Jackie Fullerton, voice of local football, retires after 43 years

Jackie Fullerton in the commentary box at Saturday's Irish Cup Final
Jackie Fullerton in the commentary box at Saturday's Irish Cup Final

Veteran sports broadcaster Jackie Fullerton was given a fond farewell for his final match commentary.

On Saturday, the 72-year-old, who has been the voice of local football for 43 years, commentated on his last match – the Irish Cup Final between Glenavon and Linfield – alongside David Jeffrey at Windsor Park.

“People asked me was it sad, and of course it is when something you love comes to an end,” he said.

“But I can’t be selfish and say I am sad because I enjoyed every minute of it. It has been quite a journey.

“I will do the occasional match next year but to all intents and purposes it is the end of live commentary.”

Jackie started commentating for UTV in 1978.

“It was the first time the two Irelands had met at the old Landsdowne Road,” he added.

“I just loved it, the adrenalin rush, and I couldn’t wait to do it again.

“My first commentary for the BBC was in 1992 when Glenavon and Linfield met in the Irish Cup final at the Oval.

“And then when I decided this was my last live final Glenavon were playing Linfield again. So it came full circle, and once again Glenavon won.”

Jackie admitted his final commentary “went well” and said he appreciated the various tributes that were paid on the day.

“The IFA announced to the crowd that it was my last final and there was a great atmosphere. The fans gave me a standing ovation and that can bring a lump to your throat, but I always had a good relationship with the fans.”

Adding that “football has been my life”, Jackie says he will now have more time to support his hometown team Ballymena United who he believes “may be going places” under new boss David Jeffrey.

And when asked if he will miss the adrenalin rush, he said: “How you repeat that, I don’t know.”

An inspiration and mentor, and a dad to be proud of

Growing up as young boys, friends would often ask my two brothers and I: ‘what is it like watching your dad on television?’, writes News Letter football corrrespondent Gareth Fullerton.

The very thought of seeing a parent on the small screen seemed to hold them all in thrall.

For Darren, Nicky and I, it was something we didn’t pay too much attention to as misty-eyed kids.

We were too busy living our dreams in the local park, kicking a football about until we were breathless, or racing our bicycles in the mould of Joey Dunlop at the North West 200.

But as time passed and we all entered the world of journalism, it was hard to escape the warmth and affection in which dad was held by the people he met and worked with.

I have no doubt that Saturday was an emotional day for dad as the curtain fell on a career spanning over 40 years.

From the round of applause at Windsor Park to the BBC’s touching tribute, to the numerous posts of appreciation on social media, it somehow signalled the end of an era.

It was heart-warming as I looked on at someone who has been an inspiration and mentor to me. But, more importantly, a dad I am so proud of.