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George Best


Guest Stephen Turner

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Guest Stephen Turner

Football legend George (Georgie) Best died today aged 60. I saw Bestie play on many occasions, and he was without doubt the most naturally talented footballer Britian ever produced. RIP George B)

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Football legend George (Georgie) Best died today aged 60. I saw Bestie play on many occasions, and he was without doubt the most naturally talented footballer Britian ever produced. RIP George B)

I agree, but that was his problem. Others had to work very hard to develop the skills that they had. "Gazza" is another one who has suffered from this problem. Stan Bowles was another one. To a lesser extent, Rodney Marsh fell into this category. Easy come, easy go. When you spend your career developing your skills, you automatically establish self-sdiscipline. Best and the others never did this. They over-indulged in everything they did. They were incapable of taking the long-view. As a result they wasted their talent. In Best's case, it brought an early end to his career and, eventually his life. Yes, he gave us a lot of pleasure, but so did Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton. I know I felt much sadder when Bobby Moore died than I do today. After all, Best committed suicide, Moore died of cancer.

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Guest Stephen Turner

John, I am certainly not blind to the many character flaws George had, He was for example an absolute caveman in his attitude towards to Women. But lets not forget that alcoholism is an illness, and one over which Best appeared to have little control. I tend to the saying "There, but for the grace of guiness go I"

The other great shame is that he never appeared in a World Cup, and so was denied the chance to show his talents on the biggest stage of all.

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Football legend George (Georgie) Best died today aged 60. I saw Bestie play on many occasions, and he was without doubt the most naturally talented footballer Britian ever produced. RIP George :cheers

I agree, but that was his problem. Others had to work very hard to develop the skills that they had. "Gazza" is another one who has suffered from this problem. Stan Bowles was another one. To a lesser extent, Rodney Marsh fell into this category. Easy come, easy go. When you spend your career developing your skills, you automatically establish self-sdiscipline. Best and the others never did this. They over-indulged in everything they did. They were incapable of taking the long-view. As a result they wasted their talent. In Best's case, it brought an early end to his career and, eventually his life. Yes, he gave us a lot of pleasure, but so did Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton. I know I felt much sadder when Bobby Moore died than I do today. After all, Best committed suicide, Moore died of cancer.

Rather puritanical John don't you think? Alcoholism is a disease not a suicide strategy.

One of the reasons characters like George Best remain so popular despite repeated personal character flaws, prison spells, broken pledges etc. etc. is that they display rather extreme versions of the problems many of us have in the troubled journey through life. The best you can say about George is that he did it all with great self deprecating humour. How many of us can realistically claim the same?

I am not old enough to have watched George Best play football at his peak, I remember a few games for Fulham (I think it was) and then Hibernian (??) and then the States. Even to the tail end of his career already troubled and slowed by alcoholism I'd rather watch him play than any of the worthy plodders John lists.

I for one will be raising a glass to Georgie Best this evening :maggieJ

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I am old enough (four years older than George) to remember his perfomance as a young man. What a footballer he was! My wife Sally (who is also from Belfast) and I raised a glass of Bushmill's 10 year-old Irish whiskey yesterday evening in his memory.

I hope George's wish for an All-Ireland football team comes true. There is all All-Ireland rugby team, but the divisions in football are more deeply ingrained. It would be a fitting tribute to George if they could be overcome.

Footnote: We are an All-Ireland family. My wife is a Protestant from the North (Belfast) and our sister-in-law is a Catholic from the South (Co Cork). Just to complicate matters, my brother and I are half-Welsh. We all get on very well!

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As an example of our cultural myopia on this side of the pond, I had never heard of Best before he passed. (BEckham is the only name in British football I know)

Yet his story sounds very similar to that of Mickey Mantle, the Yank Yankee who played baseball.

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Raymond writes:

As an example of our cultural myopia on this side of the pond, I had never heard of Best before he passed.

That's probably because Best was at his peak during the Dark Ages, i.e before any North American had heard of "soccer" ("football" to us Brits), the most popular ball game on earth - although Best did play in the USA for a few years in the 1970s. It's good to see the USA playing a respectable game of football now. The US team did very well in the 2002 World Cup, reaching the quarter finals. They have some good home-grown players.

I don't know much about baseball. My experience is limited to watching one game at Enron Field, Houston, Texas, four years ago - a bit slow, I thought, although I recall some spectacular catches and two impressive home runs scored by the Astros.

The name Mickey Mantle does ring a bell. Some of my Canadian relatives are baseball fans and there's a pub I often visit in Vancouver that attracts big crowds during major league games - although ice hockey is really THE game in the frozen north.

Question - one that I read in a book by Bill Bryson (who IS American): Why does the USA talk about World Cup Baseball when only two nations play the game seriously? Only kidding - no offence intended.

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Rather puritanical John don't you think? Alcoholism is a disease not a suicide strategy.

