GUEST BLOG: My tribute to George Best

Georgie, Georgie, they call you the Belfast Boy
Georgie, Georgie, they call you the Belfast Boy
Georgie, Georgie, keep your feet on the ground
Georgie, Georgie, when you listen to the sound
Georgie, Georgie, put a light on your name

April 1970

My mums annual road trip to Harrods in fancy-schmancy Knightsbridge to buy peanut butter, brandy snaps and assorted crap was a bloody long drive all the way from Mevagissey, Cornwall but we were well on the way at last. Her metallic gun metal grey Sunbeam Rapier Fastback was belting up the old A38 sometimes touching 65 m.p.h. Ironically at the same time I would be touching a turtle’s head due to her erratic driving :-O

While it’s quite true that she was a member of the Advanced School of Motoring, and accordingly the Sunbeams’ front grill was adorned with a shiny yellow badge to prove membership, back in those days a ‘Roadcraft’ practical test and basic exam wasn’t too close to a guarantee of an excrement-free road trip. I am jesting, though. As I recall, Mumsy was quite a decent driver, although she did frequently exhibit an early type of road-rage to fellow road users. Up until the age of 12, as far as I knew, the most popular car on the road was the Vauxhall Stupid Bastard.

This year, though, I couldn’t have cared less about her driving, nor any other road users and not even did I care about Harrods’ seemingly endless toy department goodies or the smorgasbord of indescribable Swedish foodstuffs in the food hall. This year I was going to see my idol, Georgie Best. THE George Best. The Belfast Boy. El Beatle. This was the man that Bob Bishop referred to in a telegram sent to Matt Busy which read, “I think I’ve found you a genius”. And to hell with stopping at Stonehenge, I was on the way to London to see a proper legend!

Oh sweet Jesus, can you imagine what Bob Bishop must have seen and thought on that lumpy and muddy Glentoran pitch? I reckon Mr Bishop went home that night and his Mrs was on the end of some sweet Bobby Bishop lovin’!

THE man himself (not Bob) was in London to open a sports shop (I think somewhere near the Kings Road) I knew this because Georgie’s fan club told me so some weeks before in the most exciting letter I had ever received. And then, for an eternity leading up to the long drive to the smoke of Londinium, I was incredibly excited. Mum had definitely, absolutely definitely positively said we could go – she had given me life 11 years before and now she said I could go and see Georgie so her angelic status in my eyes reached new heights.

Unfortunately, the majority of local kids hated me because my parents had a bit of money. That wasn’t my fault, of course. But kids, especially mean kids don’t know that. All they see is a new car in town, a posh house and good school shoes. Also, unknowingly exacerbating my problem, I would also sport a pair of bright white ‘green flash’ plimsolls on the weekend and was soundly thrashed for doing so by a boy named Septimus Shitface (name changed for legal reasons).

If I only knew where he lived now; in my dream, I would knock on his door, he would open it and fail to recognise me 46 years on and I would bitch-slap his ugly fat face. Then my alarm would go off!

As a young lad living in a tiny fishing village, post 1966, while all the locals followed either Leed$, We$t H@m, Chel$ea or Totteringham (instead of Exeter City, Plymouth Argyle or Mevagissey Town), when you supported United it was very much frowned upon; particularly by the bullies. I suppose they were an early version of today’s ABU crowd. To$$ers then; to$$ers now.

My Manchester United wristwatch did me no favours, either. I soon learned that I had to wear long sleeves to cover my timepiece if I was not to risk having it removed by Septimus and his mates. As well as this, my George Best purple and black football boots were magnificent and people were very jealous. The boots were laced up the sides in a never-before-seen state of the art design; during games I had to endure several dozen foot stamps from the other boys, the absolute $hits!

In my other dream I would see all of them in one place, perhaps tightly packed in an old-school GPO red phone box. I would open the door to them, throw in 2 gallons of thick, meaty gravy and promptly add 27 angry, rabid rats and quickly barricade the door. That would be too good for them, though. I mean, who doesn’t hate a bully?

