Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Friday People: Jackie Fullerton

We ask personalities about the special relationships in their lives

Jackie Fullerton has spent 40 years in the TV spotlight
Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston
George Best would have been an ideal dinner guest for Jackie Fullerton

The 70-year-old has spent over 40 years commentating on Northern Ireland sports on radio and television. He and his wife Linda live in Ballymena. They have three grown-up sons, Darren, Nicky and Gareth

MY WIFE, LINDA

Linda and I have been married for 45 years. We met at the end of our school days at a dance.

I saw her from a distance and thought she was a lovely girl with long, dark hair. Eventually we got together and our relationship was on and off for a while.

I went to South Africa to play football and came home at the end of 1966. I had a choice of losing Linda or staying at home and keeping her, so I stayed. I always said she was the girl I was going to marry.

We've had a great relationship although we've had our ups and downs like everyone else. When I was ill after my heart surgery nine years ago she was a rock and looked after me above and beyond the call of duty.

We laugh together and we're still best friends, which I think are the reasons we have lasted the course.

MY SONS

Finding out I was going to become a father was one of the most exciting moments of my life. It was very special as it is for every man.

When Darren was born he had a thick head of black hair and I would call him wee George Best.

When they brought the babies into the wards in the morning you always knew Darren from a distance because of his thick, black hair.

Nicky came along three years later. Linda had two difficult pregnancies and her brother David, a doctor, said that we might be best to leave it at that. We were desperate for another child though, and three years later Gareth was born. They're all sports journalists now. We're like four brothers.

I also have six grandchildren ranging from nearly 16 to about 15 months old.

MY BEST FRIEND

I admire a lot of people I've met, but there are a few who are special. Terry Smyth, who has been my producer at both the BBC and UTV is one. Don Stirling, the secretary of Ballymena United is another. I've known them both for over 40 years and they're great friends and confidants. They also give me the benefit of their wisdom.

MY PARENTS

My dad Jack was a postman and my mother Martha worked in a factory. They both died in the early 2000s, eight months apart and that was a very difficult time.

I never remember being cold or hungry and I always remember getting something for Christmas.

My parents worked very hard to put us where we are.

My brother Jimmy is an architect and my sister Mareen was a singer in a band.

WHO I GO TO FOR ADVICE

I find Linda and the boys are the best people to seek advice from. Because of the job I do I'm in the public eye.

They can criticise me and I know they're doing it for the right reasons. You get the absolute truth from your family. They're the ones who really care for you at the end of the day.

MY MENTOR

There are two people. My first producer was the late Derek Murray at UTV in 1973. He taught me so much about journalism. I remember when my ego was kicking in that he said to me, "Always remember wee man, 30% like you, 30% don't and the other 40% couldn't care less".

The second is my cricketing friend from the past and former controller of BBC Northern Ireland Robin Walsh (above) who is now president of the Irish Cricket Union.

MY SECRET CRUSH IS... JENNIFER ANISTON

The first time I saw her on Friends she struck a chord. She was quirky, good looking in my view and had a nice figure. She was just foxy and I was drawn to her.

MY FANTASY DINNER PARTY

George Best is the first name on my list. I was lucky enough to become friends with him over the years.

He had a great Ulster sense of humour. Next would be Martin Luther King.

What he did, giving black people their place in American society means that you must have the highest regard for him.

I want a couple of girls in, so Mary Peters would be one. What she did in 1972 was amazing.

Finally I would invite Dr Janet Gray, the blind waterskier from Northern Ireland.

She fought back from horrendous injuries and I have the highest admiration for her.

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