Recently I took my car to a local mechanic and noticed a paper cutting on the wall. It was a picture of footballing legend George Best pictured at Dee Why Football Club on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. The mechanic explained to me that George had played an exhibition match for Dee Why Football Club in 1983. He earned plenty of football trophies, so naturally, I was curious. I decided to investigate.
The many football trophies of George Best
George Best’s legend is unequivocal in the folklore of World Football. ”The Belfast Boy” or simply ”Georgie” as he was known to the Old Trafford faithful, George Best was a footballing phenomenon and footballs first world superstar.
From the moment Manchester United scout Bob Bishop sent a telegram to Matt Busby that read ”I think I’ve found you a genius”. George was destined to become the one of the greatest footballers that had ever lived. He had blistering pace with the ball at his feet, unbelievable balance and magical left foot. Although quick tricky wingers were a dime a dozen at that time in British football, it was George’s searing pace and precise final ball that separated him from the pack.
George made his first team debut at 17, Manchester United won the league title in George’s first year as a first team regular in 1965. He would go on to inspire Manchester United to the league title once more in 1967 and arguably the greatest night in their rich history, the 1968 European Cup victory against Benfica at Wembley. George was named the European footballer of the year the same year and he had the world at his feet. (That’s a lot of football trophies!)
George went on to score 181 goals in 474 appearances for Manchester United, an amazing feat for a winger considering the tough nature of the English league at the time. George was kicked up in the air every weekend but he just got back up and carried on. If George would have played under the modern rules with tackles from behind and two footed tackles outlawed, he would have been unplayable.
George left Manchester United in 1974, his career was in rapid decline, heavy drinking and partying had taken its toll. George played for 11 more clubs during the next decade, his standards had dropped significantly and he was shadow of his former self. His pace and agility had gone but there were still glimpses of the old genius. ”The touch” as they say never goes. George would take a 50 yard cross field pass and instantly control it on his chest with the same ease as I would get out of bed in the morning.
George Best on the Northern Beaches
It was in this later part of his career that George found himself in Australia playing for Brisbane Lions in the Australian National Football League. He played four games without scoring.
Although the details surrounding how the game at Dee Why came about are unclear (or why George was in Sydney) and versions of the scoreline differs depending on the source, the video below confirms the game and shows some of the highlights. 3,500 fans packed the hill and were treated to some of the old Best magic. He may not have added to his collection of football trophies, he made a lasting impression on the Northern Beaches football community.