The camel-coated brigade



Tis a somber Sugarman who writes today. George Best’s last breath draws ever nearer and the specter of mortality loiters over one of footballs true magicians. Nobody can genuinely condone Best’s wasted ‘second chance’ and even I’m not going to try. 

As we speak his SECOND alcohol soaked liver is on its last legs, a liver which COULD have ended up in the body of a desperately ill child, a teenager, a parent with everything to live for, you, me ANYONE OF US, could one day be desperately in need of such a transplant. However, in an age where money talks, George got the liver, drank the drink and the rest is (almost) history. What’s done is done. Let us not dwell on that. 

Best was a genius. Period. I don’t NEED to go on about his footballing prowess. I don’t need to go on about ‘that’ goal, or ‘that’ performance or remind anyone who saw him in the flesh or via footage just HOW GOOD he was. PELE said Best was the best player in the world. Maybe Maradonna aside, I doubt anyone could build an argument to genuinely establish otherwise. 

So, if I’m not going to go on about his drinking, or his football, what else is there? Women? Again, it’d be easy to go on about Bestie’s prowess with the fairer sex. Tales of George’s liking of “screwing” are infamous, just ask Terry Wogan. How many times have we Best reply to the question ‘Did you ever go missing George?’ with the line “yeah....Miss Uk....Miss Great Britain.....Miss Universe” etc. etc. 

Thus if we take away George Best’s Drinking, football and womanizing some might suggest we’ve done the reapers job for him and taken away the man, his spirit, his Soul. The Sugarman however, would suggest otherwise. 

I believe that the three main things mentioned above that we associate with George Best have, to some extent at least, detracted from one of his even greater qualities. I’ll explain. Sir Walter Scott, the famous novelist and poet, (the bloke who wrote ‘Ivanhoe’ ‘Rob Roy’ and ‘The Heart of Midlothian’ and stuff like that) gets loads of praise because of his ability to treat everybody fairly. Regardless of class, religion, politics or ancestry. 

Scott was able to write in such a way that he highlighted the need for social progress whilst at the same time, he didn’t reject the traditions of the past. Scott was the first major novelist to portray Peasants and ‘common folk’ in a sympathetic way. He basically portrayed people’s lives in a frank and honest fashion.

In all the footage, books and countless articles I’ve read on George Best, a similar pattern emerges. Best was (sorry, is) a people person. A working class lad from a community SO divisive because of religion and politics, how many times have you heard Best even mention his views on God, King Billy, The Queen, Catholic, protestant or whatever? 


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I can’t remember a single occasion. George mixed with all classes too. From a young age he was the toast of Manchester and London’s social elite, but he was also equally at home in the working men’s pubs and clubs. Frank, honest, sometimes brutal in his assessment of people.....but, like Sir Walter Scott, almost always fair.

You’re going to read a lot about George Best over the next 72 hours, some will be wonderful in its praise and appreciation of the man, some will be scathing criticism of his ‘wasted talent’. They’ll be stories of goals, girls, champagne, and sadness. Football, women, and that one vice ....drink. 

Unfortunately, you’ll probably read very little that isn’t hidden by the tabloid caricature that Best tragically became. Very little about his ability to transcend the boundaries of Class, politics and religion. Very little about that other important aspect of his life that made him great. 

When the clock stops for George Best in the next few days the vast majority of all the things he SHOULD be remembered for, all his good and great qualities are going to be overshadowed by his one major vice, drink. And, as Sir Walter Scott once said ‘of all vices, drinking is the most incompatible with greatness’. Good night God Bless George. 


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