Leicester City 0 Manchester United 5

There’s nothing like eyewitness account to bring a story to life. Kevin Myers remembers the day he watched a 17 year old George Best cut a more than competent Leicester team to ribbons (subs needed), from the midfield.

Early in the match, George Best, just turned 19, was injured. In those days, substitutes were not allowed, and since his injury merely slowed him down rather than incapacitated him, he dropped back to midfield.

There followed the most sublime individual footballing performance I – or anyone in the ground – have ever seen. Unable to dribble or run, he orchestrated affairs from the centre of the pitch with a vision that was quite unearthly. He simply passed the ball, because that was all he could do; but with those strokes of matador’s steel, he cut Leicester to the heart.

It was not that Leicester didn’t play well; they were good enough to beat most teams that day. But there was nothing they could do about Best. He saw possibilities where others merely saw pitch. Soon a deadly chill settled on the home crowd as they watched their team being routinely, systematically and irresistibly slaughtered by a midfield cripple. An extraordinary buoyancy took hold of the Manchester United forwards. All they had to do was to wait for Georgie to plant the ball in some wholly unexpected position behind a flailing Leicester full-back or neatly over the head of a floundering centre-half for them to run on to.

here was nowhere to which he could not lob or slide the ball, and in order to prevent themselves being made utter fools of, the Leicester defence dropped back, making their offside trap quite redundant. The result was that United scored two swift goals, forcing Leicester to counter-attack.

God help them: lambs to the slaughter. In a bewitching display which combined a profound grasp of trigonometry with the insight of the chess grandmaster, George Best sent ball after ball through the Leicester defence from impossible angles into even more impossible destinations, to appreciative, if slightly stunned, applause from the Leicester crowd.

The match ended Leicester City 0, Manchester United 5.

He ends:

George Best was burdened with more talents, and graced with more temptations, than mortal man can bear. All in all, he bore them well, gave great pleasure to millions of fans and hundreds of women, and has finally gone the way of all flesh. No reason to grieve; none at all.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    Myers, as usual, doesn’t let the truth get in the way of his daily rant.

    He claims that both Best and Keane confounded stereotypes because Best came from a tough East Belfast housing estate and Keane, according to Myers, came from a pleasant seaside town in Cork. Of course Roy Keane, in actual fact, hails from Mayfield which is as tough an estate as any in east Belfast, minus the sectarian killers of the UDA etc.

    It seems Myers knows as little about football as he does about politics.

  • Mick Fealty

    I spotted that too OC. But I thought I’d dwell on his superlative memory of the match in question instead.

    As a City fan I have some humble pie to eat after that dreadful breaking of the minute’s silence at Eastlands on Saturday. I imagine most Liverpool fans feel the same way. 😉

  • Occasional Commentator

    Do any broadcasters intend to broadcast any of these famous matches that Best was involved in? I’m too young to have seen much of him. Over the years, I’ve heard lots about his private life and seen lots of randoms clips of him playing. But I just want to see the football, such as a whole match, start to finish.

  • Mick Fealty

    What kicked off Myer’s writing was the fact that the old clips don’t in any way measure up our impressions of the man.

    Some of that may be explained by the fact that mostly Best played up front and spent many matches just waiting for balls that were never delivered.

    But, it’s just as likely that in the sixties they didn’t keep anything like the amount of matches that get made and stored these days.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    I don’t know, Mick, whether Kevin Myers has a ‘superlative memory’ or an enhanced sense of ignorance.
    He may paint a distinct word picture but it seems to me that if his facts are wrong, his conclusions must be suspect.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, you may be right. I wouldn’t like to dismiss any journalist (or blogger) out of hand for getting it wrong every now and again. Glasshouses and stones, what!?

    I can only say it hit the spot for me! But then, I’m obviously a blogger of a certain age!!

  • Dutch

    Mick,

    I too am a City fan and I wasn’t a bit surprised that some fans broke the silence at the City v Liverpool game.

    It was so predictable that City requested that Mike Summerbee would be allowed to start a minute’s clapping but the FA didn’t allow it. Instead a few idiot broke the minute’s silence.

    At Wolves they had a minute’s clapping but I guess that The Championship has different rules.

    Personally my memories of George Best have nothing to do with football as he was before my time. Instead I remember a man who was on a very Irish path to self-destruction and was a slave to media manipulation. “The wonder is he hath endured so long.”

  • Leon

    I find it incredible that Myers doesn’t see a wife beater like Best as a thug in any way shape or form while family man Keane is.

    I would like to know how he comes to that conclusion. Also, Haaland finished the game and I believe played the next match,which in the eyes of the law meant his career wasn’t effectively finished by Keane’s tackle.

    The law disagrees with Myers about that tackle as I’m sure a lot of women will about what he considers a thug.

    But then again the man has form when it comes to insulting women and ignoring the abuse they suffer.

  • Myers was talking specifically about the behvaiour of both on the pitch.

    Now you can argue until kingdom come the validity of his comparison. I remember the Maysfield of the seventies (they were still building it then), and it was a place that was very tough on some young lives.

    And the game had changed too. It was never as innocent (or at least the defenders were never as naive) after Best’s time. Keane’s a product of a hard winner take all game that has little time for anything other than success.

    But if you are going to stand a defence for Keane’s brutal (premeditated or not) attack on Haaland, then quoting the fact that he got away with it only enhances the brutish impression Myers has of Keane.

  • Aaron

    I don’t see why the crashing of the minute’s silence is to be considered such a bad thing. Much worse is having a state-approved set of emotions forced upon everone in attendance. Why on earth would City and Liverpool fans want to honour Best’s memory? But then I disagree with the entire of concept of such silences.

  • mwk

    As a previous season ticket holder at Filbert Street, I wish to complain about the oppression shown to Foxes in this piece. Fair and balanced? Oh, wait, it was reasonably so. Still, erm, right.

  • George

    Mick,
    the only difference between Keane and most professionals is that he had the cajones to admit it.

    Jack Charlton kept his little black book and got terrible grief for saying he used this method.

    Giles said he and Hunter used to mete out “justice” and I have no doubt that United had their enforcers who did the bone-breaking for Best.

    Myers didn’t need to bring up the comparison with Keane and seems to have only done so to have a crack at the Corkman.

    Weakens everything else he has to say in the article as a consequence.

  • There was Bomber Harris of Chelsea too. Maybe. Each of those Leeds players you mention, including Big Jack were hard men. I don’t recall if the term thug was routinely used or not. But it might well have been. Certainly Hunter would not have expected to have been loved in the way Best clearly was.

    Maybe I’m being over sensitive, but the Haaland ‘tackle’ was a cut below anything I remember being meted out by that particular trio. You don’t get a five match ban for a bit of over enthusiastic shoving.

    The jury is certainly out over whether it caused Haaland to leave football. But it is also out about whether Keane really did put his hand up for what he did that day (hence the disowning of a key section in his ghost written autobiography).

    Whatever about Keane’s behaviour on the pitch, I do agree that Myers’ comparison was a distraction from the memory of Best and his riveting account of the Leicester match.