Mystery man comes forward

Derek Welsh
Derek Welsh

MEET Derek Welsh, the Poolie who’s idea – and doll – has had millions of people chuckling at their television screens.

For it was 59-year-old Hartlepool United fan Derek who handed over a James Brown doll to Jeff Stelling when the TV star was back in town to open Rift House Community Centre four years ago.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Passionate Jeff jigged along to the sound of the dancing doll when the soul singer’s namesake and Hartlepool United striker bagged two goals on the opening day of the season against Colchester United.

Thousands of YouTube hits followed.

Since then, Jeff always produces the doll – which belts out the tune ‘I Feel Good’ when its pressed – every time James Brown hits the net.

Where the famous doll came from was never questioned or known – until now.

During a visit back to Hartlepool last week Jeff revealed that he was handed the doll outside the community centre, but didn’t know the name of the person who gave it to him.

The Hartlepool Mail featured the story last week and retired electrician Derek got in touch to tell us that he was the ‘mystery man’.

Derek, a dad-of-two who lives in Colenso Street, in the town, revealed that the doll had actually been collecting dust in the attic, until he came up with the idea to hand it over to Jeff.

“I had seen Jeff on Sky Sports celebrating when James Brown scored and I thought of the doll straight away.”

When Jeff came to town, Derek made the short trip to Rift House, waited for the presenter Jeff to come out and handed the doll over, saying: “Give us all a laugh” – and that’s exactly what the presenter has done ever since.

Derek says: “I still laugh now.

“Every time he gets the doll out my mates let me know about it.”

Derek said it’s actually his partner, Barbara Usher, 55, who deserves the credit.

It was Barbara who bought the doll as a joke for Derek after spotting it in Blackpool on a girls’ weekend.

“I don’t think she had any idea back then that it would end up on the television and YouTube,” laughed Derek.