After being Dumfries born, bred and schooled, he set forth to join the world of presenting. He has since put together a CV that, after starting off with Radio Tay, included a period with STV. Moving on he then enjoyed a spell with GM TV that saw him move to London before basing himself in Paris as GM TV’s European correspondent. Having since returned to STV at the start of the millennium, his travels with the channel have seen him take in destinations as far as the likes of Tasmania and Malawi. He is now the presenter of the channel’s flagship, ‘The Five Thirty Show’. Having been boldly taking the gospel of Doonhamerism to the television sets of the UK and the destinations of the globe, he remains a passionate Queens fan! Unsurprisingly, since he possesses composure and charm that makes Barack Obama look like an anger management issue in comparison, it was a pleasure to listen to Stephen Jardine cheerfully shooting the breeze about Queens.
“Your connections with Queens are very strong through your late father Bill being a former director of the club.”
Stephen: “Not just my father, my grandfather also. My early memories are going to watch the games at Palmerston with grandpa and my uncle and my dad, and then we all used to go back to my grandfather’s. My gran used to have tea in the tea pot at 5 o’clock I’d sit and watch the tele-printer results, remember those coming in? We’d have tea and talk about the game and things. That’s some of the earliest stuff I can remember and its connected to Queen of the South.”
“What age were you when you went to your first game at Palmerston?”
“I think I must have been, I would have been 4, it was pre-school. I don’t remember much about it I’ve got to say, I remember being cold, the seat being sore, but that was about it really.”
“Allan Ball was there then, the players that I grew up watching were Iain McChesney, Allan Ball, those were my heroes when I was a nipper going to watch games at Palmerston. They were long time servants of the club. I don’t mean this in a disparaging way, the guys that play now, they move around and they play here and they play there, but back then your club was your club. I think Iain McChesney was there 20 years, the longest ever serving player for Queens. And Allan Ball too, 819 games, real kind of Queens addicts like the rest of us and that made for a kind of special connection I think.”
“Down the years I remember watching Rowan Alexander and I remember really clearly Tommy Bryce [MK II], a game against Celtic, it was a League Cup game at Palmerston and he scored. Queens lost, it was a big crowd I think about 5000, Queens lost in the end but we were 1-1 at half time, and Tommy Bryce scored an absolute belter from about 25 yards. Pat Bonner it was in goal. That’s one of my great Queens memories, I just had a great view of that, it’s very clear in my memory.”
“Then there’s other games that I’m told I was at, I can’t remember a thing about it. I wish I’d kept a diary at the time, the memory plays tricks on you.”
“The cup run last year, did you make it to any of the games in that?”
“Yeah, I did. I was down for the Dundee game.”
“It was super stuff!”
“I made it to that, then of course I was at Hampden for both games. I was there for the Aberdeen game. To me, I treated that as the final. I thought it cannot get better than this and I went out and celebrated as such. And then when we got to half time against Rangers, my son was there with me, I said to him, ‘If we can just get one goal against Rangers at Hampden that will be the icing on the cake’. And then of course when the game developed in the second half, and big Jim Thomson’s goal, I thought this is meant to be, this is written in the stars. I don’t know how you felt at the end of it? I was disappointed but I came away feeling elated as well, because we came so close. All the Rangers fans that I met certainly on the way out of the ground were just so complimentary about what we’d done, and I was getting loads of texts and messages from guys that I work with who are Rangers fans as well saying, ‘Well done’ and ‘You could easily have done it on the day’. That felt great.”
(Paul Burns on the deck gets his shot away at the second attempt in the semi final against Aberdeen to make it 2-1 to QoS)
“The occasion was overwhelming in so many ways for them and Rangers are used to these big occasions and the big crowds and the big noise. We’re not. I think you can’t factor too much in about that, but I mean still, absolutely amazing! I was lucky enough, I went to training just before the Aberdeen game, down at Glasgow Green and I met some of the guys down there. And then I came down, we did some filming at Palmerston just a week before the final, and that was terrific standing in the centre spot there with the chairman and talking about it, and looking forward to it with fingers crossed. And then just that day by luck the cup was down for a photo call for the newspapers, so I made sure I got a hold of it and I made sure my wee boy got a hold of it. I got a photo so he’s got that on his wall at the moment.”
