'True gentleman' of SAFC George retires after 60 years as tunnel steward
Sunderland AFC has honoured a very special member of staff, as tunnel steward George Baker retired after an incredible 60 years at the club.
George, 87, started his duties at Roker Park in 1959, when Alan Brown was manager and Charlie Hurley was a young defender. George has been a mainstay of the club’s match day operation ever since.
Described as “much loved and respected by everyone at Sunderland AFC”, George has managed the players’ tunnel and dressing room areas on a match day, first at Roker, then at the Stadium of Light when it opened in 1997. He also looked after the referee and match officials before and after games.
Over six decades he has seen the highs and lows of life at the club from very close quarters – and has a story or two to tell.
On arrival at the stadium before Sunderland’s game against Wycombe Wanderers, George, accompanied by his wife Mildred and other members of his family, was greeted by a guard of honour formed by club stewards.
He was then taken to the boardroom, where he was the club’s special guest for the day.
Before kick-off, George accompanied the match officials onto the pitch, carrying the match ball with him. He then joined the players and officials for the pre-match handshakes, before taking his seat in the directors’ box to watch the game.
George was presented with the match by club captain Grant Leadbitter as a memento of the day.
Club chairman Stewart Donald said: “It is people such as George that make this football club so very special.
“To have given 60 years’ of service is quite incredible and we are delighted to be able to give George a special send-off as a token of our immense gratitude.”
Club ambassador Kevin Ball added: “Everyone in football knows and loves George, he’s an absolute legend.
“I have had the pleasure of knowing him personally for many years. He’s a true gentleman and a wonderful servant of Sunderland AFC.
“He’s also a very unassuming man and won’t be expecting any of this today. But I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more”.