Soccer AM icon Fenners admits ‘humiliating' end to show left him in a ‘dark place’

John Fendley
Scarborough-born presenter John Fendley found Soccer AM's demise tough to take -Credit:YouTube/GOLF LIFE

Soccer AM's Fenners has candidly revealed his struggles following the show's cancellation, admitting he found himself in a "dark place".

Sky Sports decided to pull the plug on the Saturday morning favourite last year. The programme had been a fixture on TV schedules for nearly three decades but was replaced by Saturday Social as part of the broadcaster's strategy to engage with social media and influencers.

Its cancellation was a significant blow for football fans and an even harder pill to swallow for those who were part of its production. Fenners, real name John Fendley, had been co-hosting since 2015, having previously worked behind the scenes.

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Speaking about his experience during a reunion with former colleagues Jimmy Bullard and Tubes on Golf Life, the Scarborough-born presenter, who attended East Ayton Primary School, Raincliffe School and Scarborough Sixth Form College, shared how he felt "humiliated" by the abrupt end and found himself "in a dark place", reports the Daily Star.

When asked if he looks back on Soccer AM with fondness, Fenners responded: "I didn't at first, it was quite hard to be honest. Just in a dark place for a bit I'll be honest with you.

"I felt a bit, not let down, just a bit humiliated that it had ended like it did. Everyone says to you 'you'll be fine, you'll get work'. I did believe that initially.

"I wanted to hit the ground running, I wasn't sitting there going 'I'm just gonna kick back a bit and wait until I get a job'. I was on the phone, ringing up people and having meetings and having coffees.

"You know within 10 seconds when you're in one of those meetings 'this is a waste of time, I can see they're just being polite'. It was always going to be hard for me to go and get a job like Soccer AM, to be a presenter and a producer. It's kind of a unique role."

The 56-year-old confessed that he had anticipated the show's end a few years prior and had been preparing himself for what might come next. He had discussions with three senior figures at Sky during his final months, keen to remain employed by them.

However, he didn't receive the feedback he hoped for, feeling as though the sentiment wasn't returned from above. Despite knowing "I was never going to get that job", he even applied to replace Jeff Stelling on Soccer Saturday to prove how desperate he was to stay.

Looking back, Fenners believes it was probably the right decision to leave. But he doesn't think Sky made the right call regarding the future of Soccer AM. "It was really hard," he added.

"First Saturday of the season, I was on holiday with the family, and my head was so f***ing gone, I came back. I said to Kate and the girls 'I'm coming back', I was not good to be around at all.

"I sat and I watched Sky all day. It was weird. After a while I got to [a place where I was] not missing it. It was so entrenched in me, that way of working. Don't get me wrong, it was the best job in the world, but it was relentless.

"I think I was just pretty worn out with it all. Creatively, my head, it was a lot. Ultimately I think for me to go, it was probably right. I didn't feel, like a lot of people, it was the right decision to get rid of Soccer AM."

While initially feeling the sting of departure, Fenners cherishes the good times and appreciates the opportunities his tenure provided. He envisages a potential comeback for Soccer AM but acknowledges that it was their team who truly resonated with the audience.