Shock as popular Sunderland fan George is found dead

The leas at South Shields.
The leas at South Shields.
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TRIBUTES have been paid today to a dedicated sports fan who has died.

The body of football and cricket-mad George Summerside was found on the beach near the cliffs at Marsden Grotto, at about 8.10am yesterday.

George Summerside (left) with England cricketer Alastair Cook.

George Summerside (left) with England cricketer Alastair Cook.

The retired firefighter, from Roker, was known as Poledancer or Podgy on the Sunderland fans’ Ready to Go online forum, and by this morning there were almost 50 pages of comments from fellow supporters paying their respects.

Maccster31 wrote: “The bloke was a legend, a true helpful fella and done some stuff for me. Was always a pleasure to speak to. I hope you are at peace now. RIP.”

Dad-of-two George travelled the world following the England cricket side and Shinpad wrote: “Went to the Brisbane test back in 2006.

“Had a right carry on getting there, delayed flights from London etc.

“Anyway, after what seemed like days of travelling got to Brisbane night before the test, dumped the bags in the hotel and wandered out for a much needed pint.

“First pub we walked in hear this Mackem accent ringing out from the bar and here’s Podgy holding court as usual, like we’d just walked in The Howard Arms, not some random pub 1,2000 miles away. He was always there. RIP Podgy.”

Landlord of The Howard Arms Colin Burlinson said regulars had been devastated by news of George’s death.

“He was very well-known around the area, a good bloke.”

George hit the headlines while travelling with the Barmy Army in 2010, when his home-made adverts for three small businesses on Wearside 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 had viewers worldwide baffled during coverage of the England-Bangladesh test match in Chittagong.

George, then 51, said: “Making them helped to pass the time, and it was a good laugh.

“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.”

Police are not treating the death as suspicious.