Wet Canvas Dreams

Visit Art.com

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Funeral of George Best

Football legend George Best is to be buried in Belfast on Saturday after a funeral service at Stormont.

Once upon a time, in a life long lost, George Best's name was the first footballer's name I sang. Because I grew up in the sixties and the seventies. And because of him.
George Best's body will leave his father's home at Cregagh Road, East Belfast, at 10am on Saturday, December 3, 2005. The funeral cortege will then travel the short distance to Stormont where the 11am service in the Grand Hall will be relayed to thousands of mourners. Afterwards, George Best will be buried beside his mother Annie in the hill-top Roselawn Cemetery, overlooking east Belfast.

Attending George's Funeral

Sporting stars, including team mates from Manchester United's European Cup winning side of 1968, together with manager Alex Ferguson and other current representatives of the club, are attending. The BBC reports that Pele will not be attending due to being unable to alter his schedule in Brazil. Sammy McIlroy, the original 'new George Best', will similarly not be able to attend though he has recorded messages of condolences that will be broadcast to the family while he takes care of the team he manages in Morecambe.
The family specifically requested that the funeral be on Saturday to make it easier for ordinary fans to attend - whilst knowing that would make it more difficult for football stars to get to the funeral. George's brother-in-law Norman explained: Many working people would have had to have taken time off work and maybe missed a day's pay to attend.

We wanted to make it as easy as possible for those fans who wanted to pay their respects to George to be able to do so.

This is not primarily a day that is about the big names. It is about the people. That is the way George would have wanted it.

There is a limit of 32,000 who can be accomodated at Stormont, so beyond that it is recommended that the best place to attend the funeral is along the route of the cortege. The family have asked for privacy at the cemetary and earlier at George Best's father's house.

Hotel rooms in Belfast, thought to number 3,000 are almost all booked up.

Best's ex-wives Angie and Alex are both due to be in Belfast for the funeral, along with his girlfriend Ros Hollidge.

Order of service

The service at Stormont starts at 1100 GMT and is due to proceed as follows:

The coffin enters the Grand Hall at Parliament Buildings and is placed at foot of main staircase
Peter Corry sings Bring Him Home
Welcome to family and other mourners by Eamonn Holmes
Hymn - The Lord's My Shepherd
Tribute from Denis Law
Brian Kennedy sings Vincent
Tribute from Bobby McAlinden
Address by Pastor Roy Gordon
Poetry reading by Calum Best
Tribute from George Best's sister, Barbara McNarry
Peter Corry sings The Long and Winding Road
Tributes from George Best's consultant Prof. Roger Williams and Dr Akeel Alisa
Hymn - Abide With Me
Pastor Gordon gives closing prayer
Eamonn Holmes brings service to a close
Brian Kennedy sings You Raise Me Up
Coffin is carried out of Grand Hall to hearse followed by family members.

The outpouring of grief will be the biggest since more than a million people lined the streets of London in 1997 for (the funeral of Princess) Diana, said The Sun newspaper, acknowledging the newly established sport of public grieving.

Once upon a time Britain went out to the world, conquered it, and ruled it. And when she retreated she brought the world back with her. From her empire Britain brought a pagentry and flair for the spectacular, and the celebration. It suited especially her Royal Family, and her Dead. And so we had the funeral of Churchill, and ultimately the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales - who handed the torch of Royalty from the Family to Celebrity.

So now we have George, neither a King nor a Prince literally but about to be treated like no sportsperson has ever been. And his funeral will be about us, not him. In the Age of Information we as a planet are family, and we choose to celebrate together. It is the act of celebrating together that we are actually celebrating much like we did when Pope John Paul II died and Ayatollah Khomeini before him. This occasion is beyond a funeral. It is a happening. It is art. And maybe twenty-five years from now, after the funerals of Pele, Muhammad Ali, and Diego Maradona, will we know what it means.

The End

In the tradition of Wet Canvas Dreams, we present just a token of the headlines that the end of the life of George Best has provoked:

"Life's game, as played by George Best"
"To watch George Best play football was to fall in love with the game. This was his legacy: Beyond price"
"Maradona, Pele, Cruyff pay tribute to Best"
"Simply the Best"
"Remember him today at 3pm"
"George Best: The passing of a legend"
"Do Not Mourn, Celebrate Him"
"Thanks to George for all the super memories"
"George Best: A Football Colossus"
"The Best That There's Ever Been"
"He Made Football Beautiful"
"George Best 1946-2005"

The Quotes of George Best

Alas this website is a place of words and only words, so let a smattering of George's own words tickle us sadly as we smile in memory of a footballer:
  • "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars - the rest I just squandered."

  • "I used to go missing a lot...Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom, Miss World..."

  • (On David Beckham) "He cannot kick with his left foot, he cannot head a ball, he cannot tackle and he doesn't score many goals. Apart from that he's alright."

  • "If I had been born ugly, you would never have heard of Pelé"

  • "In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol. It was the worst 20 minutes of my life."

  • "Pelé called me the greatest footballer in the world. That is the ultimate salute to my life."

  • "I've stopped drinking, but only while I'm asleep."

  • "I once said Gazza's IQ was less than his shirt number and he asked me: "What's an IQ?"

  • (On Eric Cantona) "I'd give all the Champagne I've ever drunk to be playing alongside him in a big European match at Old Trafford."

  • (On the blood transfusion after his liver transplant) "I was in for 10 hours and had 40 pints - beating my previous record by 20 minutes."

  • "Half-time!" - when asked by Michael Parkinson how soon to kick off he had made love.

The Beginning

The final words are those of birth, announcing the beginning of the artistry that was the man, still a boy, as written on the telegram sent to Manchester United by talent scout Bob Bishop, who discovered a 15-year-old George Best playing for Cregagh Boys' Club in Belfast in the north of Ireland:

"I think I've found you a genius"

Paul Dorrell says:

If the art world is primarily one of play for you, then just keep on playing. The best work comes from that sort of inner freedom.


Post a Comment

<< Home