Podgy: the tributes and the flags

On tour, Podgy's flag for SAFC supporters in Willington

The death of George Summerside, Podgy to many people and Poledancer or Enigma (if not Podgy) when on the Ready to Go message boards, has touched many people.

George followed Sunderland, Durham Cricket Club and the England cricket team to any corner of the world that games took them.

The flags he made, for his own use and at the request of others, were regularly seen in TV coverage of football and cricket (the one pictured above was photographed during a heavy downpour in Mönchengladbach, on SAFC’s 2011 pre-season German tour). The tickets he miraculously acquired took many people to matches they would not otherwise have seen.

After we ran a brief tribute from Martin Emmerson at Salut! Sunderland on Tuesday, a dozen or more readers posted or sent me via the website contact form their own moving messages. At the last count there were more than 70 pages of memories and condolences at the SMB forum at Ready to Go.

Some of George’s globetrotting – and flag-making – exploits were recalled in more detail by Martin in an excellent BBC Radio Newcastle mini-obit that can be heard at this link. Martin knew him well and remembers George – on his way back from watching England in Bangladesh – joining him in the commentary box when Durham CCC played the MCC in Abu Dhabi in 2010.

And the latest message received here, overnight, came from Mark Bosher and read:

Firstly just wanted to echo your comments about Podgy Summerside. I lived four doors down from him for years until I left Sunderland and joined the Army. My dad played football with him and they were both firefighters together and my thoughts and my heart go out to Yvonne and the family. Podgy truly was a legend and there is just nothing to say other than RIP George, you will be sadly missed. Anyway, I looked on the SMB (Ready To Go) forum but I can’t leave a reply as it wont accept my email. They lads are trying to organise a tribute to Podgy at the SOL where everyone can bring a flag or a flag that he made. I wondered if you get involved somehow and get the word out as I feel it would be a fantastic and fitting tribute to a legend from Roker.

Others may be more up to date but my guess is that Sunderland AFC, which to my certain knowledge is generally very good in dealing with bereaved families of supporters, will come up with something, if it has not already done so. The SMB thread mentions that the club is aware of his death, a poster under the name of Nick666 reporting thus:

Just spoke to the club informing them that we may complete Georges idea to introduce the ‘Keep The Faith’ banner at the next game. Thought I would pass on this message (from Andrew Lisgo at SAFC): “On behalf of everyone at the club may I pass on our condolences to all of George’s family and friends – I know he travelled everywhere following the Lads.”

As seen - often - on TV

Among the superb thoughts expressed in the SMB thread, this – from a friend with the username of Andy Reids Love Chil (clearly no room for the final d, or the apostrophe for Reid’s) – was, for those of us who did not know Podgy but had seen his combative contributions to numerous debates, spot on:

It’s people like you (sorry to single you out) who I feel sorry for. Those who never met the kind, generous, all knowing, life and soul of every party, George and just knew the angry, winding people up persona that he was as Poledancer/Podgy/Enigma on ‘this f****** sad message board’.

And thanks to the supporter who posted a link to this story from the Sunderland Echo, published after that Bangladesh trip:

Howzat for spreading the word far and wide!

Cheeky cricket fan George Summerside has left three small businesses on Wearside bowled over after his home-made advertisements for them were seen by millions of TV viewers around the world.

His improvised hoardings for Pallion’s Marshall Murray Domestic Appliance Engineers, Lilians Blinds in Southwick, and Roker Tandoori were displayed alongside ads for some of the world’s biggest companies during international coverage of the England-Bangladesh test match in Chittagong.

It was while the 51-year-old, of Roker, was travelling with England’s so-called Barmy Army of fans to South Asia that he came up with idea to create the low-budget ads on bed sheets.

“Making them helped to pass the time, and it was a good laugh,” he said.

“I travel quite a bit to sporting events, and I’m a massive England cricket fan.

“The two firms are owned by good friends of mine, and the Roker Tandoori is my local curry house, so I thought I’d give them a bit of support and a spot of free advertising.

“The ads have been seen quite a few times on TV, and with Sky+ you can actually pause it and read them.”

The dad-of-two, a retired firefighter, said he had been inundated by calls from friends after they spotted the ads.

“I’ve done it before, but you can only get away with it in places like India and Bangladesh,” he said. “The ICC seem to clamp down on it elsewhere.”

George also managed to get a signed poster for staff at his favourite restaurant after meeting Bangladeshi Cricket Board director Shafiqur Rahman Munna on the trip earlier this year.

“I met him on the plane from Chittagong to Dhaka, and he couldn’t do enough for us, getting us accreditation passes for all areas,” said George.

“I got the poster signed by the Bangladeshi cricketers, and we had tea several times at the cricket. It was nice to feel VIP-ish.

“We also gave a lot of Barmy Army t-shirts to Mr Munna’s staff, and it was great to see them wearing them, all smiles.”

The poster has been donated to the Bangladeshi Centre in Hendon, where it will be put on show.

But most of all, I liked – and imagine, from what is now so widely known about George Summerside’s funny, big-hearted personality, that he would also have liked – this message from “Gettheloton”:

For those of you who believe in fate, Podgies Boy has just won the 3.55 at Southwell at 6/1. Horatio Carter ran in the same race.

Monsieur Salut
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