Rock On, Tommy

Wednesday, February 6, 2008 0:02 | Filed in Life, Sport

It isn’t every day you have a conversation with a gentleman who scored 74 league goals, and won an FA Cup and a Cup Winners Cup medal, and today was no exception.

However, a week or two ago, I was partaking of liquid refreshment with a couple of colleagues of mine, and we got chatting to this bloke who asked my colleague where he was from, him obviously not being blessed with a Geordie accent. He indicated that he was from Barnsley, and then asked the other gentleman where he was from, as he didn’t have a Geordie accent either.

He said he was originally from Gateshead, but he lived down South, and he’d worked in London for years.

Fair enough we thought, and after he tried to guess our jobs (we weren’t policemen) and we revealed out IT credentials, it was our turn to try and work out what he’d been doing down South.

We suggested that perhaps he’d been an electrician. And a yacht salesman. And the theories were getting even more bizarre when he informed us that he used to be a professional sportsman. We enquired further: what did you do?

He told us he was a footballer.

“Who did you play for?” we asked.


Hmm. We’d heard of them. Suddenly we were beginning to be a little impressed and intrigued, particularly because getting the information out of him was like getting blood out of a stone: he wasn’t some “big time Charlie” crowing about his career: he wouldn’t even have mentioned it, had we not been suggesting he used to be a yacht salesman…

“Did you score many goals for them?” we asked.

“94, I think”.

Hmm. Scoring 94 goals isn’t a bad return. That suggests he was a rather decent player. Even more so when he said the thing that meant more to him was that the last time he was at a Chelsea match, they were singing his song, despite the fact he hadn’t played for them since 1974.

We enquired of him his name — Tommy Baldwin — and it was only after doing things like looking him up on the internet that we discovered he’d won the FA Cup and Cup Winners Cup (beating Real Madrid in the final), because he’d not bothered to mention that.

The Shed End (a Chelsea fan site) have a specific Tommy Baldwin Profile page on their ‘Legends’ section showing his song, mentioning the fact he scored 74 league goals for the club (the other 20 presumably coming in cups), and mentioning that his club nickname was apparently ‘sponge’ in honour of his ability to soak up alcohol…

Although The Shed End would also point out that he only actually scored 92 goals for the club in total (see Chelsea Record Goalscorers List), I’m willing to let him off with this on the basis of he was out for a pint, he said “I think” and to be honest he probably wasn’t expecting to be tested on the history of his footballing career…

But I’d just like to say what a nice bloke. He was genuinely a pleasure to talk to;even more so because he obviously was just out for a quiet drink and not wanting to brag about his career or achievements, despite the fact that he was genuinely a Chelsea legend. He was just in with some bloke he’d known from all those years ago…

It was nice to meet you Tommy. If our paths cross again, I’ll buy you a drink.

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5 Comments to Rock On, Tommy

  1. Dan says:

    February 6th, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Nice story Jack, shows how football has changed. He was before my time but I know the name Tommy Baldwin from my grandad’s recollections of Chelsea. I inherited the Chelsea bug from him, if he was around today I don’t think he’d recognise the club he supported all his life.

  2. Dolly says:

    February 29th, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    As the mother of Tommy.s daughter Lucy, I would like to add a sentence or two.

    The talent in Tommy’s feet was transferred to Lucy’s voice, she like Tommy is very modest but has the most beautiful voice and sings the blues. Like Tommy she has often been in the shadows, but I feel will one day will be famous in her own right just like her father.

    Having been married to Tommy, I can only say, its a pity wisdom is not a gift one has until later in life.

  3. Lucy Baldwin says:

    February 29th, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    Tommy’s daughter:

    It’s Mother’s Day in two days time and mine has just written the most touching “comments” one could ever read from a parent. I am most proud of my Father, he has achieved an enormous amount through hard work and also watched it all ebb away, as success often does, for those who are gifted. There’s nothing quite like the roar of the crowd. The silence takes a lifetime to adjust to. I believe he quite likes it now, we all have to grow up one day and with wisdom comes contentment.
    I still watch him soaring over the pitch in the glory days with an absolute sense of pride. I have the knowledge that my Dad was one of the best, and if you can be that at anything, at any time of your life, you have no need to be anything other than humble. One always feels a degree of gratitude for being exceptional.
    As for me, my first album was the Chelsea football club compilation, ‘Blue Is The Colour’ being the title track, though my favourite was always Strollin’. Unfortunately, I left it by the rad and it has a large warp only overcome by tuppance on the turntable needle! I digress, I do sing the blues now, like my life depends on it, and it does, even if I don’t shout about it.
    The biggest trophy my Dad ever had, and lost, was my Mother. One in a million.
    I love you dad x

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