One of the reasons characters like George Best remain so popular despite repeated personal character flaws, prison spells, broken pledges etc. etc. is that they display rather extreme versions of the problems many of us have in the troubled journey through life. The best you can say about George is that he did it all with great self deprecating humour. How many of us can realistically claim the same?

I am not old enough to have watched George Best play football at his peak, I remember a few games for Fulham (I think it was) and then Hibernian (??) and then the States. Even to the tail end of his career already troubled and slowed by alcoholism I'd rather watch him play than any of the worthy plodders John lists.

If it is puritanical to be against alcohol abuse, then I have to confess to the crime. One of the reasons that we face so many problems caused by alcohol abuse is that so many of the adult population think that drinking to excess is a bit of a laugh. Let us hope that George’s early death will be a warning to other young athletes not to follow his example.

I saw Best play many times. I also saw the other great players I listed that you call “plodders”. Players like Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney were not that far behind Best in terms of skill or the excitement they created amongst the fans. They were also both players who had a long and successful career. They also made excellent role models, something that Best failed to do. At least football managers now run their football clubs in the right way and that someone with Best's lack of self-discipline would never make it to the top. It is a shame that Best never had a manager like Ferguson, Wenger or Mourinho.

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If it is puritanical to be against alcohol abuse......

You sounded puritannical when you suggested George Best committed suicide. Such a view is based on a fundamental misunderstand of the nature of the disease alcoholism.

Suggesting a strong manager could have "cured him" of what was a deep rooted problem is ridiculous.

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If it is puritanical to be against alcohol abuse......

You sounded puritannical when you suggested George Best committed suicide. Such a view is based on a fundamental misunderstand of the nature of the disease alcoholism.

Suggesting a strong manager could have "cured him" of what was a deep rooted problem is ridiculous.

People have addictive personalities but it is clearly wrong to suggest they cannot do anything about it. I have a close friend who is a former alcoholic who managed to get treatment and is now living a normal life. I also have another friend who remains an alcoholic and like George Best will die before her time. The former alcoholic was not changed by a “strong” manager but by a loving daughter. I know people who are addicted to alcohol claim they cannot give it up. However, there are enough reformed alcoholics to show that is not the case. We do no one any favours, especially the young, to argue that we are prisoners of our personality. Although I can see the attractions for those who lack self-discipline to believe it is true.

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If it is puritanical to be against alcohol abuse......

You sounded puritannical when you suggested George Best committed suicide. Such a view is based on a fundamental misunderstand of the nature of the disease alcoholism.

Suggesting a strong manager could have "cured him" of what was a deep rooted problem is ridiculous.

I know people who are addicted to alcohol claim they cannot give it up. However, there are enough reformed alcoholics to show that is not the case. We do no one any favours, especially the young, to argue that we are prisoners of our personality. Although I can see the attractions for those who lack self-discipline to believe it is true.

Who could disagree with any of that?

You do however seem determined to misrepresent what I have said in this thread. Alcoholism is a difficult and complicated disease. It most certainly has nothing to do with suicide.

Some people beat it with considerable help, support and treatment. Others luckily are never bothered by addictions.

I know of no one however who has been helped by the puritanical "pull yourself together" approach to treatment

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You do however seem determined to misrepresent what I have said in this thread. Alcoholism is a difficult and complicated disease. It most certainly has nothing to do with suicide.

Some people beat it with considerable help, support and treatment. Others luckily are never bothered by addictions.

I know of no one however who has been helped by the puritanical "pull yourself together" approach to treatment

George Best referred to himself as someone who was slowly committing suicide. The same is true of my alcoholic friend. As she says, the reason she does not give up alcohol is that she would not like life without it.

I never said of course that George Best should have “pulled-up” his socks. This approach never solves any problems. What alcoholics and others suffering from a lack of self-discipline need is a strong support structure.

I do think that if George Best did have a manager like Wenger or Mourinho there is a good chance he would not have ended up as an alcoholic. These new foreign managers refuse to accept the traditional British drinking culture. This was a serious problem at both Arsenal and Chelsea before they arrived. If players do not obey these no-drinking rules, they are moved on. Bobby Charlton pointed out that Matt Busby allowed George Best to break the rules that the rest of the team had to obey. This including allowing him to drink to the early hours of the morning on the eve of matches. Busby, liking an over-indulgent parent or teacher, did Best no favours and was a primary cause of his lack of self-discipline.

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George Best referred to himself as someone who was slowly committing suicide.

This is just not true. What George Best is well documented to have done following his liver transplant is to contemplate and indeed plan his own suicide in the event that he might not be able to drink alcohol again. This is not the same thing at all.

Where I tend to agree with the Rachabite Simkin is that widespread alcoholism is the great unspoken secret in our society. A very large proportion of teachers for instance drink to an extent that would lead a doctor to describe them as functional alcoholics. I suspect the same could be said for civil servants, doctors, journalists, politicians, judges, webmasters and business people. Celebrity drunks like George Best and Oliver Reed just serve as vehicles for our projection and as the butt of our jokes.

