Saturday, 20 August 2011

Georgie Best ... Superstar

In the beginning was George Best. In my beginning anyway. Born in the sixties and growing up in the seventies, I was the right age for him.  Georgie was the first footballer I knew.
That said, he played for Man United who weren't my team. In the streets we'd sing "Georgie Best, superstar/ Walks like a woman and he wears a bra".
It was a backhanded compliment of course.  Best was the best footballer from the north of Ireland. And the best-known. He'd even turn up on the telly selling aftershave and even meat products.
I've been a vegetarian for years now but if someone says sausages I still think of Cookstown sausages. That's down to George.

I also wonder if my love of contemporary architecture started with that blocky house that he had built in Bramhall in Cheshire (not that he stayed there long).
More than any other footballers in the 1960s - in the way he played, on the field and off - he represented a very sixties modernism. And yet he still liked his mum's home cooking.
On the pitch the great disappointment is that he never got to play in the World Cup. In his biography Blessed he suggests there was a chance he could have made the 1982 Northern Ireland squad. He was 35, off the drink and given the option of joining Middlesbrough at the end of the previous year which would have given him the chance to get match fit.
Would he have fitted into Billy Bingham's squad? Possibly not. But given that he didn't choose to join the Boro and started drinking again it's possible he didn't want to find out.  The odd game for Bournemouth and the Brisbane Lions apart, he decided that his footballing story was already over.

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