German director Hellmuth Costard made a film, released in 1971, called Football as Never Before. It followed George Best around the field, to the exclusion of all other players, throughout a 2-0 home victory for Manchester United against Coventry City in 1970.
An interesting idea. Best sets up one goal for Bobby Charlton and scores the other and it’s instructive to watch, over the course of 90 minutes, how little Best has to move; he’s usually in the right position just through his footballing sense, although he can also move really fast when he needs to.
An Irish composer called Matthew Nolan has recently “re-discovered” the film and written a score for it, although it didn’t need much re-discovering, I saw it in the early noughies at The Filmhouse where it had a short run, along with quite a few other UK cinemas. It went down well, although I fear the lads at the front with the pints and the crisps were expecting something other than a German art film.
The film Zidane from 2006 nicked the idea entirely, but nobody said anything. It was almost as if in 2005 someone had made a “rock opera” about a deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizard called Willie and nobody mentioned a similarity to a forebear.
Here’s what happens at half-time in the Best film – what weird being is this?
Jinglin’ Geordie’s in Edinburgh has this picture of Best above the table where he is sitting in the picture. The headquarters of The Scotsman used to be next door to the pub and when Best was playing sporadically for Hibs in the seventies a lucky photographer from the paper got the picture. The truth of the matter is that they are not all his glasses, they belong to the team-mates who were with him but pulled back to let the photographer get a better picture of George. Best wasn’t even able to drink at the time, he was taking Antabuse.