It’s already been quite a full life for 85-year-old Janus “George” Wagonback – and that’s before becoming a record-breaker at Betfred.
He wagered just THREE PENCE, on an astonishing ten-fold football accumulator, and won £2,686.04.
That places grandfather-of-three George in Betfred folklore, as nobody in living memory can remember anyone winning so much from such a small stake.
He bet there would be draws in ten games between Millwall-Preston, Wimbledon-Cheltenham, Bradford-Leyton Orient, Colchester-Rochdale, Swindon-Crawley, Dundee-Dundee United, Hibernian-Hearts, Ross County-Aberdeen, St Mirren-Motherwell – and the World Cup Qualifier between Lebanon-Iraq!
After pocketing his amazing windfall, George, who placed his bet at the Betfred shop on Low Street in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, gave a clue to his secret formula.
“I always go for draws because that’s how matches begin. It’s what you start with – and in Scotland there always seems to be more draws,” he said.
George, who is something of a keep-fit fanatic who always walks the mile from his home to the Betfred shop where he is known for doing regular push-ups on chairs, became a political refugee after leaving his home city of Budapest, Hungary at just 20 years of age during the uprising of 1956 when Russian troops took to the streets.
He had already played football at a decent level in his home country at a time when Ferenc Puskás was the star of the all-conquering Hungary team that famously beat England 6-3 at Wembley in 1953.
On arrival in England, George, who was already a qualified toolmaker, got himself a job as a fitter within a week, got married and had a daughter.
He played tournament chess, representing Mansfield Chess Club – and was known for his expert tactic, reintroducing the King’s Gambit opening move.
He was also into body-building, mastered through his strict exercise and diet regime that in 1969 saw him crowned “Mr Nottingham”.
“George” celebrating his record-breaking win with a bottle of champers
“I’ve had some significant wins on the football over the years, much bigger than this one,” he added. “But then again, I usually bet more than 3p which is basically loose change that I had in my pocket.”
“I took about two hours studying the fixtures and left it late to get to the shop to get my bet on because the Lebanon game kicked off at noon. I was confident the Scottish games would all be draws, as they often are up there.
“I didn’t know I’d won, until I checked the paper the next day. I did feel good, but can’t jump around much these days – only little jumps!”
After finding out about the remarkable win, Betfred boss Fred Done spoke to George and arranged for some complimentary champagne.
He said: “I have always been a winner because I set my mind to achieve things. My ambition is to skin Betfred for a million!
“I look after myself, and eat a lot of wheat germ and sardines two or three times a week. For breakfast, I have ground nuts and dried fruits.
“My family will get some of the money. I haven’t really treated myself as I’m happy as I am exercising – and eating and drinking whatever I want at any time that suits me.”
Betfred boss Fred said: “George, a Betfred regular for years has my heartfelt congratulations.
“I’ve been in this business for over 50 years, and cannot remember anyone winning so much from just three pence. It is a truly remarkable win, with him beating odds of virtually 90,000/1.”
Read about other big winners at Betfred