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Close season a busy time for Jeff

ANOTHER marathon football season is over.

But if you thought top sports presenter Jeff Stelling would put his feet up you'd be mistaken.

Hartlepool-born Jeff is just as busy close season as he waits for the action to start all over again.

RICHARD MENNEAR reports.

"I don't really get up to much when the football season is over," states Jeff.

Then he reeled off a list of commitments that would keep most of us busy for a year.

He works for a national newspaper and bookmakers Coral, and also has business commitments in Spain and a number of charity engagements.

He is also writing a book, due out next year, revealing everything about Soccer Saturday, the show he fronts on Sky Sports alongside a panel of football experts.

Jeff cut his journalistic teeth at the Mail in the 1970s before moving into radio and television.

He is an avid Hartlepool United fan but the 53-year-old is pleased to have his Saturdays back after a long season.

Jeff, whose mother still lives in the same Catcote Road house that he grew up in, said: "A few years ago I used to cover all sports during the summer months but then one day my boss said to me; 'I think you're getting on a bit, so we are going to take all that away from you and you can go away and relax.'

"I don't really do any other filming during the summer because after 10 months of football I am ready for a break. Mind you, August comes round quicker than you'd think."

During the season Jeff, who also presents live midweek football, can be found at the M3 Winchester Services, preparing for the six hour show.

"I cover live games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and Thursday and Friday is non-stop preparation for the Saturday show. By the time Sunday comes I just want to lock myself in a dark room and unwind.

"It is absolutely forbidden for me to take a holiday during the winter so I don't get to spend much time with the family.

"Mind you there are not many people that can say they get ten weeks off in the summer."

After working so hard during the winter you'd think the former Rift House Primary pupil would want to relax but offers of work are never far away.

His weekly column in a national newspaper and his work for Coral means he keeps an eye on the European Championships, "although without England it doesn't have the same appeal", he says.

"I do charity events to show my face but I don't really do a lot of after dinner speaking. The good ones are absolutely brilliant and the bad ones are awful.

"I don't really enjoy it and I wouldn't like to be classed as a bad one, especially when your first few jokes don't go down well."

His debut book, Jellyman's Thrown a Wobbly, is due out next year.

"The book takes its name from Mansfield's defender, Gareth Jellyman. I thought to myself wouldn't it be great if one day he got sent off, so I could say the line, 'it looks as if Jellyman has thrown a wobbly'.

"Thankfully he did."

Jeff, who loves travelling and playing golf, is also an honorary member of the Horses 4 Causes project which sees a percentage of winnings and membership fees donated to charity.

The former Hartlepool Grammar School student has links in the business world and is currently involved with Football Village, a Spanish based company with English roots.

The company links up with British football clubs and sells overseas property to fans.

During the season the football fanatic spends every Saturday sitting alongside ex-footballers keeping us up to date with all the latest action.

"I can't say that I have missed the lads but it has only been about four weeks and I don't like to tell them that I miss them. They are a great bunch and I love working with them."

And how will Pools fare this season?

"I'm a bit concerned about the lack of money and there will be some big clubs in the league so it will be tough. Danny Wilson will have to work some minor miracles in the transfer market."

The father-of-three loves nothing more than spending time with his family in their Alresford home, in Hampshire.

Jeff is married to full-time mum, Liz, 42, and the couple have three children, Robbie, nine, Matt, eight and four-year-old Olivia.

Proud dad Jeff said: "My nine-year-old loves to watch football and is always commentating on the matches while my eight-year-old is a great goalkeeper and I am trying to get Wilson to sign him up.

"My youngest loves to spend most of her time beating me up. It is a big bonus to be able to spend some time with them and that makes me feel younger than my 53 years."

 
 
 

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