white another Delilah had
been spawned to ring around the ground in its full glory..
This man can get a hell of a song going and still does today at
the Britannia Stadium and other grounds that Stoke visit around the country.. When I used to
sit in the Butler Street I always knew that when the crowd went quiet I could bet my life that
when I turned round and looked on the crash barrier between post B and C that I would see
TJ, standing on top of it facing the Boothen End, preparing them all for a deafening lullaby of
Delilah.. You can still see him today, in the North Stand, a regular heartbeat in the crowd...
"..THE INCREDIBLE CHAIN SMOKING BOOTHEN STANDER.."
I have absolutely no idea who this old bloke is but when ever I used to sit in the upper
section of the Boothen Stand closest to the Boothen End I always seemed to end up sitting
next to him.. I spoke to some one in a pub in Newcastle a couple of months back and they
also mentioned that they had also seen him... Basically what he used to do was sit on the front
row of the Boothen Stand and use the ledge to continually roll his Cigarettes on, whilst he
would be smoking one he would reach in to his pocket, pull out his tin and proceed to roll up
another one!.. Unfortunately if you were sitting next to him like I did once and the wind is
blowing the wrong way you would of got 90 consecutive minutes of continual smoke in your
face, but gradually your irritation would be overcome by the amazement of how this bloke
managed to smoke consecutively without a break, whether it was to call his nerves I don't
know but it was incredible. I have absolutely no idea where he is now, but with the amount of
tobacco he used to inhale in to his lungs I hope he'll still be alive next season to watch Stoke
win the 2000/2001 2nd division Championship...
Anyone connected with Stoke City Football Club will know who Smudge is.. He began to
write the Stoke City Fanzine "The Oatcake" as long ago as the 19th of November 1988 and
since then has gone on to produce 245 issues (as it stands at the end of the 1999/2000
season.) From it's early beginning of a photocopied fanzine the
Oatcake has evolved over time and is now an excellent publication
of magazine quality. I have spoken to many people around the
country regards Football magazines and fanzines and each and
every time the Oatcake comes up they always seem to not only
praise the for the high standard of quality but also for the dedication
of the editors Dave Firth and Martin Smith who work tirelessly to
get a fanzine ready for each home game (some fanazines at other
clubs only come out on a monthly basis, others only bring out 4 a
season!). ... I myself have always been fascinated by fanzines and
desk top publishing since I was very young and have always
followed that intrest throughout School and Collage. Fanzines can
come in many forms, some act as a news letter for fans of a certain
subject, some are big, some are small, some are weekly whilst
others are monthly and some are very tongue in cheek and light hearted. It may seem like
I'm sucking up but in "The Oatcake" Smudge has managed to pull off the perfect blend of
gossip, debate and humor and the formula of having an issue out at every home game works
perfectly, after 12 years of "The Oatcake" I don't think anyone could bare not snapping one
up on a match day.. for me it is certainly and addiction.
Along with the weekly fanzine Smudge has also gone on to produce 210 page Paper Back
book to celebrate 200 issues of "The Oatcake".. The book, ingeniously titled "With
Chayze?" pulls together the best bits from the fanzine as well as detailed explanations on its
history, its Writers and its beliefs.. An excellent quality publication that makes some great
reading and brings back allot of memories... but wait.. there's more...
As well as producing "The Oatcake" on a week to week basis and fresh off the back of the
success of "With Chayze" Smudge also runs "The Oatcake" web page, this, along with
Stoke City Raw (run by Adam Greasley) are by far the two most detailed and informative
Stoke City pages on the Internet. Smudge has also made various appearances in the local
paper as well as many guest appearances on Radio Stoke discussing any Stoke City related
The last 12 years have been hell for Stoke City supporters with all sorts of board room
abuse, tripe on the football pitch and countless other problems... Throughout this period
though Martin Smith has been at the fore of all to do with Stoke City. By being brave enough
to take the plunge and go full time with "The Oatcake" he has given supporters a voice and
managed to united Stoke City supporters even closer together than ever before... The
amount of work that he and his colleges at "The Oatcake" have put in over the years has
been overwhelming, he has stood up for what he believed in and not budged an inch and this
in turn has given Stoke City supporters the much needed voice and body that in today's
footballing world we would be lost without.. Well done Smudge, a truly committed supporter
and genuine hard grafter...
