Veteran Sunderland supporter George W Forster is to take in this year’s FA Cup final as a reward for his decades of loyal following of the Black Cats.
George, 91, has been involved with the work of the club’s official supporters association since its creation in the 1960s.
He was recently named the English Football League’s Championship Supporter of the Year at a ceremony in London.
Devoted George was honoured for going above and beyond to demonstrate his passion and commitment for the Black Cats over the decades.
And now thanks to online casino company PlayOJO and its “Football Fairness Package”, George has been handed tickets to next weekend’s showpiece FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium between Chelsea and Manchester United.
George was congratulated on being awarded the tickets at the Stadium of Light by former SAFC star Julio Arca, who played for non-league South Shields FC before announcing his retirement on Friday.
George will enjoy box seat tickets alongside his son-in-law as well as lunch ahead of the game.
“It’s a nice surprise for me,” said a delighted George, who was on the tens of thousands of Black Cats fans at Wembley in May 1973 when the club upset Leeds United to win the FA Cup.
“It was a wonderful experience when I was named supporter of the year and be recognised after all of these years.
“I had a great time going along to collect the award but this is even better.
“Because it’s not Sunderland playing I can just enjoy the game without any pressure and hopefully it’s a good match.
“I won’t wear red like I usually do though in case people think I’m a Manchester United supporter!”
George will be supporting his beloved team in the third tier of English football for only the second time in the club’s history following a second successive relegation.
But disillusioned owner Ellis Short is in the process of selling the club to a consortium headed by Stewart Donald, who hopes to get the Wearsiders back in the top flight as soon as possible.
Julio, who has just announced his retirement from playing with South Shields and says he will move into coaching, said: “It’s special to see people like George who have supported clubs so passionately and for so long being rewarded like this.
“This is how clubs survive, by having loyal supporters such as him through both good times and bad.
“When things go right here, this stadium is very loud and hopefully sooner rather than later they are back getting crowds of 48,000 again.”
A spokesman for PlayOJO said: “It’s been a very unfair season for George.
“His team is one of just five to have faced double relegation in the entire English footballing history, but through his work as chairman of the Sunderland AFC Supporters’ Association he continually demonstrates his dedication and commitment to the club.
“Our mission at PlayOJO is to fight unfairness and that’s why we are proud to reward his efforts with tickets to one of the biggest games in the English football calendar.”