I love my Saturdays, especially in football season. I buy the Guardian, I get me some nibbles and settle to watch Gillette Soccer Saturday and get drunk. Once I got so drunk I fell asleep and nearly burnt down an entire apartment block in Salford Quays. But that’s a diary entry for another once upon a time.
Jeff Stelling is my hero. Part of me was uncomfortable with buying into Murdoch’s empire but the other part was addicted to Sky Sports’ hyperbole and garish colour. The addiction to the show, and to the booze for that matter, wasn’t always conducive to relationships but selfishly I indulged knowing that with Jeff the black dog was locked in its kennel at least for the day. But what will I do now I’m off-grid with no Sky dish or often no TV signal at all? Nothing for it but to find a pub that’ll show it.
Gillette Soccer Saturday isn’t everyone’s bag (neither is football itself of course) but I can find myself transfixed. Stelling is a brilliant wit, an intelligent brain and flawless anchorman. Merse is hilariously malapropistic, Tommo is unfortunately Scouse, Champagne Charlie is cool as fuck and Tiss thinks he’s a saint, but all four are kept in line by the consummate Jeff.
About five years ago I was lucky enough to meet him. I was working on Coronation Street at Granada (I miss that Quay Street oasis in the heart of Manchester – I had many happy days there) and the bosses offered staff a chance to cross-fertilise ie see what other TV practitioners got up to day-to-day. I chose to spend a day on Countdown, shadowing a runner. It was great fun; I got to sit in a contestant’s seat for a rehearsal, I got to play a game (but could only manage a five-letter word, much to my embarrassment and dismay). And I finally got to meet my hero. Jeff’s immediately likeable, affable, smart and handsome – he could play Bond… if he were a little taller maybe. I told him I’d always been a fan and had written requesting a shout on Gillette Soccer Saturday for a throng of avid Stoke City fans – myself, Dom, Charlie and my muckers. Apologetic, Jeff confessed he can’t always find time to give shouts but promised he’d try that coming weekend.
To my dying day I’ll regret that for some reason (must’ve been something dull and unavoidable like a wedding) I missed the show, so will never know if Jeff was true to his word. I of course like to think he was. But in some ways it doesn’t matter – I’d got to press the flesh of a “football legend”.
Talking of making good on promises, my welder showed up!
The best result this Saturday! Thank God for Steven and Yorkshire Mobile Welding Services! Here’s a welder I must respect and here’s to getting back on the road to Scotland. The Otter will soon be mobile again so lock up your rich Scottish widows!