“I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered…”
Tribalism is such a big part of football that it sometimes seems impossible to look at any aspect of the beautiful game with something approaching an unbiased eye. My own deep loathing of Manchester United for example is hilariously and hysterically over the top for a thirty year old supposed man. There are brief moments however when something transcends this petty squabbling to remind us of why we all watch the game in the first place. Step forward George Best…
The glorious rise and subsequent tragic fall of George Best are well documented but nobody has yet captured the highs and lows of a legend as well as director Daniel Gordon. The Yorkshire filmmaker has already captured an iconic football saga on film with his heartbreaking documentary Hillsborough, and while George Best: All By Himself is not quite as affecting as that film, it still has plenty of overbearingly sad moments.
To focus on the dark side of Best’s personality though would be to ignore his spark of genius that burned brightly but briefly. In his 6 years or so at the top of his profession, he achieved everything that can be achieved in club football and left Manchester United as a bona fide legend. A man who can still claim to be one of the esteemed clubs best ever players. Certainly one of the most popular. Gordon captures this era perfectly with archive footage of some of Best’s goals as well as interviews with his teammates and friends.
It is not particularly shocking to hear the details of Best’s demise as they have been well documented elsewhere, but the decision to have Best himself narrating his dark years, using candid past interviews, lends an emotional resonance and tragedy to an already sombre story.
George Best was more than just a footballer. He was a fashion icon, a hero, a Northern Irishman and a drunk. All By Himself gives us equal shades of each aspect of Best’s life to produce a story that will be repeated for years to come, on and off the terraces.