Belfast Telegraph

George Best: Almost 10 years on from his death and still Calum can't let his dad rest in peace

Calum Best's latest tome about his famous father does the son no favours, says John Laverty

The public disintegration and degradation of the late George Best was one of the great sporting tragedies of the last century.

A sublime footballer, blessed with a God-given natural ability that even Pele envied, Bestie had it all; the looks, the personality, the fame, the fortune.

But God never deals you all the aces and the Belfast Boy was handed a heavy, sodden cross to bear, one he carried from his late teens, one he would eventually buckle and die under the weight of.

It was horrible to watch; a long, slow, painful death, the seeds of which were sown some 40 years before the Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend eventually succumbed to chronic alcoholism, aged 59.

George never needed anyone to drag his name through the mud; an otherwise charming, charismatic man perennially deranged by the deadly disease inflicted upon him, he was more than capable of doing it himself, time and time again.

How bitterly ironic, therefore, that one of the few precious things that emerged from the miasma of broken friendships, broken promises, broken bottles and broken relationships - his only son Calum - should now be the author of George Best's son Calum: Dad accused me of ‘affair’ with Alexabout Britain's first globally-recognised football superstar.

Calum didn't inherit his father's outrageous sporting talent, but the smouldering good looks, an eye for the ladies and a taste for something considerably stronger than tea were clearly passed on.

So too was the famous, apt (and, clearly, still potentially lucrative) surname, retained, post-divorce, by both his mother Angie and his much younger 'stepmum' Alex.

According to Calum's book 'Second Best: My Dad and Me', George once attacked his son, then only 14, after accusing him of having an affair with Alex (née Pursey).

There are, of course, many other distasteful anecdotes in this latent laundering of already well-stained linen.

Really, what good is this doing, now, nearly a decade on from a stoic Calum's pre-funeral tears that gloomy, rain-soaked, November day at Stormont?

This slightest of literary offerings is already laden down by its complete lack of necessity.

The most searingly honest book ('Blessed') about the softly-spoken god with golden feet which ultimately turned to clay has already been written - by the great man himself, a couple of years before he died.

And, if you want the booze, birds and bust-ups chronicled in all their salacious, pseudo-sanctimoniousness, dig out 'The Good, The Bad and The Bubbly', the proceeds of which George took to a rather predictable location.

Best Snr was, however, one of the most disarming men I have ever met; it's easy to understand why, despite his many issues, so many kept forgiving him.

Funnily enough, the last time I spent a night in George's company (post liver-op, 2004) he drank nothing stronger than orange juice; the one night I spent with Calum (2006) led to the worst hangover I've had in 30 years. That's not worthy of being in any book.

And I suspect nothing in this tome will make readers think any less of Bestie.

They may, however, think a lot less of his son.

Read more:

George Best's son Calum: Dad accused me of ‘affair’ with Alex 

Calum Best: Dad's alcoholism drove me to drink and drugs

Washing of dirty linen proves Calum really is Second Best 

Belfast Telegraph


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