(left to right, Neil MacFarlane, Stephen Dobbie, Barry Ferguson and Davie Weir)
“Who does your boy support? Queens?”
“He does. His other grandparents are down in Newcastle so he kind of splits his allegiance between Newcastle and Queen of the South but we’re not having the best possible season. I asked him if he would be choosing another team and he said, “No, no, I’ll stick with what I’ve got.”
“Good for him, a bit of loyalty.”
“I know that’s what we need. I read most about it to be honest on the websites and from the Standard that I get sent up to me and things like that. It’s obviously been a bad season with injuries, the flu seemed to knock out a lot of players and things as well, but I think we’d all have hoped for more given what happened last season. Your expectations, the bar is raised when that happens. Traditionally Queens haven’t always had the possible start to the season, this has been the stage when they really rally. But after such a good start I think hopes were really high, but since then it’s been disappointing. Looking back to last year what’s still in place is a great Manager, a fantastic Chairman, and a real mix of experience and youth in the squad and I think we’ve just got to keep the faith and hope that things will turn right.”
“Did you make it to the UEFA Cup?”
“I didn’t no, I was desperate to go to Denmark. A few of my pals went, we were all set to go. I was really keen to go, and my pal Stephen Halliday kind of organised flights and everything for it, and then the usual problem is just getting away from work and getting away from doing the program that I do. So I couldn’t get away for it but I had it on in the office here. I was the only one sitting watching it, with the volume switched straight up which I think got on everybody’s nerves on the day. But, I think it was as much as we could have hoped for in the circumstances from watching the game and speaking to guys who were over there. I think we did as well as we could but it’s a big ask for a team to go over there and again, the occasion, and the pressure, it’s difficult and I think we gave as good as we could have done.”
“They had a good go over there and even a goal up they would still have gone out so they had to throw caution to the wind.”
“You’ve got to throw absolutely everything at it and I think coming back in that situation was going to be more or less impossible. I think they can be absolutely proud of it, there’s nothing to be embarrassed at all about in the performance but I think that’s what you’ve got to take away from these things.”
Stephen of course isn’t the only TV presenter with Dumfries connections. It was too much to resist asking if he knew if the others were Queens fans.
“I’m led to believe that Kirsty Wark was born in Dumfries, do you know Kirsty Wark at all?”
“I know her husband actually, I know her a wee bit, her husband works in the same building as me, he’s head of content for us now, so yeah, I’ve heard that story before. I’m not sure whether it’s true or not.”
“Is she a Queen of the South fan?”
“I don’t think she is, no.” [We are since led to believe she is actually a Kilmarnock fan].
“Traitor” (said in good humour, Kirsty).
“I remember talking to her husband Alan when last season was happening and he was interested in it all but I asked if she was and he said, ‘No’. So I don’t think she’s got any interest in it all which is disappointing because we need every fan we can get.”
“What about Neil Oliver then as I’m led to believe that he lived in Dumfries for a while and went to the Academy for part of his education?”
“I saw him actually at the Spirit of Scotland awards last year and I was talking to him about it. We were two years apart at school. One of the history teachers who kind of really inspired me at school, taught him, and also kind of was what got him into history and the career that he’s in just now. Neil said he was inspirational and that was part of what made him want to pursue a career in history. So we were talking about that and we talked about the Queens, and what had happened last season. I know he hadn’t been at Hampden for the games, I think he does kind of follow them from afar.”
“Any plans to take in any more Queens games this season?”
“I was hoping to get down to the New Year game but I didn’t get to that because I wasn’t down this year. I usually try to get down to Dumfries over the holidays but I didn’t make it this year and I’m definitely going to get to a game before the close of the season. I always make it to at least one a season even if Queens are in the doldrums, I always make sure I go to at least one because I think it’s important to put at least one Saturday’s money behind the gate. It’s one thing watching for the results in the paper but you’ve got to actually get there and shout the team on!
You can catch Stephen Jardine on The Five Thirty Show on midweek days on STV.