Billy Riot is a very well known face on the Belfast punk scene. He's been
responsible for knocking out and promoting Belfasts only regular punk fanzine
the highly recommended (
Riot On Your Own) for the last 5 years. His hilarious
zine which is produced for FREE covers all the up and coming bands with no
regard for favouritism or back handers. And has literally put Belfast back on a
worldwide map in the process. In recent years he has formed his own band
the Violent Fuckwits and who split but now front HARDCASE they plan
World Domination by the end of the decade or maybe a bit longer if they can't
find a practice pad.
Here Billy pays a poignant tribute to the footballing legend George Best who
grew up in Bills own East Belfast backyard.
For more of this go get the zine. Or you can contact
Billy himself here...


On November 25th 2005 George Best our nation's legendary football playing genius and loveable rogue finally
passed away after what was almost a lifetimes battle against ill health brought on by chronic alcoholism. His doctors
had suggested he would almost certainly die during the previous night but Geordie, being Geordie couldn't even be
relied on to be on time for his own death.  We all knew he'd keep us waiting anyway!

I went to work as usual that morning but couldn't really come to terms with being there and decided to take a half day
and go home. At lunchtime  the inevitable news was released to the press that George had died and my wife
Andrea, son Scotty and I watched the TV screen  with an almost  reverent silence. Scotty had just did his 11 Plus
and was home from school early. Shortly afterwards the Best family made their sad yet dignified statement to the
world's media and despite all my attempts tears trickled down my face and being a man I almost bit the fingers off
that I had between my teeth to stifle any further show of emotion.  Needless to say Scotty said “Why are you
crying daddy? you never cry, I'm not crying son it's just a bit sad! Yes you are, don't lie, what are you crying for?

Georgie Best -The bad times, the good times and the really good times


Well, I wasn't entirely sure myself, it wasn't just the passing of my country's favourite and most famous son. It was
more personal than that, not just for me but for almost every Northern Irish boy  of my generation and many, many
more from elsewhere. In the late 1960's every kid in in the British Isles supported Man. Utd., even me, a diehard
Gooner now of 30 odd years. Thing is though, we didn't support Man Utd, we just followed the dream that one day
we were going to be just like Georgie Best. George was possibly the first television superstar, this at a time when
working class people were only just beginning to own or more likely rent a TV and then it was most certainly black
and white. He possessed a God given genius in his feet, a devilment behind the glint in his eyes and a charisma and
presence on the field that was matched by that off it. Quoting facts and figures regarding his achievements on the
football pitch is pointless as you can't measure pure genius with mere statistics!

At that time football was virtually all there was for baby boom kids in way of entertainment and every game on the
local green or street was started by the inevitable argument, “I wanna be Geordie Best, no I wanna be Geordie,
no you were Best yesterday. Even the bloody goalkeeper took the huff if he couldn't call himself Georgie Best.
Halcyon, naive days when in many respects following the footsteps of East Belfast's gift to the world was our only
real ambition. The swinging decade was not yet past, yet a teenage boy from Cregagh Housing Estate was the
sporting and even social icon that fuelled the wonderment and dreams of people and especially children across the
entire country.

I was George Best! And so were thousands and thousands of others and all we ever cared about was George Best
the legend, the superstar and for us so much more importantly, the Belfast boy. We didn't  care at all that he was an
alcoholic womaniser, or even if he was what some people would deem 'a bad parent' because there's thousands of
them in any big city but only one George Best anywhere!

I didn't bother explaining why to my son what was the real catalyst to my rare show of emotion as Scotty wouldn't
really have understood but as Callum Best bravely and tearfully spoke the inevitable sad truth to the world, Scotty's  
43 year old dad's childhood hopes and aspirations just died in that instant. This sounds overstated and it is,  life is
means much more than childhood dreams but George's passing somehow brought home that there's an inevitable
mortality associated even with the starry eyed hopes and wishes of what seemed, our timeless youth.

The next day, every single football match in the British Isles was preceded by a minutes silence in George's honour.  
The respectful silence was followed by applause the length and breadth of the land with the exception of Leeds
United fans who's pathetic jealously and skin-crawling envy shone through, as they jeered and whistled throughout
before their game at Millwall . Regardless, the footballing public and press scraped them off the bottom of their
shoes like the shite they are and treated them with the absolute disdain they deserve.

The inevitable media circus followed with tributes abounding from everyone and everywhere , eulogising as to the
flawed genius of the greatest player the world has perhaps ever seen. What do mean perhaps! Well you will always
get people arguing that Pele was better, Maradona was better or even Johan Cruyff! Take it from me, none of them
could touch him, they hadn't genuine star quality off the pitch, they were luminary football stars yes but they didn't
look like George Best, smile like Georgie Best, they hadn't the ridiculous flair of Bestie, none of `em were from
BELFAST and none of them belonged to us!

George Best was buried  on 3rd Dec 2005 after the biggest funeral Northern Ireland has ever witnessed and almost
definitely ever will. Thousands upon thousands of people lined the streets and roads of my home in East Belfast as
the funeral cortege drove slowly and reverently to Stormont, our grand parliament building. The Best family circle
conducted themselves with great dignity throughout the entire time. Dickie his 86 year old dad cut the most
poignant  figure, being a man of a certain generation, always just managing to keep his emotions in check
throughout the entire difficult week. Dicky is an old school working class man who many moons ago used to regularly
watch the Raven dart team when my own dad played for them. This is perhaps irrelevant to everyone else but it still
means something to me.     
Along the funeral route to Stormont there were many tears shed by those who lined the route but mostly everyone
stood in the miserable driving rain and cold wind to celebrate the life and times of a legend, no not a legend our
legend! Behind the reverence almost everyone I could see had a glow off pride as his coffin passed by. Irrespective
of the fact that George died as a result of alcoholism, largely speaking we as couldn't really care less and I've no
doubt whatsoever that many us went out that night and got completely pissed off our heads in tribute to our Geordie!
East Belfast
George Best the legend in action
George Best Mural East Belfast