George Best Remembered

Posted: November 25, 2015 in Football, Manchester United
Tags: , , , , ,

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During the 1960’s I was lucky enough to go to Old Trafford every other week. I say lucky enough but, apart from in 1967 when they won the title, I didn’t see a very successful team but I did see a lot of very entertaining football.

Those were the days of Best, Law and Charlton, the three remembered more than any others for the attacking football United fans still crave to this day. It should be noted though, that United had other internationals in that team. Harry Gregg played for Northern Ireland, Shay Brennan and Tony Dunne were both international full backs. Nobby Stiles, still remembered from England’s world cup winning team and David Sadler was another occasional international. Pat Crerand was a regular for Scotland and even David Herd managed 5 caps

There were other players who didn’t achieve international status because, in those days, the majority of clubs had eleven British players so there was more competition for each of the home countries.

My favourite was always Denis Law for two very simple reasons. Firstly he is Scottish, as was my father and, secondly he had blond hair, as did I. Law was the king of Old Trafford and was hero worshipped from the terraces.

Hot on his heels though was a young player from Belfast called George Best. Best had broken into the first team too late to be part of United’s cup winning team in 1963, but now he was starting to get noticed.

He quickly became the favourite of a lot of United fans. Incredible balance with the ability to beat defenders at will. Add to this the ability to score goals with both feet and his head and you had the complete player. He was two footed in a way that Ronaldo will never be. His ability to head the ball was far above anything Messi could produce.

Messi is the closest player to Best these days, He also has excellent balance and can glide past players, he scores goals with both feet although I would guess that, for every goal he scores with his right foot, there are ten he scores with his left. He can also score headed goals but these are few and far between.

In the sixties George Best became known as the fifth Beatle because of his long hair and pop-star lifestyle. He was the first real superstar of football. Unfortunately he was misguided, ill-advised and massively taken advantage of by so-called friends.

A brilliant career was cut short by his love of alcohol. Later on, the prospect of a decent life would be cut short by alcohol.

George Best’s most famous retort was to the question, “What happened to all the money?” when he said, “Well, I spent a lot on booze, birds and fast cars, the rest I just squandered!” There was also the time when a hotel porter was delivering champagne to Best’s hotel room. On entering he saw Miss World lying on the bed and money scattered all over the place, (Best had had a very good night at the casino). He put the champagne on the table and left, scratching his head and saying to himself, “Where did it all go wrong?”

Here’s 33 of Bestie’s quotes, (including one of the two I have just used), for anyone wanting a laugh!

I had the pleasure of meeting Best in Portugal in 1992. He was drinking but, at the time, I thought he looked reasonably healthy. He knew nothing about me of course and it would have surprised him, no doubt, to learn of the times I stood in the Stretford End, all those years before, watching him score incredible goals on a regular basis. Very few of which will ever be seen again as the Match of the Day cameras were only there occasionally, and it was only then that the goals were recorded.

There are still some great clips of Best and what he did for United and Northern Ireland, but I have a lot more memories than there are clips, and I can remember a lot of goals, quite vividly, that will never be seen again.

I remember George Best exactly the way George Best wanted to be remembered. As an entertainer who, for an all too brief period, was the best in the world at what he did.

Finally, just a word on the “United fan” interviewed outside Vicarage Road, who claims to have been a fan for thirty years but has never heard of George Best. Go and support another team. I certainly don’t want somebody who has never heard of United’s greatest player associated with them. I really don’t believe he has been a fan for that amount of time. People who have been fans for thirty minutes know who George Best was. Time for this clown to either come clean or clear off.

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Comments
  1. Alan says:

    Great read. Would have loved if you’d described some of those vivid memories of goals for those of us who weren’t around to see him live and only have overused video footage to go on. My Dad talks a lot about George and with some ease and comfort like he knew him personally. That’s the impression I always get when I hear about Best. That he wasn’t just a great footballer but a good guy too. I’ve been a united fan since day one. I’m 32 and have known about George Best all my life. It would be impossible to not know who he was regardless of who you support. If you like the game, you know who he is. You’d have to have been living under a rock not to know. Simple as that. Great read though fair play. You should do another one.

    As a footnote. My grate uncle, Billy Whelan, was supposed to be the next best thing for United way back when but he was tragically killed in the plane crash. Another sad story of a potential brilliant career cut short.

    Like

    • Thanks Alan. I just missed the Busby babes as I was only a year old when the disaster happened, but my father would tell me all about the players from that era. If I can find time I will certainly do another piece about George Best because his appeal is timeless.

      Like

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