Best backlash angers fans…

ONE of today’s talking points was this Sunday Times article by Bryan Appleyard, bitterly criticising how Northern Ireland reacted to George Best’s death. Already Norn Iron supporters are talking of a boycott of the Sunday Times, and its owners might be having flashbacks about the Sun’s sales in Liverpool after it demonised the local team’s fans after the Hillsborough disaster (later leading to a grovelling apology after the paper lost millions in sales and advertising). Appleyard has a valid point to make, even if you don’t agree.

But it was entirely lost in the badly-written, condescending, agenda-driven drivel that appeared to have more to do with promoting Bryan Appleyard than writing any kind of serious analysis of the events surrounding George Best’s death.

For example, his description of Best’s family at his funeral: Dickie, the father, an absurdly small figure; Angie, the first wife, in furs; Calum, the son, sharply almost sinisterly suited.

The distasteful comparison to the funeral of Diana suggests there was some kind of post-death competition between the two, or that the English were better mourners that us at that sob “most emotional funeral” of ‘the People’s Princess’. It’s morbidly crass and unjustified, even if Diana was far from flawless too. God only knows what will happen if her and Best bump into each other in St Peter’s Bar and an angel offers George a Harp…

It’s worth noting that the ST published an edited-down version of the article in its Northern Ireland edition. While I would defend the right of Mr Appleyard to say what he likes, he might ask himself why his employer chose not to publish his article in full in the very place it was written.

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