Alcoholism is however a disease not a sign of individual weakness. There have been strong hereditary factors identified by many doctors. There are also even stronger social factors. As a society we must examine not so much the individual and his or her abuse of alcohol but the wider abuse of people’s lives which leads them to drink unwisely. It strikes me as all rather right wing and lacking in empathy and understanding to think otherwise.

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Article about George Best in today's Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Colum...1653141,00.html

Now that the fever has abated a little, it is possible to tackle the question muttered dozens of times over the past few days. Why this parade of grief over George Best? What does it mean? The answer - the infernally complex answer - is also simple at heart. We weren't doing it for him; we were doing it for us. We were treating ourselves to a Diana moment.

That Diana delineation owes a great deal to the American media guru Thomas de Zengotita. He sat in his New York office and watched the vast crowds lining the route to Westminster Abbey and he heard the swell of dissent as they took sides: for her, against him and his unfeeling family. It seemed utterly spontaneous. It caught the royals and their advisers flat-footed.

Joe Public was standing up to be counted, to have his demonstration of distress and resentment watched around the globe. Why should pomp and circumstance come controlled, purveyed only by reverent-voiced BBC commentators, when the people's princess was savagely lost? Joe Public helped make 15 minutes of famous history that he would always remember - and could tell his grandchildren about. He wasn't anonymous any longer, a speck of humanity brushed away by the rich and powerful.

The death rituals of Diana were a surprise. Nobody - especially not the media - had foreseen what happened when you mixed a cocktail of tabloid romance, majestic melodrama and genuine tragedy. Nobody was prepared for the moment that followed. But how quickly we learn ...

Would the old Queen Mum have her moment too? As commentators measured her age against Diana's youth, it seemed not. Perhaps Joe P, still brooding, would sit this one out? But no: there at the close was the moment, a queue of condolences winding miles along the Thames. It was another brief encounter with history, another ad hoc definition of vague, swilling concepts such as nationhood and community.

And so the pace quickens. Pope John Paul II - iconic, controversial, loved, reviled - draws unprecedented throngs to St Peter's Square when he dies. Rome has never seen scenes to equal this, a city taken over by millions of mourners - and thousands of TV cameras. This is history, isn't it? Father Giuseppe Pubblico and his flock are huge players again. Twenty four-hour cable news churns on.

Where, among such arc-lit sessions of sorrow and so much digitised despair, do balance and reality lie? That particular question has no answer as yet. There is no reason why ordinary citizens of our increasingly instant wired world shouldn't be allowed to weep alongside their leaders and peers, to bring their own circumstance to traditional pomp. But we're getting ever closer to the edge.

Some even found the mourning for those who died in London's tube bombings overdone: not wrong or insincere, just too much conflated into a national moment. But Best sets a benchmark along the funeral route. Be clear. He was, for a few years, one of the most charismatic footballers around. There are a few terrific TV clips of goals he scored 35 years ago. Middle-aged football commentators relive their youth when they talk of him. The nostalgia of the beautiful game comes drenched in tinted memories. His death is cause for pause, lament and reflection. But to see the Diana moment turned into the Georgie moment is to see the media hearse rolling heedlessly downhill.

Why Best and not Johnny Haynes, say, a few sad weeks ago - or Stanley Matthews when his time came? Because, unlike with Haynes, killed suddenly in a car crash, cable news kept a florid vigil outside Best's hospital, its very presence signalling importance. Because, unlike Sir Stanley, Best's last years were spent on the pages of the red-tops, swapping blonde wives and mistresses, claiming a new liver, pledging eternal sobriety, breaking his promises. Put Best alongside quiet, modest Tom Finney. Who was the greater footballer? That's a saloon-bar debate. But there is no debate about who starred most indefatigably in his own real-life soap.

There is nothing strictly logical about the magic that transformed a washed-up footballer into a surrogate Princess of Wales. But there is something calculated, almost cynical, to the process. The media, surprised by Di's moment, don't want to be surprised again. If Sky News keeps a hospital vigil then BBC News 24 must be there as well. Call for the obit writers and football sages and video libraries. Kill a few more forests. Order a million black arm bands and minutes of silence in stadiums around the land. Give Joe Public another chance of "being there", of being part of something he and his kids can remember - like a bit part in reality TV.

But aren't the newspapers railing against 24-hour booze the very ones lauding Georgie? The politicians keenest on "family life" the ones with their heads bowed lowest in the directors' box? Who's next for the treatment? Bruno, Becks, Posh? No worry: Joe has enough bread to keep him going. Here, with mounting cynicism, is the newest sort of circus. Don't ask: why George Best? Ask, rather, why not? He was a celebrity as well as a tortured human being, and this - alas - seems the latest way to get him out of here.

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