Imagine this: you’re live on air hosting the climax to the football season. Your team are in a perilous position, teetering on the brink of relegation. You make no attempt to keep your cool. You even dress in your team’s stripes to mark the magnitude of the occasion.
That was the situation Jeff Stelling found himself in when he anchored yesterday’s edition of Soccer Saturday. The long-standing presenter of the Saturday football show found himself on air as his team Hartlepool United battled to stay in League Two. They needed a win over Doncaster Rovers – but they were also at the mercy of Newport FC who had to lose to ensure Hartlepool’s survival.
During the broadcast, Stelling – and his tense co-commentators – experienced sheer ecstasy as 18-year-old substitute Devante Rodney slid in two late goals to give his team a chance of staying up.
But the joy didn’t last long. No sooner had Hartlepool given themselves a fighting chance, then Newport struck back with a late winner that ensured the final spot in the division belonged to them. Hartlepool were relegated out of the Football League for the first time since 1921 – and Stelling’s crestfallen face said it all…
Poor Jeff. We hope someone gave him a hug when they came off air.