George Best

So George Best is dead. While he was apparently a good footballer (having no interest in football, I can only go on what other people say), I can't understand the huge amount of mourning that is going on.
Lets face it, the man was an alcoholic, a drunk driver and slapped people around.

But it's alright, because when he was sober he was a 'great guy'.

Which indirectly must mean that hitting people and driving while drunk is acceptable if you are one of these 'great guys'. So I suppose that the family wiped out by a drunk driver that I dealt with a couple of years ago this Christmas, were just a speed bump if the killer was a 'great guy'?

Lets not speak ill of the dead, and there are a lot of dead due to drink. He is one of 6,400 people who will die this year directly because of alcohol. That's not counting the 40,000+ who die due to causes 'related' to alcohol. I don't think there will be any national mourning for the 16 other people who died of similar causes on the same day as him. Or the 109 who died in relation to drink.

Interesting that he died in the same week as the government making alcohol available around the clock. Increasing the access to alcohol is apparently going to cut these deaths?

I'm sorry, but I find the death of Richard Burns, far more tragic. A young man, dead at the age of 34 of a brain tumour.

I think I'll keep these comments between you and me though, as Manchester United are playing West Ham later today, and I don't fancy being dragged out my car and stoned to death for daring to suggest that Best brought his illness on himself.

I see a lot of alcoholics, and it's the pure waste that makes me angry, not only of their life, but the damage that they cause the lives of their family and friends.

Talking to my station mates, my opinion isn't uncommon which is probably as an effect of dealing with alcoholics day in, day out I suppose…

31 thoughts on “George Best”

  1. I don't care either way about the guy, don't know much about him.However I would mourn the other people who died of drink on that day, and the ones who died of drugs and those who smoked themselves to death. Humans aren't infallible, there are lots of reasons people get into these situations, and I don't think they do it on purpose. We might all think that in their situation, we'd be stronger, we'd “just stop” but I don't think it would be so cut and dry in reality.

    I tell you what I found really disturbing though, the big “countdown” to his death, with everyone impatiently waiting for him to finally go. It was really distasteful. On Friday morning everyone did their obituarys anyway, having lost patience waiting for him to die. It was a bit of a circus to be honest.

  2. i agree with your comment about george best….tho i'd go a bit further. best only got his transplant cos he was famous and had the money. with people dying while waiting for organ transplants, i think it was very wrong that he should have had the transplant, as he had not even recovered from his alcoholism. and as the outcome has proved – even with the transplant his life was short, and he abused the donation by carrying on drinking. i know that it is very hard to given up an addiction, but were all protocols followed he should not have had the donation. besides, he might have had a better quality of life if he had not had the transplant, with all the immunesuppression and side effects that go with it.

  3. It's a fair point that a George Best assaulted a police officer – you have me there. But you stated that Best “slapped people around”. People, last time I checked, means more than one person. Until you can state another person that Best was convicted of assaulting your point is still libelous. It may be a mute point to most of Random Acts readership, but the Law has been argued over smaller details.I think there are very few people describing Best as a saint. Flawed genius, great footballer, drunk, waster – all of the above. I don't know of anyone knocking on the doors to the Vatican at the moment.

    I'd agree with most of your readers comments. It was a waste of a Life and I would have liked Best to have respected it more. I wanted to see him play into the twilight of his career with the vigour he showed at the start; and I would have like him to die peacefully in his old age. It didn't happen and life is crappy like that. What hurts is that this is a readership that, and I may be wrong, is taking an interest in our profession (I am a tech) because I imagine they have an interests in the work we do caring for people who call us sometimes at their lowest ebb. To hear people saying that anyone, regardless of who they are, doesn't deserve to have everything done to help them and reading between the lines – deserves to die, makes me wander about the decency of humanity, and certainly the decency of the readership.

    I went to a girl today who had overdosed on paracetamol. This will do the same thing to your liver in a few days that George Best did in a life time to his through drink. I don't think there are any of you out there that would have the balls to tell this girl the same things, with the same rancor that you write about George Best. They have the same problem – they are two people struggling to get to grips with Life.


