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Missing Jeff Stelling

2 weeks ago

This year will see, in my eyes, the greatest ever football presenter stand down.

Jeff Stelling has been the Sky Sports matchday anchor man for the last three decades.

During that period, he has shown an uncanny knowledge of the game, always delivered in his own enthusiastic and witty style.

In the 1970s, the BBC and ITV respectively had a TV legend apiece in Jimmy Hill and Brian Moore.

‘Match of the Day’ on a Saturday night was essential viewing and one of the highlights of my week, with Jimmy Hill doing it all by himself in his inimitable and forthright way (***No daft Danny Murphy and Jermaine Jenas punditry bores to spoil the entertainment back then).

Over on ITV, the laid back and assured Brian Moore presented ‘On the Ball’ on a Saturday lunch time, as well as turning out on Sundays for highlights of the previous day’s action in ‘The Big Match’.

Jeff Stelling though, has given us some of the best footballing live moments we are ever likely to see.

My favourites include Carlisle’s on loan goalkeeper Jimmy Glass scoring a dramatic 94th minute winner in 1999, that kept Carlisle in the Football League.

And who will ever forget the euphoria in the Sky studios in 2012 after Sergio Ageuro had snatched the title from Fergie and Manchester United’s grasp.

For local rivalry reasons though, my favourite piece of Jeff Stelling was in 2018, when Sunderland “went for a Burton”.

I was in the Top House in North Shields with a couple of mates and Jeff was going around the grounds, gathering the latest off reporters as full-times approached.

All of a sudden, our attention was caught when Jeff said there had been a goal at the Stadium of Light.

Indeed there had, ex-mackem Darren Bent had equalised for Burton in the 87th minute.

It was then my round for the drinks and and the barmaid had to change one of the lines. As I waited at the bar, Jeff Stelling excitedly proclaimed “and there has been another goal at the Stadium of Light”.

Everybody in the pub was glued to the screen as we waited for the outside reporter to emerge.

He soon did and then we all saw it….Sunderland 1 Burton 2.

There was pandemonium in the bar. When things settled down, the viewers were then informed by Jeff Stelling that all the results were conspiring against Sunderland, and that they would be relegated if everything stayed the same.

Within a minute the atmosphere changed again and it was back to Wearside, alas Sunderland had equalised…..or had they?

A linesman’s flag had apparently gone up, and after a tension filled delay, the goal was disallowed. Cue more celebrations in the bar.

The games were all now finishing and soon the yellow band came across the bottom of the screen to simultaneously confirm along with Jeff Stelling, that “Sunderland had been relegated to League 1”.

I certainly enjoyed Burton that day and it wouldn’t have been as exhilarating, if it hadn’t have been for Jeff, as per usual.

He hails from Hartlepool and has proved over the years that he is the consummate professional.

He has also always been a rational and fair guy, often fighting Newcastle United’s and our supporters corner, when nuggets like Merson and Nicholas have been spouting utter rubbish.

I wonder what is next in line for this wonderful entertainer?

Over to you Jeff.


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