Last night I met Stan – also known as George the First – and his gang of friends. You would probably have already spotted them on TV, or seen their photos in the newspapers after an England match. They are the group of men all dressed up as St George, the knight in shining armour.
In fact, I didn’t realise it for about three hours, but this was the second time we had met, after bumping into each other at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Since then, when they first started dressing up, they have become the most famous visual icons of English football fans as they travel the world and bring their own special touch of English eccentricity to every match, home and away.
They told me several stories of the crazy episodes they have got into since 2006, which are so funny. They have been compiled in a book that is being released this week in the UK. These are not your typical England fans. For starters, Stan has no club team in the UK. He only supports England – the first time I have ever met anyone like that in 35 years of following football.
He is also the kindest, friendliest man I have ever met. He spends 40 per cent of his time posing for photographs with strangers. And while that might seem insignificant, just imagine trying to watch a match or having a conversation, when you are constantly being interrupted… every minute, every day.
But David Stanfield loves it, because he loves people, and is on a one-man mission to enjoy himself and make everyone happy. He says he charges everyone to take a photo with him… and the cost is a smile. The best English fan ever!
‘By George: Hilarious Tales from England’s Most Fanatical Football Supporters’ by David ‘Stan’ Stanfield is scheduled for release on June 27.