  4. Well done for being brave enough to post what most of us are thinking! I too feel that unlike Richard Burns, Bests is hardly a tragic death but a selfish self inflicted one, and although I remeber as a kid looking up to him as a sporting legend, I also remember the stories of his abusive nature too.

  5. missed your tome the few days nice to see you back and on form, hitting the nail on the head with your comments about George Best and I share your feelings about Richard Burns what a waste of a young life

  6. i also have no real interest in football apart from knowing how my hometown team get on of a saturday (lose,mostly!) and am too young to have seen best play but watching the clips on tv recently its obvious that the man was a genius on the pitch.what was also clear was that he was a pioneer for the superstar players of today,in a time when there didnt seem to be the checks and balances and protection against the pitfalls of such fame.

    hopefully,the lessons learnt will not be wasted.that WOULD be a tragedy.

  7. Nice to know that someone still has their head screwed on – well done for saying stuff that needs to be said, rather than getting caught up in hysteria.-jdp

  8. Yep, well said and I hope the media can now get over their sycophantic and sickening sentimentality.The death of Richard Burns is more upsetting and is a greater loss than that of a burnt out, selfish waster like Best.

  9. Hmm, we must have similar thoughts. I posted today also. I think the press have gone way over the top with the almost blanket coverage.Richard Burns got mentioned after the Rugby and Football on Sky News. I don't know what the BBC was like seeing as I try to avoid it these days.

  10. People aren't grieving for the man he became, they are mourning the boy he was and the man he could have been. The older ones certainly remember the way it was at the height of his fame, when if you take the hysteria there is for David Beckham and magnify it by ten, that is what it was like for George Best. He was the embodiment of the dreams of every little boy who kicks a ball up against the garage wall. And every little girl who had just discovered boys were actually, quite nice…What a lot of people are mourning, if you like, is the proof that nobody can have it all and survive it. The dream is dead.

  11. Shame when anyone dies but why the fuss, famous for five years, but that was 30 years ago.My first wife died aged 37 of alcohol related stuff, so I have mixed feelings. Couldn't kick the habit, even with help, hospital admissions and drugs. She became one of the 'regulars' for the ambulance service until a PE took her life. Sorry if this is a bit personal.

    Sober, she was great. Teacher, ex-nurse, kind and generous etc. Maybe its genetic, nature or nuture, who really knows.

    But to all the paramedics who treated her with kindness and professionalism – THANKS.

  12. it is a sad fact of life ladies and gentlemen when england's only rallying world champion dies of a tragic illness ad a young age but is over shadowed by a man who had continued to waste his life away even though he was given a second chance at life. the media's reaction to this this ifeel is despicable since george best recives blanket coverage in to days papers and richard burns recieves a tiny little paragraph in the center of pg 8 (sunday mail sunday 27nov). a sorry state of affairs indeed

  13. Totally agree.Whilst I feel sorry for anyone with addiction problems, it strikes me as very tragic that in this case, Best was given a second opportunity in life with a transplant – via someone else's tragedy – and yet he wasted it.

    Someone much more 'worthy' could have benefitted from his new liver I think.

    A shame all round.

    The Girl

  14. Well said, I wanted to say something similar but you've done it better justice. I'm sickened by the comentary given to Best. Burns is one of the best talents the British has seen in a rally driver, he didn't waste his life and someone elses. What was said about Burns on the news yesterday? nothing.Whilst we're on the subject of death, Pat Morita who played Mr Myagi in the Karate Kid films died on Thursday.

