Football: Ninety-year-old is mascot for his beloved Tonbridge Angels

Gary Jefferies

GEORGE PLOWMAN was the mascot for Tonbridge Angels’ last match of the season against Worthing at Longmead Stadium – at the age of 90.

Normally the mascots are about 10 years old, and he said: “I’ve seen all the little children going out there over the years and I felt 20 or 30 years younger. I wished I was playing.”

George has been supporting the team since the 1960s, when they used to play on the Angel ground where Sainsbury’s stands today.

The team was then affiliated to The Angel Hotel on the corner of the High Street and Vale Road, and Kent used to play cricket at the site too.

He led the sides out in front of a crowd of 589 and assisted the two captains and referee with the pre-match arrangements. He also received a signed shirt and football.

“I shook hands with the teams, and as I walked back all the fans were clapping,” he says. “They looked after me very well.”

George has gained something of a reputation down the years for berating the referee’s assistants, formerly known as linesman – and he was doing it again on Saturday.

“It’s usually the old offside, when the -linesman’s well back and he doesn’t see it,” chuckles George. “I just remind him that he should keep up with the play.”

George was accompanied by his wife Betty, 89. His son Neil said his father was ticking a box on his ‘bucket list’.

Neil recalls: “He has supported Tonbridge Angels since he was relocated to Albert Road in 1958 as part of London overspill policies.

“He has spent the years berating players and unsuspecting officials alike – God help the linesman who incorrectly waved for an offside.

“But having survived the Normandy landings as a marine [in 1944] and been the Health and Safety Officer in the early years of the woeful Southern Railway affords this man an ear.

“Being a very private man, the family only discovered what he must have gone through in the war when he opened up during the 50th anniversary.

“He came from a very humble background in Lambeth and on leaving the Marines he earnt a wage as best he could – one inauspicious method was the ’round or two for a pound or two’ in south london’s boxing booths.

“Dad worked on the railways since 1947 and was always proud of ‘his industry’. He hated waste and vandalism, calling out stationmasters for having platform lights on during the day and serving ‘citizen arrests’ on vandals.

“When Beeching decimated the railway network in the mid-Sixties, dad was – and remained – furious and disappointed that they had let the public down.”

Neil says that Angels’ Fred Crump was a favourite player of his father. He remembers watching former England striker Malcolm Macdonald playing at left-back and ITV football pundit Brian Moore sitting on the touchline signing autographs.

The club paid tribute to their long-suffering fan in the match programme: “Like all mascots George does have a favourite current Angels player and that is top-scorer Nathan Elder.

“But of course George can go back further than most of us and lists Joe Carolan from the 1960s as the best player from the past.

“Our nonagenarian has been supporting the Angels for more years than he might care to remember but away from football he continues to enjoy a spot of gardening.

“Have a great day with us George, and here’s to many more years supporting the Angels!

George agrees that Elder is ‘a very good header of the ball’. He was asked to pick the man of the match and he chose ‘little Nicky Wheeler’, who scored on the day.

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