(born 1956) is a sports journalist
and sport television presenter
, who has become one of television's most popular personalities, hosting Sky Sports's
Saturday afternoon football show Gillette Soccer Saturday
and other programming for the satellite broadcaster.
Stelling was brought up in the north-east of England in Hartlepool
, and is a lifelong supporter of his hometown side
, although he admitted to Sky Sports News
viewers he always looked out for his second team Burnley F.C.
After an apprenticeship on the local newspaper his first broadcasting position was as a reporter on Middlesbrough F.C. on Radio Tees. He was a sports presenter on London's LBC Radio "Sportswatch" programme in the early 1980s before moving to BBC Radio 2's weekend sports programme Sport On 2, covering the Los Angeles and Seoul Olympic games. He later spent time as a sports newsreader at TV-am, Channel 4, Eurosport and British Satellite Broadcasting before moving to Sky in 1992 to present coverage of horse racing, snooker and darts.
In 1994 Stelling became presenter of Sports Saturday, which became Soccer Saturday in 1998, hosting a programme lasting up to six hours of football discussion and live reports on the afternoon's games with a panel of pundits including Frank McLintock, Chris Kamara, Rodney Marsh and the unfortunately late George Best. Much of the programme's popularity is put down to Stelling, The Guardian praising him for "exceptional professionalism and élan and When Saturday Comes describing him as "perhaps the best sports presenter on British TV".
In March 2008, Stelling was named as Broadcaster of the Year for the third successive time by the Journalists' Association of Great Britain, based on a poll of its members.
Stelling rarely appears on terrestrial television, despite known offers to become the face of ITV Sport, although in 2003 he won a sports presenter special edition of The Weakest Link. In 2004, Stelling was offered by the BBC to front Score — their new Saturday results service. Stelling rejected the offer and the job was given to Ray Stubbs
At the start of the 2005-06 Premiership football season, Stelling replaced Ian Payne as the host of Sky Sports' Ford Monday Night Football programme. However, Stelling's appointment coincided with a new, shorter format of the programme, with Stelling presenting the show live from the ground of that evening's game. Previously, the show had been presented from a studio, and had featured some coverage of the prior weekend's games. Moreover, in previous years on Monday nights without a live game, a "Monday Night Football Special" would be broadcast, which included only the analysis from the weekend's games. This appears to have been dropped from the 2005-06 season, indicating that Stelling's appointment is to a smaller role than that held by his predecessors.
Stelling's popularity has risen remarkably over the past two years with a solid fanbase forming. The aptly named "Jeff Stelling Appreciation Society" on Facebook has more than 11,000 members to date and is continuing to grow.
In November 2007 he was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Teesside.
On 9 August 2008, when James Brown scored for Hartlepool against Colchester, Jeff played "I Feel Good" by the singer of the same name live on air. Jeff played it again 1 minute later when Brown scored again, exclaiming 'Hartlepool 2 Colchester 0. James Brown again. How sick of this are you going to be by May!?' Hartlepool went on to win 4-2.
Jeff made a brief apperance in an episode of Mike Bassett: Manager where he played himself.
One-liners used on Soccer Saturday
Stelling often delivers one-liners if a player with a certain name appears on the vidiprinter. Examples include the following:
- "He's a PLASTERER by trade..."
- When Gareth Jelleyman was sent off for Mansfield Town in the 2005-2006 season Stelling replied "it looks as if Jellyman has thrown a wobbly". On the 4th October 2008, Jelleyman was sent off again, and Jeff Stelling used the same line to refer to the first time.
- Whenever Adam Stansfield scores, he says 'Lisa will be pleased'.
- Similarly, he says 'Sally will be pleased' whenever current Arbroath player Kevin Webster scores.
- Also whenever Kevin Nolan scores for Bolton Wanderers, Jeff usually says, "his sisters will be pleased".
- Stelling almost always refers to former Gretna striker Kenny Deuchar as 'The Good Doctor', whenever he scores. This is due to Deuchar actually being a qualified doctor.
- When Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu scored for Sheffield Wednesday, Jeff quipped "Local boy makes good"
- "There's only one Enoch Showunmi. Thank God for that"!
- Once when Michael Kightly scored for Wolverhampton Wanderers Jeff said "Kightly onto a flyer"
- Once when Craig Alcock almost scored for Yeovil Town, Jeff laughed "Craig can't seem to put it away!"
- Whenever a player called Stephenson scores, Jeff says "I bet that was a rocket".
- When Daniel Agger scored a spectacular goal against West Ham United at Anfield during the 2006–07 season, Jeff remarked "Just how did Agger-do that?"
- When James Brown scored for Hartlepool, Jeff sang "I feel good". On 9 August 2008, when he scored, Jeff Stelling appeared dancing on screen with a singing James Brown figure that sang I feel good. He states this will occur every time James Brown scores this season.
- He often refers to Brighton & Hove Albion as two different teams.
- Similarly, he refers to Dagenham & Redbridge as separate teams.
- When a passage of play in a Wigan Athletic match involved the player Fitz Hall Jeff comically referred to him as "good old one-size". This was in reference to the commonly used phrase "one size fits-all".
- When Bristol Rovers striker Andy Williams scores, Jeff points out it was a free transfer, and that the transfer was "too good to be true" in a reference to a line from singer Andy Williams' song Can't Take My Eyes Off You. This despite the fact that Williams was actually signed from Hereford United for a six figure fee.
- One of Stelling's famous catchphrases on his Sky Sports show occurred whenever the Welsh team "Total Network Solutions" (now The New Saints F.C.) won a game, upon which he invariably commented, "They'll be dancing in the streets of Total Network Solutions tonight". Stelling has now updated the catchphrase to "dancing in the streets of The New Saints" as the team has changed its name.
- When Brian Wilson of Bristol City scored in 2007, Stelling commented that Wilson had just moved from Cheltenham and that "He Gets Around". While commenting on the score later in the game Stelling asked "Wouldn't It Be Nice" if Wilson got another, before going on to say that if the opposition equalised then Wilson would have to "Do It Again".
- When referee Andre Marriner made a bad decision, Stelling stated that "the referee is all at sea in that game".
- Whenever Darren Mansaram scores, Jeff says "Wham-Bam-Mansaram"
- When Dean Drough scored for Cowdenbeath, he made the comment 'He must be the cousin of dandruff.'
- He has a habit, particularly towards the very end of the season, to over-use the phrase 'To all intents and purposes', to describe a club who is very nearly promoted, relegated, or in a play-off position, but not quite there.
- Jeff famously swore live on the show when he heard Hartlepool were losing.
On Soccer Saturday, Jeff Stelling famously had a 2 minute rant after during the week Middlesbrough had been voted the worst place to live in England. He named some of Middlesbrough's famous places and people and was cheered on by Le Tiss, Thommo, Big Mac and Nicholas. He got a reward afterwards. This rant can be viewed on Youtube
Collection of ties
Jeff has a lot of ties, claiming he has 'around 100'. He has a lot of the same, including a lot of spotted or multi-coloured circled ones. He usually wears a red tie for FA Cup day.