  15. Hero worship is weird. Best seems like a sort-of harmless example, although you're right that putting abuse and (potential) vehicular homicide in with “greatness” isn't a Good Thing. The strength of the need for hero worship really hit me during the US reaction to 9/11/2001. Sept 10th the Shrub was an obvious incompetent with plummeting popularity. Sept 11th and 12th he was flying around on Air Force One and hiding in bunkers, but by the 13th, or 14th at the latest, he was the Brave Dear Leader who was going to save the country by whupping somebody's ass. Very, very weird.That set me to wondering whether hero worship is some kind of genetic taint humans simply have, which there's no point fighting. The best outcome may be to channel it to something reasonably limited and harmless. And that was when I started thinking that maybe cermonial monarchies actually perform a very useful function (although maintaining the stratospheric standards of behavior suitable for heroes is obviously pretty hard on the poor blighters).

  16. i'm glad one person mentioned Pat Morita……so now it's two!!… good on you Mr Miyagi for the memories you've given us big kids……. Wax off!.

  17. I'm disappointed with a lot of the comments I've read on this board today. George Best was a convicted drink driver and spent time in jail for it. How many people on this board have driven a motor vehicle over the speed limit and fobbed it off with a lame excuse “Well it was 3am and there was no one on the road.” George Best paid his dues to society – have you?He was also an alcoholic, which most doctors and people in the recognise as an illness. But he didn't die from it. The BBC, usually a respected and balanced source of the news have been qouted as saying

    “[George Best's] condition deteriorated sharply last Friday with the development of a lung infection that led to internal bleeding.

    “He… was particularly susceptible to infection because of medicines he needed after his liver transplant.”

    He didn't drink his transplanted liver away he died from an infection.

    Charges of assault of were never pressed which which would make Reynolds comments of “slapping people around” libelase and should be retracted with an apology.

    But to get to my point – what fans of football are lamenting is the beauty of Best playing football; in the same way that art fans would find Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel beautiful. We had never seen a footballer like Best and we've not since.

    Comparing his media coverage to Richard Burns' is futile. Best had no control over the fact the media loved to print a story about him, in the same way that Richard Burns had little control over the fact that they didn't.

    I don't like coming onto places like this and having to make a stand. George Best in my eyes was a flawed genious, a generous guy that gave too much of himself.

    Best didn't kill anyone but maybe himself and we all have to die. But he did give millions of people happiness. I hope your friends are as kind to you when you die and don't say things like “He was a miserable bastard that liked to slag people off on interent chat boards!” That would be a waste.


  18. Actually he was convicted in 1984 for drink-driving and assaulting apolice officer, so, no it isn't libelous. (Also from the BBC).But yes you are right that I should have put him in with the 40,000+ deaths that are related to drinking, rather than directly attributable.

    And anyway, the point of my post is less about George Best, and more about the utter foolishness of attributing near sainthood, on someone not deserving of it. Unless of course your criteria for sainthood is tied to how well they kick a football about.

    And, if alcoholism is an illness…

    …maybe a topic for another post.

  19. I agree with you that the level of media attention is excessive, and that GBs death is no more tragic than anyone who is loved and dies leaving their friends and family behind.However, alcoholism is now widely recognised as a disease, and is seriously addictive, so yes, I feel pity for someone who dies as a result of this insidious substance, just as I would for someone who is addicted to nicotine and dies of lung cancer.

    I don't think that people voluntarily choose alcoholism, or to die of any of the number of slow and painful alcohol related illnesses. I'm not trying to excuse the despicable behaviour you mention such as drink driving and slapping people around, rather I see them as awful side effects of the addiction.

    My brother-in-law died from alcohol related illness at 32 years of age, leaving behind my sister and their two children. He was an addict of the most desperate kind, and no treatment ever succeeded at breaking his fatal habit.

  20. So how much drink per day does it take to really cause that much harm on the body? I take down about 3 to 4 pints a night with friends at the pub, is this amount something to worry about?Thanks

  21. I was discussing this with my boss, we are both of the same opinion that he did do it to himself. I have a 17 year old family friend who has a brain tumour, who is now back in hospital after a stroke. The family is fully prepared for her not making it to Christmas. I know who Ill be grieving for.

