Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

George Best fans still flocking to graveside

George Best
George Best advertising Cookstown Sausages
Some of the Best memorabilia up for grabs at Wilsons Auction house today. Pictured a silver Benfica letter opener, dated 1966, given to George which marks Man Utd's 5-1 European Cup defeat of Benfica in Lisbon. There are 110 lots of George Best memorabilia available, collected by Dickie Best over a period of 40 years

It has been five years since his death but the legend continues to grow.

Northern Ireland’s favourite sporting son died on this day in 2005, leaving behind a wealth of memories which refuse to fade.

Over the years fans have travelled from across the world to visit George Best’s grave at Roselawn Cemetery.

Yesterday, on a cold November afternoon, a small, fresh bunch of yellow and white flowers were delicately placed among red and orange roses.

Attached was a note simply saying “five long years” and thanking him for the “joy he brought” to their life.

“No one can match your skills, you were the greatest footballer of all-time,” it read. “Thank you for all the time you played for Manchester United. You are a true legend and will always be missed.”

And among mourners wanting to pay respects were David and Anne Middleton from Carrickfergus and their son James.

“We were here for another funeral and thought we should come and pay our respects,” David said.

“Thinking it has been five years since his death is not just sad, it is tragic. He got a glorious and fitting send-off five years ago.

“I followed him as a football fan and he was one of my heroes.”

And for the past five years the grave at Roselawn Cemetery has been kept tidy by a dedicated team of people.

This includes Robert Douglas McQuade and Michael Boyd.

Mr McQuade from Ballygowan — a life long Manchester United fan — has worked at the cemetery for 38 years.

He, along with Mr Boyd, also assisted in the burial.

The 60-year-old told the Belfast Telegraph: “It is sad to think that it has been five years. He was so popular, he was a legend as far as football was concerned. There were scarves, footballs left and a very big photograph once.

“Every time you come up here, maybe not every day, but very regularly, you see people coming up taking photographs.

“I’ve spoken to fans from England, down South and Canada.”

Reflecting on the day of the burial, he added: “The day of the funeral, it was tough.

“It was an emotional day. But at the burial it was a far more private affair.

“It wasn’t the crowd that was in Belfast, but it was sad, very sad.

“I never got to meet the man himself, unfortunately. That would have been nice.”

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