Meanwhile, back in the Kings Road: Mum parked the car a few streets away from the sports shop and we walked to the entrance. I was already uber-excited and soon I could hear an obvious kerfuffle from over a hundred yards away; as we approached I saw the front and sides of the premises were cordoned off by lots of metal barriers. There was probably around 200 people outside the shop, many spilling into the road but to me it seemed like thousands –mostly girls of course- and unbeknown to me at my tender age, they would all be gloriously moist with the anticipation of seeing Georgie in the flesh.

Little did I know, but a couple of years later I would be sitting with Miss Wendy W***t in the back row of the St. Austell picture house on a Saturday morning and while the Lone Ranger was rescuing Tonto from the bad guys I would touch her most inappropriately – well, it was very appropriate for me at the time, but probably not for Wendy’s dad; I suppose it may not have been that appropriate for Wendy, but she never said a word indicating that might be the case. Bless her. And FYI for the record, there was moisture. After Wendy I moved onto to Mary Pink**. Now THAT was some serious moisture! Major moisture! Blimey! There wasn’t enough Kleenex in all of Cornwall J

Back to Georgie. We hung around the front of the shop for what seemed like hours; the throng of girls in mini-skirts and the accompanying pungent whiff of Mary Quant lippy and eyeliner. Next thing I knew there were screams piercing through my lugholes like when I saw Slade at the Brighton dome a few years later. A fabulous white Lotus Europa pulled up to the kerb and out stepped my idol. In my head I’m sure I heard angels sing. My ears were ringing from the screaming but my eyes told me that George stood right there, about 30 feet in front of me, on the kerb, smiling and waving looking very much like the fifth Beatle I had read about and seen on tv.

From the passenger side – I think it was Susan George -but it might have been the reigning Miss World- exiting the car -the other was probably at home waiting- and the young lady walked around and took his arm. She was also smiling and posing and wearing a white shirt and good God almighty, no brassiere! The glorious sixties might have passed but some statements lived on and for a nano-second my gaze was caught up in some serious nipplage :-O

They both stood there for just a few minutes while the local press took dozens of photos; a handful of policemen a few feet apart held back all the collective moisture. There was no warning of flash photography in those days and for all we knew, epileptics dropped left, right and centre. A million flash bulbs popped. It was intensely exciting; I had never experienced anything like this in my young life. Sadly, though, It was all over very quickly. My quest to get nearer to him or into the shop for an autograph was completely futile. The bitches were too numerous, there was too much damp and it was all due to Georgie, his impossible handsome-ness clearly meant that the Ho’s came before the young Bro’s.

It didn’t matter too much to me though; I had at least seen him in the flesh. It was only a few weeks before that he had scored 6 in an 8-2 victory over Northampton Town in the 5th round of the F.A. cup. This was the legend that was Georgie Best.

When you’re under 10 and from a tiny Cornish village, and you see George Best in the headlines and on the telly – I think that was the year ITV ran the hour-long documentary ‘Belfast Boy’ – and you see that Lotus, and you see that house in Manchester with the glass frontage; when you see the fuss surrounding him and his club your head is totally turned. You’re not interested in other footballers like Billy Bremner, or John Bond or Ron Harris.

We all recall Beckham scoring against Wimbledon; at the time he was stepping out every night with Mrs P. Spice wearing God knows what and attending the opening of envelopes all over the U.K. –so it seemed- and there was a right bloody fuss almost every day. In the nineties people were used to fuss.

But, in the late sixties it was almost unheard of – especially in football. A lot of kids became United fans back then and that’s partly why the fan base is unmatched in this country and across the world.

We miss you Georgie.

By Dave Cleaver

Paul Gardiner

Webmaster, Writer, Editor and Podcast host for The United Stand. An avid Manchester United supporter since I can remember.

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