GEORGE REYNOLDS last night told of his brush with death on a County Durham road and praised the Good Samaritan who stopped to help him.

The 82-year-old former chairman of Darlington Football Club was driving near Bowburn on Sunday lunchtime when his car was involved in a collision with a tractor.

“I don’t know how we weren’t killed,” he said. “We were spun round and I thought ‘we’re goners here’.

“I have been a bit of a boy in my time but I don’t think I have been nearer to death than Sunday.”

Mr Reynolds praised the secondary schoolteacher who was travelling behind him and witnessed the horror unfold.

He said: “She was wonderful. I was lathered in blood from the head down and she put handkerchiefs and wipes on me. She helped my passenger, who was semi-conscious, and she cancelled her Sunday dinner to stay with us for two hours. She was marvellous.”

Mr Reynolds, of Nevilles Cross, and Mark Harding, of Willington, who are both in the vaping business, had been looking at sites for a new luxury log cabin venture when the accident happened. He said his car, a six-month-old VW Passat, had been written off.

The schoolteacher has asked not to be named because of her job. She said: “I pulled over and I thought I was going to see something far worse than I did. George had a head wound, and as the airbags hadn’t gone off, he was very, very lucky – incredibly lucky.”

She modestly downplayed Mr Reynolds’ praise, saying: “He was a gentleman in his eighties, very shaken, bleeding heavily – he needed someone to talk to him and keep him calm until he could get to hospital, so I did nothing unusual.”

But she added: “There was a queue of cars behind me and I was surprised that no one else stopped.”

Mr Reynolds said: “To get a compliment from me is better than getting an Iron Cross from the Germans or a Victoria Cross from the British because we don’t give many out.”

It is the latest instalment in a remarkable career in which he rose from humble roots in Sunderland to own a multi-million chipboard business in Shildon and be ranked 112th in the Sunday Times rich list with a fortune of £250m. In 1999, he bought the football club, cleared its £5m debts and built the 25,000 seater stadium on the edge of Darlington. However, in 2005 he was jailed for three years for tax evasion.

After treatment on Sunday, he and Mr Harding were released from University of Durham Hospital.

“My head’s a right mess,” he said. “I went into the windscreen and now I look like a unicorn with a great lump on my brow.”