'It was electric' - Hartlepool United's rivalry with Darlington recalled following death of flamboyant George Reynolds
A radio personality has paid tribute to “larger than life character” George Reynolds after the safecracker turned millionaire’s death.
Mr Reynolds was owner of Darlington Football Club at a time when the rivalry with neighbours Hartlepool United “was at its peak”, recalls Hartlepool presenter Paul “Goffy” Gough.
This led to regular banter between them on Century Radio’s Goffy in the Morning show.
Goffy has now said: “It is really sad. He was a big part of my Goffy in the Morning show on Century for 10 years at a time when the rivalry between Hartlepool United and Darlington was at its peak.
"David Hodgson was in charge there, Chris Turner was in charge here, there was that play-off semi-final in 2000. It was electric and may never be the same again.”
Born in Sunderland in 1936, Mr Reynolds was jailed before rebuilding his life by founding several successful businesses, including Shildon-based Direct Worktops, and even appearing in the Sunday Times Rich list.
With typical modesty, his business card read: “Gentleman, entrepreneur, adventurer, maker of money and utter genius.”
Despite winning that feisty semi-final 3-0 on aggregate and building the 25,000-capacity Reynolds Arena, he failed to take Darlington up the Football League and left before the club’s eventual demotion to the non-league pyramid.
A return to prison also followed after he was convicted of tax evasion before he opened a pie shop and vape shop.
Goffy, now working at BBC Radio Tees, added: “You can only speak as you can find and he was a larger than life character who was only too willing to help charitable causes.
"He also spoke fondly of Hartlepool and the relationship he enjoyed with the fans.
"I remember when I hosted an event at the Borough Hall to mark the club’s centenary. I’m on stage with Jeff Stelling and Chris Kamara and everything stops when George suddenly appears 10 minutes late and walks in front of the tables.
"Everything had to stop because everyone wanted to have a word with him and started singing ‘there’s only one George Reynolds’.
"He was the belle of the ball and he would have loved that moment.”