AFTER GEORGE BEST left Manchester United in 1974, he became something of a journeyman.
His name was on the books of 18 other teams over the next decade following his parting from Old Trafford.
In between spells at Stockport County – in English football’s fourth Division – and the Los Angeles Aztects, Best moonlighted for a month in the League of Ireland.
On December 28, 1975, he made his debut for Cork Celtic against Drogheda United.
Celtic then played in Flower Lodge, but they played Drogheda at Turner’s Cross – present day home of Cork City – as it had a bigger capacity.
Best, who was on around £600 a game, attracted a crowd of approximately 12,000, but failed to sparkle and Celtic crashed to a 2-0 defeat.
With Celtic agreeing that it was worthwhile paying Best to appear for them – he was on a rolling contract at the club – he was again flown in for a game against Bohemians.
Celtic won the game one-nil but again Best was but a pale shadow of the superstar who won the European Cup with Manchester United in 1968.
Cork Celtic’s next two games were away from home.
The arrangement was in place that Best wouldn’t play in away games unless Cork would benefit from the gate receipts, which would swell substantially with his presence.
He played in a 2-1 defeat to Shelbourne at Harold’s Cross.
In between the Bohemians and Shelbourne games, Cork Celtic had a long away trip to the League leaders in store.
The club at the top was unwilling to part with a percentage of their gate receipts for the privilege of hosting Best.
Finn Harps were the club at the head of the pile at the time. Without Best, Cork won 3-1 and Harps would finish that season second, four points behind the winners, Dundalk.
It wasn’t the first time that Ballybofey missed out on hosting Best.
A challenge game between Harps and Manchester United was arranged in 1973, and United were due to play at Finn Park on Saturday 11th November ’73.
Everything was in place and the match tickets were printed, but the game never took place.
Best’s League of Ireland career was over when he failed to turn up for a game against Waterford United.
Waterford had Bobby Charlton – who formed the Holy Trinity at United alongside Best and Denis Law – on their books and the meeting of Waterford and Cork City saw interest go through the roof.
Best pulled out of the game, citing a bout of flu, and he he was soon onto his next stop, Los Angeles.
Ten years ago today, on November 25, 2005, Best passed away, aged 59, as a result of a lung infection and multiple organ failure.Tags: