Sunday, 13 January 2008

Football, Fame and Oblivion

Its not often that I make my way to the local library, preferring to buy books for future reference and reading. However, recently the local library was paid a visit and I came away with a number of books*, one of them being Best and Edwards: Football, Fame and Oblivion by Gordon Burn (Faber and Faber, 2006). Best and Edwards tells the story of two of the greatest talents to ever pull on a Manchester United jersey, George Best and Duncan Edwards and how both their careers ended in dramatic fashion. Edwards, who died in the Munich air disaster of 1958 and Best, who quit United at the age of 27 and then proceeded to drink himself into oblivion for the next 30 years.

Edwards, who died at the age of 21, was considered by many to be the greatest talent going around. It is said that if he hadn't died in Munich, we would be speaking of him now in the same breadth as Pele and Maradona. Best, will be forever known as Northern Ireland's greatest ever player and described by Pele as the most skillful he had ever seen and remember he had played with Garincha. Best was part of a team that made Manchester United a force in Europe, culminating in the European Cup title in 1968. What links these two men is that the both played under United great, Sir Matt Busby, who is quoted on the dust jacket of the book as saying:
"Every manager goes through life looking for one great player, praying he'll find one. Just one. I was more lucky than most. I found two - Big Duncan and George. I suppose in their own ways, the both died, didn't they?"
The book is basically divided into two, the first covers the brief but brilliant career of Edwards and the second, the rise and then fall of Best. The chapters on Best highlight the cult of celebrity of footballers that basically started with Best and clearly illustrates its downfalls if the player is unable to deal with it. Burn in his writing can tend be a little winded at times. Chapter 6 is a case in point which drags on for a sometimes tedious sixty pages. Interspersed amongst the stories of the two players are extracts from books used to demonstrate certain points which only seem to demonstrate Burn's mostly fictional writing background. These are a bit unnecessary and detracts from what else is a fairly good book.

This book will probably be mostly appeal to fans of British football and Manchester United. It is also good starting point for those who want to know more about these two talented players, but for a more detailed description of their playing days is mostly likely to found elsewhere.

Coincidentally, this is the 100th post I have written for Victory In Melbourne in 242 days, therefore averaging a post every 2.42 days. Some have been good, some bad, some so-so and some difficult to write whilst others have been easy. Thankyou to all who choose to read my writings and occasional rantings, hopefully you stay with me for another 100 posts or more.

* - one of the others was Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby - will be reading that one shortly.


Blogger Hamish said...

ks for the review. I love book reviews.

Enjoy Fever Pitch! It's brill.

15 January 2008 at 08:57  
Anonymous wayne said...

massive effort Neil! here's to the next 100...

16 January 2008 at 19:49  
Anonymous watt said...

Thanks for the review, very interesting.

How was the trip? Did you get converted to active support? are you going to come to the terrace next year? :)

21 January 2008 at 23:39  
Blogger Neil said...


Away trip was excellent. Both myself and my girlfriend had a ball. Active support is definitely looking likely next season or even for the ACL for me. Maybe not every week as it depends on who I go to the game with but I will be definitely making my way to the northern terrace to join in the active support. Will post shortly on our experience at the game - haven't had time since we arrive back.

22 January 2008 at 09:13  

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