Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 December 2014

George Best fans still flocking to graveside

George Best
George Best
George Best advertising Cookstown Sausages
George Best

George Best
Regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever, Best inspired Manchester United to European Cup success in 1968, the first time an English club had won the big prize. The Belfast star was named European Footballer of the Year following United’s European triumph, ahead of team mate Bobby Charlton. Best had already been elevated to popstar status by that stage, due in part to a stunning display when he scored twice in a 5-1 win away to Benfica in 1966 which saw him dubbed 'El Beatle'. Although playing 37 times for Northern Ireland, the team never made it to the World Cup Finals denying him a place on the ultimate international stage. Best's life was blighted by alcoholism, he was the classic wayward genius. He died in November 2005, aged 59.
Martin O'Neill at George Best's funeral
Callum Best and mum Angie at George Best's funeral
George Best: Better than Messi?
26 April, 1965: Manchester United 3-1 Arsenal Busby's second great side claimed their first championship on a Monday night. Denis Law scored twice, George Best (pictured) the other and then the waiting began. Leeds, the only team who could halt United, were still playing against Birmingham. At Old Trafford the players waited on the pitch, the crowd waited too, then shortly after 9pm the result came through: 3-3. United were champions.
Rodney Marsh at George Best's funeral
Dennis Law (centre) at George Best's funeral
One of the images from a collection of George Best memorabilia which has been found in a bedroom wardrobe at a house in Worsley, Greater Manchester.
Alex Higgans at George Best's funeral
Barry McGuigan and his wife at George Best's funeral
One of the images from a collection of George Best memorabilia which has been found in a bedroom wardrobe at a house in Worsley, Greater Manchester.Mike Preston starred in an advert with the footballing legend
Milan Manderic at George Best's funeral
Pat Jennings at George Best's funeral
Phil Taylor, George Best's agent and Jackie Fullerton at George Best's funeral
One of the images from a collection of George Best memorabilia which has been found in a bedroom wardrobe at a house in Worsley, Greater Manchester.
George Best
George Best Belfast City is the fastest growing airport in the UK, new figures indicate.
Terry Neill at George Best's funeral
Paddy Kielty and Gerry Armstrong at George Best's funeral
George Best has a drink in a Belfast bar
George Best, during the Northern Ireland v England match in October 1966
Football legend George Best pictured in January 1964
Football legend George Best pictured in January 1964
Manchester United legend George Best
Benfica's Goalkeeper Jose Henrique (left) races back to his goal in a vain attempt to stop George Best (right) of Manchester United from scoring his team's second goal in the the European Cup final at Wembley, 29th May 1968. United eventually won 4-3 after extra time.
George Best pictured with Pat Jennings
Football legend George Best pictured at Windsor Park
George Best in training for Manchester United
Football legend George Best
George Best relaxes with a cup of coffee as he waits for the action in Bulgaria to begin
Crowds gather at Stormont for the funeral of George Best
Crowds gather at Stormont for the funeral of George Best
Frank McLintock at George Best's funeral
Mike England at George Best's funeral
George Best chats to Michael Parkinson
George Best's coffin is carried up the steps to the Stormont buildings
George Best
Manchester United hero George Best was known as much for his off-field antics as his moves on it. He once told interviewer Michael Parkinson that he had sex at half time whilst his heavy partying is considered the reason for his career tailing off. Best is also only one of two men known to have slept with at least two Miss Worlds. The glamour of this fact is somewhat tarnished when you realise the other man to have achieved this is Bruce Forsyth.
Some of the Best memorabilia up for grabs at Wilsons Auction house today. There are 110 lots of George Best memorabilia available, collected by Dickie Best over a period of 40 years.
Some of the Best memorabilia up for grabs at Wilsons Auction house today. There are 110 lots of George Best memorabilia available, collected by Dickie Best over a period of 40 years.
Best Fan - 7 year old Luke McMullan from Dungannon holding a replica European Champions Manchester United Trophy presented to Dickie Best when George Best died. There are 110 lots of George Best memorabilia available, collected by Dickie Best over a period of 40 years.
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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