I’m not quite sure how I’m managing to type this. My arms feel like lead and my hands and fingers are sore. The reason? Well me and Mrs P had one of our very occasional trips to Old Trafford tonight to watch ManU play Portsmouth. And of course it was played on the day that George Best was laid to rest.
The cause of my discomfort was the one minute round of applause to celebrate his skill. Sixty seconds of relentlessly working clapping muscles that haven’t had a lot of practice. Well you feel daft giving it large when you’re watching games at home on the telly. And it frightens the dog.
Then there were “Stand up if you love George Best” moments of more prolonged applause during the game. Yep, my arms got quite a workout.
But I’m not complaining. It was a fitting tribute to one of my heroes, albeit one with an Achilles liver. And I confess there was a tear in my eye when the teams ran out to “Georgie, Georgie, they call you the Belfast Boy” but then I remember it first time round. Oh how us old folk rattle on!
Moving on, this was our first trip to the Theatre of Dreams this season and the main difference from last year is that there is now a smoking ban throughout the whole stadium, in the concourse as well as in the stadium itself.
It seemed to be pretty well observed and policed, at least in our bit of the North Stand. There was a faint whiff in the bar area at half-time, but one bloke who lit up was approached by stewards and given the chance to stub it out or be ejected.
As mentioned previously, I’ve been watching footie for a long time. For me, the “smell” of matchday was distinctive. Squashed up on the Stretford End, it consisted of cigarette smoke mingled with beery breath, unwashed bodies from those who came straight from work after stopping off at the pub and more than the occasional fart.
I’ll not go into the other aromas — programmes used to pee through. Not me I hasten to add. Beer had not passed my lips at the time. But beery urine mingled with the smell of cooked onions from the burger and hotdog stands made for an unforgettable scent.
But back to Georgie, not that I’ve strayed too far arguably. We arrived at the ground early today and took time to look at the tributes left. Mrs P was moved because, like me, she remembers the GB who was and not the one he became. Georgie the Belfast Boy.