I really wouldn't like to be up against Monica Hartland in a debate and I for one am very
glad she is a Stoke City supporter!.. Over the years Monica, along with Martin Smith have
been crucial voice figures for Stoke City football club, arguing the case and keeping Stoke
City football club the way Stoke City Football club is wanted by the fans. Her constant
pressure and quick wit in debating with such people as Jez Moxey, Peter Coates and Keith
Humpreys in the past have been crucial in not letting Stoke City get in any greater mess than
they were already in. As well as Stoke City Monica has also followed the England national
team through out the world and has been one of many Stoke City supporters to do so, She is
also crucial to the running of Stoke City Southern Supporters Club and can often be seen
around the ground at Stoke City games... Her summing up of former Stoke Cheif Executive
Jez Moxey in a letter to "The Oatcake" at the end of last season hit the nail right on the
head about Jez's much maligned time at Stoke... well said Monica!..
..If you are a Stoke supporter
or have ever been anywhere
near the Victoria Ground you
would of probably heard all
Phil lives in the Streets of
Stoke near to where the
Victoria Ground used to be
and his front room is a
decorative Aladdin's cave to
Stoke City Football Club
It is a shrine to the Potters
with posters, pictures and
memorabilia plastered every
and anywhere where they
could possibly be plastered..
In the past before the move to
the Brit, Phil even used to let Stoke City Supporters and even visiting supporters to step
inside his front door and have a look at his fantastic tribute to the mighty Potters.
"..SHERON SHOOTS!!! AND THE BALL'S IN THE BACK OF
THE NET!!!! ...GLANCING HEADER FROM THORNE!!! AND
THE BALL'S IN THE BACK OF THE NET!!!!... KAVANAGH
IS BRINGING IT FORWARD, HE'S LINING UP A SHOT, HE
SHOOTS!!! AND THE BALL'S IN THE BACK OF THE
NET!!!!!! ... MARTIN CARRUTHERS CUTS INSIDE FROM
THE LEFT, HE'S BARING DOWN ON THE KEEPER, HE
SHOOTS!!! AND THE BALL'S IN THE BACK OF THE
Nigel needs no introduction to Stoke fans, however his voice is
most likely to be more familiar to us all than his face... Nigel is BBC Radio Stoke's official
Stoke City Commentator and reporter, and what a great job he does.. Over the years he has
had to put up with working with people like former Vale Commentator George"Bright as a
flood light" Andrews, but Nigel continues to consistently report on Stoke matches week in
week out all over the country.. His style is brilliant, he knows what he's talking about and his
commentary is fluent, fast flowing and informative..
I don't think people quite appreciate how lucky we are to have some one like Nigel doing the
job that he does.. Having traveled to many Stoke away games I often tune in to rival radio
Stations just out of interest, and it has to be said that some of the commentators for other
teams are absolutely shite!, they mumble and stutter, don't know one player from the next
and seem to bluff their way through a 90 minutes.. Thank you Nigel, we are very lucky to
have someone who is as good at his job as you are when it comes to Stoke City.. Keep up the
DO YOU KNOW OF ANY CHARACTERS FROM THE VIC???.. THE LIST THAT IS SHOWN ABOVE IS JUST FROM MY MEMORY AND FROM MEDIA ARTICLES. IF YOU DO KNOW ANY OTHER SPECIAL CHARACTERS AND WISH TO EMAIL THEM
TO ME THEN I WILL TRY TO ADD THEM TO THIS SITE... REMEMBER, PEOPLE LIKE THIS AND GO TOWARDS BREATHING LIFE AND ENTHUSIASM INTO THE THINGS THAT THEY LOVE AND CARE ABOUT MOST.. LETS NOT FORGET THEM...
THIS PAGE IS A SHRINE TO THEM AND ALL THE DEDICATION THEY HAVE
SHOWN TO OUR BELOVED FOOTBALL CLUB.