City fan from San Diego returning for Anfield rematchJESTER GEORGE is all smiles again today after bookie Betfred came to the rescue to pay for his 11,000 –mile round trip to see his heroes Exeter City in their biggest match for a decade.
The club’s super fan – real name George Smith – lives with his wife Monica and family in California. He flew over to watch the FA Cup game against Liverpool in front of a capacity 8,000 crowd at St James Park earlier this month when Exeter were 17 minutes of pulling off the giant-killing shock of the third round.
The League Two club, who were leading 2-1 at the interval were pegged back by the Premier League giants who equalised through Australian starlet Brad Smith to set up Wednesday’s replay at Anfield…a match George was destined to miss.
He said: “I thought we were on the road to Wembley and then they drew level. It was a double blow for me – Liverpool scoring and me knowing I couldn’t afford to come back for the biggest match since we played Manchester United in our non-league days ten years ago.
“I was desperate to get to Anfield of course. It would be nightmare to miss a game at a place like that. I always used to go to Betfred when I was at university in Bristol and then I noticed the bookie had sponsored Exeter’s shorts against Liverpool which was a great gesture and gives us much needed revenue.
“I took a chance and wrote to Betfred whose boss Fred I had read is a huge football fan – and within 48 hours his people told me to book the plane and train ticket which will come to about £600. It is an unbelievably kind thing to do and once I get to Liverpool the first thing I will do is get on Exeter to win on pens which is 33/1 with Betfred.”
George, 32 who sets off from his San Diego home today on his mammoth journey is known by football fans on both sides of the Atlantic as Jester George because of his madcap red and white Jester-style headgear.
The financial analyst was studying maths at Bristol when he met Mexican-American Monica who was on a law course – and emigrated to America because she was missing the sunshine and her family.
George, who has been an Exeter City fanatic since he was 12 and remains a member of the supporters’ trust which runs the club, said: “Those were her two loves and I only agreed to come and live over here if I could fly back if we reached the third round of the FA cup…but not necessarily twice in a month!
“Monica must have known what was coming because when we were at university I went to see Exeter at Old Trafford, a trip she described as mad. In fact that’s what they all think about me over here. In the bars when I dress up for matches they all think the red and white is for Man United, Southampton or Sunderland and I am forever explaining I am an Exeter fan which they never understand.”
He added: “Monica might have been missing the sunshine but for me it’s the regular match day experience I miss most of all about England …getting a bet on, having a beer, watching Exeter and having another beer to celebrate or commiserate. Sunday’s home defeat by Manchester United isn’t good for us because Liverpool will be all guns blazing on Wednesday and won’t want to be dumped out of the cup. I do fancy our chances however of going through after extra time and pens!”
Betfred boss Fred Done said: “I’m delighted to be a position to help this fella who is obviously a dedicated and very optimistic fan of his local team. Good luck to him, I hope he has an enjoyable trip with memories that will last him a life time.”
Betfred have Liverpool 3/10 favourites to win in 90 minutes with Exeter 10/1. To win in extra time Betfred have Exeter at 40/1 and Liverpool 8/1 while George’s prediction of Exeter to go through to the fourth round on penalties where they would face West Ham at home is 33/1.