“Maradona good. Pele better. George Best” – A Northern Ireland flag’s message at George Best’s funeral.
Local heroes are real. George Best is a superhero to me. To many of my friends. To many Northern Irish people. To many AFC Bournemouth fans. Even Manchester United fans like him. Hold on – even Leeds United fans like him. Even non-football fans like him. Growing up in Northern Ireland, everyone knew all about the talent of George Best. Northern Ireland’s first European Cup (Champions League) winner, our first ever Balon D’Or winner (currently only ever). The guy was a local hero despite his troubled times where he fell into alcoholism and ultimately ended his career too early. But forget all that and concentrate on this boy who “at times in our wee country brought unity”.
“Just a proud and quiet Belfast boy, he came from the Cregagh” – Scott Gordon.
The fact is that despite George Best having a fantastic career and playing for clubs on five continents, he never once played in the World Cup or European Championships and only scored 9 goals for Northern Ireland. Some fans blame George for this, citing that in the 1966 World Cup, we would have qualified had we not drawn 1-1 away to Albania in a match George Best. Similarly George Best was still only 36 in the 1982 World Cup when Northern Ireland qualified but deemed not fit enough by manager Billy Bingham. I still personally believe George Best should have been in that squad – he certainly was a better player than most of the players in there. To have the luxury of bringing George Best on when we were virtually out, losing 4-1 to France to entertain the world for one last time would have been amazing. Alas, it didn’t happen…
Indeed for the 1986 World Cup, George Best would have been only 40, in a squad where we also had 40 year old Pat Jennings, albeit a goalkeeper. George played for three of the teams I support – Glentoran (1 match only), Bournemouth (4 matches only) and of course the Northern Ireland national team.
“I spent my money on girls, drink and fast cars. The rest of it, I wasted” – George Best.
I attended George Best’s funeral in Belfast, Northern Ireland in December 2005 with my Dad, brothers and mate Jody who was visiting Northern Ireland at the time.
George Best played for clubs in five continents, something many will never replicate:
Europe – AFC Bournemouth, Glentoran, Bangor, Hibernian, Fulham, Cork Celtic, Manchester United, Dunstable Town, Swansea City, Tobermore United, Stockport County, Nuneaton Borough.
America – Los Angeles Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, San Jose Earthquake.
Africa – Jewish Guild.
Asia – Hong Kong Rangers, Sea Bee.
Oceania – Brisbane Lions.
I could easily write a blog article about top George Best sights on my travels around the world. Maybe I will write about them all in one. For example:
- I watched matches at AFC Bournemouth’s Dean Court where we have George Best’s picture on the outdoor brick wall of fame, ENGLAND.
- I went to the George Best statue which sits outside Old Trafford in Manchester, ENGLAND.
- I visited Hermosa beach and the Underground Bar in Los Angeles, USA where George Best once owned a bar called Bestie’s.
- I slept in the George Best backpackers in Bled, SLOVENIA.
- I have an official George Best £5 banknote, issued in Belfast, NORTHERN IRELAND in 2005.
- I have flown into the George Best Belfast City airport in NORTHERN IRELAND numerous times.
- I drank a few times in The Pickled Liver Bar in Bangkok, THAILAND which featured George Best on their logo and theme.
- I drank in the Belfast Bar in Penrith, AUSTRALIA which has a photo for the ladies – one of George Best in the nude showering after a match.
- I saw George Best’s last ever car in the museum in Manchester, ENGLAND.
- I was interviewed on Ulster Television ahead of the 10 year memory of George Best’s death in 2015, NORTHERN IRELAND.
- George Best was featured in a match programme and magazine on my travels in HUNGARY, POLAND and TURKEY.
- While celebrating my 100th country in Sousse, TUNISIA, the bar had a George Best picture on the wall.
- Many other bars on my travels had a George Best photo up on the wall.
- There is a George Best statue in Belfast, NORTHERN IRELAND now which looks like Donald Trump on heroin (my quote in the Irish News!)!
Some photos from my George Best related travels around the world
How to book at tour of George Best’s childhood home
It’s pretty easy to book a tour of George Best’s childhood home. You can head to this page – George Best tour. That is the official page of the George Best house. The address is common public knowledge – 16 Burren Way in the Cregagh in East Belfast.
1.You can phone this number: EastSide Partnership 028 9045 1900 during normal working hours (or leave a voicemail outside these times).
2.Send a message via this contact form – George Best house tour.
How to stay overnight in George Best’s childhood home
You can also stay a night in George Best’s childhood home!! Yes you can sleep here, you can book it now on Air B and B!! We just did the tour but a night overnight here would be something special!
As a kid, I spent manys a day on the Cregagh estate in East Belfast as my Granny, Granda, Great Granny and Great Granda all lived two streets away on Drumragh End. I even played on the Cregagh pitches with my cousin many times. There used to be a mural on the walls there of George. I think it’s gone now.
Overview of the tour of George Best’s Childhood Home
Through my contact Chris Armstrong, he arranged for the tour guide Peter Wood to meet us at George Best’s house at 6 pm one evening in November 2017. I was back touring Northern Ireland with my Polish friends Julia and Rafał. Rafał is a big football fan and we did some of the Kazimierz Deyna sightseeing together in Poland so now it was time to check out the George Best family home.
I don’t want to spoil the tour and post all my photos here, but basically you knock the door. You are welcomed in by the guide who has some gimmicks and props there to show you including a Wolverhampton Wanderers 1960s jersey. Wolves was the team George Best supported as a boy – he loved the gold kit. Weirdly he never played for them.
