A packed Priory Suite at the KGV enjoyed a memorably fitting finale to the club’s 50th Golden Jubilee season when famous Sky Sports TV presenter Jeff Stelling wowed his audience with a fascinating insight into the world of top flight football.
Hartlepool-born Jeff spoke non-stop for well over an hour, aided by former Middlesbrough star Craig Hignett who asked a series of questions to get to the heart of what makes the a top sports presenter tick.
Before Jeff got to his feet Guisborough Town General Manager Chris Wood, who hosted the event superbly, showed a video of Jeff’s famous rant live on Sky Sports Soccer Saturday in 2020 when he responded to news of a survey which painted a very unflattering picture of the Teesside area.
It branded Middlesbrough and Hartlepool as two of the worst places to live in the UK. Fiercely proud of the area where he was born, Jeff responded very forcibly by extolling the many virtues of Teesside in a famous ‘rant’ which literally went viral.
At the end of the video, the Priory Suite audience gave Jeff a prolonged round of applause. And following his riveting Q&A with ‘Higgy’ Jeff also took questions from the audience and then posed for pictures with virtually everybody in the audience.
Hartlepool’s Hollywood Calling
In what was something of an exclusive revelation to his Guisborough audience, Jeff revealed how he spent 90 minutes speaking to an agent of Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney when they were looking to buy a UK professional football club. Jeff got the impression Hartlepool United were at the top of their list but negotiations broke down when the actors couldn’t match the £1.8 million Hartlepool’s Chairman Raj Singh wanted for the club. So the Hollywood duo then opted to buy Wrexham FC so a huge opportunity was lost for Hartlepool.
Chris Wood, who celebrated his 26th birthday the day before the Stelling event, said after the event: “We would like to give a massive thank you to Craig Hignett and Jeff Stelling who put on an unbelievable show in the Priory Suite on Thursday night with many fantastic stories being told along with photo opportunities.”
For those who missed Jeff’s famous rant here is the link to the hilarious clip which was posted on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=X55A-2C7IOY
Selection of photos from the event courtesy of Dan Clark.
Jeff’s Longstanding Relationship with GTFC
A particularly poignant moment came at the end of Sky Sports TV legend Jeff Stelling’s fascinating session at the KGV clubhouse. It happened when a very special cartoon-style picture of Guisborough Town’s 1980 FA Vase finalist team was projected on to the screen at the back of the stage (see below).
Up onto the stage stepped staunch present-day Guisborough Town volunteer Dennis Wheeler, AKA the former club goalkeeper and Assistant Manager to Mick Hodgson when the Priorymen reached the FA Vase Final at Wembley in 1980.
Dennis explained the background to the cartoon which depicted the whole squad and team management posing with an image of Jeff Stelling (standing far right with microphone) when he was a reporter with the old Radio Tees station.
Jeff became quite familiar around the KGV over 40 years ago as he did several local radio pieces to air featuring Guisborough’s historic journey to Wembley – an assignment which was perhaps a forerunner to his meteoric rise later in his journalistic career to reach its pinnacle with Sky Sports.
Dennis recalled the appreciation the team had of the interest Jeff took in covering the 1980 Vase run and to Jeff’s great surprise and delight Dennis presented him with a replica of the cartoon.
Jeff thanked the club and said he would treasure the cartoon, pointing out that as could be seen from the cartoon, he joked that he was taller than half of the Guisborough squad – although admittedly he was actually standing whilst all those in the front row were sitting down!
Jeff clearly has a little bit of a sensitivity about his rather diminutive stature, telling the audience on Thursday: “Right away I’d like to address the elephant in the room. Yes I’m not as tall as I appear on television so just in case you were wondering how tall I actually am I’m five feet seven inches…oh and a quarter,” he added jokingly!
Sadly, no-one at the club appears to know who actually drew the cartoon but the poster bottom right of the picture seems to suggest it was produced by one of Radio Tees’ artists at the time.