  22. he got a liver transplant and then swiftly went back on the booze, hence he drank his new liver away, wasted that chance.Thirty years ago he kicked good football, that doesn't make him fantastic and it doesn't excuse the hell he'd have put his family through by *not fighting hard enough* against his illness of alcoholism.

    His family were his main victims, as they are of any alcoholic. Dealing with the debt he ran up, dealing with his behaviour, dealing with whatever things he may have said or done behind closed doors, and always constantly dealing with knowing that as far as he was concerned, the booze came first.

    Kicking a football thirty years ago doesn't excuse that.

  23. Alcoholism is like any disease – you can either go “oh, poor me, it's not my fault I'm being antisocial, it's just because I'm in so much pain/so depressed/whatever” or you can fight it.I have the greatest respect for those who fight it. Those who fall over but then stand up again, make *apologies* rather than excuses and blaming it on the illness, those who try and try and try every day of their lives no matter how difficult it is…

    The ones I don't have much respect at all for are the ones who don't try. Who say things like “it's just because it's Christmas” or “so-and-so was winding me up” or “I can't do it, it's too difficult”, the ones who don't go to the support groups, don't use the help that's available, and trample all over the feelings of the people who care.

  24. Sorry if my first post on this excellent blog makes me sound like a pedant, but having studied media law, I know that it is not possible to libel a dead person. Their estate has no recourse in law against comments made that, were the person alive, would be considered libellous.This whole discussion reminds me of when Princess Diana passed away at the same time as Mother Theresa- hysterical coverage of why one should be immeadiately beautified, and small footnotes on the death of Mother Theresa.

    *time for a nice cup of tea and a sit down*

  25. I think for me, the media attention has been most sickening – even before he died the almost obsessive behaviour of the press was apparent. I think if the BBC news website headline had been “George Best not quite dead yet” I wouldn't have been surprised. I wrote a short piece about vultures, but was too chicken to publish it on my blog..Since he died, the nation seems to have gone into 'mourning mode' – and they want to be seen to be mourning. (for example – people are paying 40+ for a Man U shirt to write a condolance message on and display it outside Old Trafford – why not donate that 40 to someone like the British Liver Trust?) I dunno – I get the same feeling as I did after July 7th – people just want to be a part of the grief.

    And yes, I totally agree with everything you've said, Tom.

  26. While I agree that Bestie did squander his life away, and that it was very wrong for him to recieve a second liver when he was not even recovered, most of the comments here, I would assume, are by people who have either never seen him play and do not know how utterly breath taking his skills were. He was an alcoholic, a flawed genius, but he does not deserve such condemnation. He brought so much happiness to so many people and I, and many other people, choose to celebrate his ability to perform miracles and perfections on the pitch rather than his flaws and his shortcomings.

  27. As someone working with newborn/premature babies damaged through parental drink and drugs, who saw the damage to patients and their families when working in General Nursing, who has friends scarred mentally through what they went through as children of alcoholics, THANK YOU for saying what needed to be said, for not glorifieing a drunk who could once 'kick a ball about a bit'.I'm sick of people making excuses for drunks and druggies, OK its an illness, but it didnt start with the first drink – they should take the responsibility for what they have done TO THEMSELVES.

  28. There isn't really much difference between the girl with the Paracetamol OD and George Best's drinking habits/addiction – one just tried to end her life quickly and George just did it publicly and over a much longer period of time. Both very tragic cases. Best was also taken in for assaulting his wife Alex. It isn't libelous to say he was a wife-beater and alcoholic – it was common knowledge and a reported fact also validated by his own admission. No-one deserves to die and in fact George Best has probably been dying for years. Some relatives of the girl are probably just as hurt, angry and upset as are George's relatives – any premature or futile death is a waste and most of the time that's what makes the ones left behind angry and hurt. In saying that, it kind of pissed me off that the media paid so much attention to Best's passing – finally speaking about him in the past before he actually died. Alcoholism or associated complications of alcoholism is fairly un-dignified at the best of times let alone having it paraded and analysed for all to see at a time when you should be left alone in peace to go.

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