Former Royal Marine George Plowman was on his best behaviour on the last day of the season as the oldest matchday mascot in the history of Tonbridge Angels and possibly the Ryman League!
Normally found on the terraces berating players and unsuspecting officials alike since storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day to help liberate Nazi-occupied Europe, the 90-year-old supporter led Steve McKimm’s side out at the Longmead Stadium for their 2-1 win over Worthing after the Ryman Premier club paid tribute to his loyalty and life story in the matchday programme.
The Angels say they were “proud and delighted” to help the veteran, who turns 91 on June 3 and has supported them since being relocated to the Kent town in 1958 as part of the London over-spill policies, tick off another box on his ‘bucket list’ of remaining ambitions on Saturday.
The pensioner’s long-suffering wife Betty was also at the fixture as a special guest. Unlike her husband of 69 years, she has no interest in football but was still treated like royalty on as the club honoured a real life local hero and club legend for expressing his forthright views!
A club spokesman said: “Normally match mascots average around nine years of age not 90, so we believe this may be some kind of record. George has a wealth of memories about the club, most of which are beyond the span of most other supporters.
“Like all mascots, he has a favourite current Angels player, top scorer Nathan Elder but of course 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 and here’s to many more years!”
The veteran supporter’s son Neil Plowman reckoned seeing his dad barracking during matches was a common sight while he was growing up and making a living working on the railways.
Ahead of the club’s sixth-placed finish at the weekend, he said: “God help the linesman who incorrectly waved for an incorrect offside! Having survived Normandy and the early years of woeful Southern Railways health and safety affords this man an ear.
“He came from a very humble background in Lambeth and on leaving the Royal Marines, earned 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 and would call out stationmasters for having platform lights on during the day.”
He added: “I’ve been proud of my dad all his life – we had difficult upbringings but he’s always strived to do his best for his family.”
* As part of the club’s end of season celebrations at the weekend, Angels boss McKimm refereed a lunchtime match between their disability side and Maidstone United before guiding his senior stars to their win over the Rebels.