Monday, November 28, 2005

Say, Does Anyone Know Who George Best Played For ?

Also evil and cynical is my strange feeling of respect for the Leeds and Liverpool fans who broke wind at the canonisation of George Best.

Not that I don’t have a lot of respect for George Best. Two of my hobbies are football and heavy drinking, so naturally I respect a man who was master of both, but there’s something more going on here. Now, I’m not so worried by the slight (OK, huge) degree of whitewashing going on here. He had his genius, he had his darkness – each should stand on their own merits. Ditto, while I suspect that much of the coverage is nothing more than the product of the widespread delusion amongst persons of a certain age that everything that happened in the Sixties is a source of endless fascination to everybody in the world, it doesn’t really worry me. In fact, I’m even willing to overlook the sheer humbuggery of all these folks shocked – shocked! – at the behaviour of the fans. Hey, where were they when alleged authors were clambering over The Don’s corpse to publish books claiming Revie was a Nazi space cannibal ? How about when BoJo made his Hillsborough comments ? Hmmmm ? So what’s different this time ?

Ah yes, that’s the thing.

George Best was a Manchester United legend in every sense of the word, and the rebranding of the self-destruction of a turps-nudging wife-beater into this century’s equivalent of the death of Lord Nelson is utterly predictable. The BestFest is not some content-neutral tribute to a great sportsman, so much as continuous 24/7 propaganda on behalf of what is certainly the sleaziest corporation in British sport, and possibly in Britain itself.

That’s why I have that sneaking respect for those fans – in an era when our fearless media have done all but turned themselves into unpaid PR agents for a massive multinational, they didn’t allow themselves to be mau-maued into swallowing whole this chocolate box coverage of a thuggish mega-corporation. Was it harsh, cruel, barbaric or adjective-of-choice for them to do what they did ? Sure, but the people least qualified to criticise them are the spineless errand boys enablers in the media, ever anxious to take any opportunity to whitewash a despicable collection of amoral scumbags as some kind of loveable representation of the best in our national game.

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