United Review on George Best’s brief time at Bournemouth


The attendance, at least to the figure in red the crowd had all flocked to see, was a modest 9,121: small fry compared to the numbers he’d so bewitched and beguiled in his ’60s pomp. 

The last Saturday of March 1983, the week before Easter, was a chilly day on the Dorset coast. Six months into the future lay the 20th anniversary of his Football League debut; an arrival that changed the landscape of the domestic game forever. Noticeably thicker round the midriff in that trademark no.7 shirt, and without regular football for the best part of two years, there was still a collective intake of breath as, with an absent-minded wave, the heavily bearded 36-year-old shimmied across the Dean Court turf for his Bournemouth debut, against Third Division promotion-chasers Newport County. 

Just 42 days later he had played the last of his five goalless games, a cameo that finally brought the curtain down on his tempestuous love affair with English professional football. But 37 years on, those who were there still talk excitedly about when George Best played for Bournemouth, recounting the buzz that turned seasoned terrace types back into excited schoolboys, agog for another glimpse of the Best glamour and all that went with it. It’s cast-iron proof of the man’s timeless allure; the box-office appeal that for right or wrong, good or bad, defined his remarkable sporting life: Icarus in studs, the boy blessed with sporting gifts that exacted such a taxing price.


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