We go through the hall into the front lounge, which has a dining room in behind. This is a very typical East Belfast council estate terraced house – built post World War II. George Best grew up here. His mother was a hockey player and he lived here with his brother and sisters before moving to Manchester.
Originally George Best had a trial with local club Gelntoran FC – the team I support in Northern Ireland. But they rejected him saying he was too skinny and slim to make it. Manchester United took the risk and the rest is history…a legend began.
Peter our guide tells us some stories in the lounge before looking briefly into the kitchen and back yard. There was also a small laundry room. The house was EXACTLY the same style as my Granny Blairs house. Which felt odd for me as back in 1999 when my parents were moving house, I spent a few weeks living with Granny just a few streets away as I worked in Tesco in Connswater and Knocknagoney at the time.
There are a lot of family photos adorning the walls and Peter tells us a bit more about the family as we continue the tour.
Next we head up the stairs and the highlight here is the realisation that we are in the bedroom where George Best first woke up, first slept, first dreamt of being a footballer, read his first football books. We stop for photos in each and every room. The bedroom has a Wolves shirt sitting on a chair and is a small room with information about George on a board.
The house is small and so the tour takes around one hour and that’s all you need really. We sign the guest book – Rafał and Julia are the first Polish visitors here to sign it.
The tour has no official price but staying overnight does – the price changes depending on season and how many people in your group. You are recommended to pay the guide £50 for the tour and as a George Best fan this is totally worth it. It is a piece of history and it deserves to be preserved.
We close the door and leave and I feel happy that I have now been inside the house where George Best grew up. It is a super tour – please book it or stay the night and also – George Best despite being rejected was a Glentoran FC fan too. So you can also make a visit to the Glentoran FC stadium The Oval which is nearby. I recommend doing a stadium tour there too and watching a match.
George Best’s playing record (may not be 100% accurate)
These include ALL appearances including charity matches, friendlies and especially testimonials – George LOVED to play in random testimonials. Is there a player in history who wore the shirt of more clubs than George?
1963–1974 Manchester United 361 (137)
1971 – Rangers/Celtic Charity Select 1 (1)
1972 – World XI 1 (1)
1974 Jewish Guild 5 (1)
1974 → Dunstable Town (loan) 1 (0)
1974 West Brom 1 (unknown)
1975 Stockport County 3 (2)
1975–1976 Cork Celtic 3 (0)
1975 Chelsea 1 (unknown)
1976 Los Angeles Aztecs 23 (15)
1976–1977 Fulham 42 (8)
1977–1978 Los Angeles Aztecs 32 (12)
1978–1979 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 28 (6)
1978 Bolton Wanderers 1 (unknown)
1979 Ipswich Town 1 (unknown)
1979 Wrexham 1 (unknown)
1979–1980 Hibernian 17 (3)
1980–1981 San Jose Earthquakes 56 (21)
1981 Middlesbrough 1 (unknown)
1981 Portadown 1 (unknown)
1982 Sea Bee 2 (0)
1982 Hong Kong Rangers 1 (0)
1982 Glentoran 1 (0)
1982 Annagh United 1 (unknown)
1982 FC Valur 1 (0)
1982 KA Akereyri 1 (0)
1982 Dundee 1 (unknown)
1982 Arbroath Vics 1 (2)
1982 Bangor FC 1 (unknown)
1982 George Best All Stars XI v Barnstaple 1 (unknown)
1983 Scone Thistle 1 (1)
1983 Bournemouth 6 (0)
1983 Brisbane Lions 4 (0)
1983 Osborne Park Galeb 1 (1)
1983 Nuneaton Borough 3 (1)
1983 Ballyclare Comrades 1 (0)
1983 Osborn Park Galeb 1 (1)
1983 Newry Town 1 (unknown)
1984 Ballymoney United 1 (2)
1984 Tobermore United 1 (0)
1984 Dee Why 1 (1)
1984 Reading 1 (unknown)
1985 Aston Villa 1 (0)
1986 Workington 1 (0)
1986 Sheffield United 1 (unknown)
1986 LBC Wembley Market 1 (unknown)
1986 Pat Jennings Select 1 (unknown)
1987 Welling United 1 (unknown)
1987 Epsom and Ewell 1 (unknown)
1987 Glasgow Celtic 1 (unknown)
1987 Newhaven 1 (unknown)
1988 George Best Testimonial 1 (2)
1989 Devonport 1 (unknown)
1989 Panini Select XI 1 (unknown)
1989 and 1995 Crewe United 2 (unknown)
1990 Martin O’Neill XI 1 (2)
1991 Manchester United 1 (0)
1992 Queen’s Park Rangers 1 (unknown)
1964–1977 Northern Ireland 37 (9)
Total appearances (probably not 100% accurate) 666
Total goals (also probably not 100% accurate) 230
Here are the details for booking a tour or even staying overnight at George Best’s house in the Cregagh Estate, Belfast, Northern Ireland:
Tourism Development Manager
T: 02890463820 M: 07864251127
Official George Best House Website – https://www.georgebesthouse.com/house-information.
Book a night at George Best’s childhood home – https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/3699345
Here are some videos of our tour of the George Best house in the Cregagh Estate, Belfast, Northern Ireland:
Here are some of my other George Best related videos from my travels:
Here are some excellent videos to show how good George Best really was: