Taken from Quality: Manchester gangster tales of the sixties
ROMEO IN FOOTBALL BOOTS
‘George, have you been listening to a damn word I’ve been telling you?’ A raging Matt Busby has spent the last five minutes in his Old Trafford office venting his spleen at the twenty-year old Irish genius George Best, who is clearly not taking the slightest bit of notice.
‘Er, yes boss.’
‘Well then what have I just said’?
Best shrugs his shoulders. He cannot answer. His mind elsewhere on a dark haired, beauty called Susan from Bowdon, who he has been seeing quite a lot of lately. Sarah has telephoned too say she has a surprise for him, so they are meeting later for lunch.
‘Busby leans back in the chair and throws his pen on the desk. ’What time did you go to bed last night’? Best scratches his head; he dare not tell the boss the truth.
‘About half past ten boss.’
‘Oh really’? smiles Busby. He reaches for a notepad, puts on a pair of glasses and looks up towards Best ‘These are all after you supposedly were tucked up in bed George.’
Busby starts to read off the paper. ‘You were spotted with Mr Michael Summerbee in the following. Ten-forty-five in the Grapes. Eleven-fifteen in the Twisted Wheel. Twelve-ten in the Jigsaw club. Ah, it appears young Summerbee has now had the sense to go home. But not you George. It goes on. One o’clock in Mr Smiths and finally at the ripe old time of one-forty-five you were witnessed staggering out of the Jigsaw club, with two blond ladies very kindly holding you up.’
The old man is slipping thinks Best, because one of the girls was a brunette.
‘So what have you to say for yourself,’? asks Busby.
I’m sorry boss, it won’t happen again,’ replies Best, in his most apologetic voice.
‘Get out George and straight home. You need to rest up because we have Benfica coming up in the European cup soon, and I don’t need to tell you what this competition means to me and this club’? We’ll need you at your very best against the Portuguese. Never forget this competition nearly broke Manchester United, George. We owe it to the lads who lost their lives at Munich to win it.’
‘I’ll be ready for the Stadium of Light. I promise you.’
‘Good lad,’ smiles Busby. Again finding it hard to stay mad for any length of time at this young boy from Belfast, who constantly drives him to despair, only then to make his heart soar time and again on a football pitch. And for a man such as Busby still haunted by the loss of lads he considered sons in the air crash, such moments are treasured and needed.
A nervous eighteen-year old Susan Foyle is in love and a week late for her period. She sits waiting for George Best at a corner table, in a small and quiet side street café in Hale village in Cheshire. George is her boyfriend, or at least she likes to thinks so, for they have only been out together twice.
The first time Susan told him she was not that kind of girl. Whilst on the second date, feeling he was getting bored with her, Susan gave in. She has convinced herself that once George discovers her little secret, he will declare undying love and ask for Susan’s hand in marriage. At least she hopes so, for if he dares say no and her father finds out, Lenny Foyle will personally break both his legs.
Susan hears the unique purring engine of George’s E Type Jaguar pulling up outside.
He looks up, spots her through the window and waves. Sarah takes a deep breath as a grinning George enters the café. Luckily she is the only customer. He kisses Susan on the cheek and sits down facing. ’You look tired George.’
He smiles.’ The boss has been overdoing us in training. He’s a bloody slave driver.’
‘So it’s nothing to do with all the stories in the newspaper then. The late nights and all those other girls’?
You know you’re the only girl for me Susan,’ he replies, with that twinkle in his eye she simply cannot resist. Her Romeo in football boots. She thinks best to hit George early with the news.
She grabs his hand on the table. ‘I have something to tell you.’
George hopes the news is Susan fancies a repeat of the last time they met up. So let her say she loves him and they can get on with it.
‘Well come on then, tell me. I love surprises.’ He squeezes Susan’s hand tight.
‘George I think I’m pregnant.’
He swiftly lets go. The words hitting him like a left hook off Cassius Clay.
‘Does it matter’? snaps Susan. Her heart breaking at his question and the look of horror currently etched on George’s face.
‘Of course it does. We can sort this Susan. I know people.’
‘What kind of people’? She knows what he is hinting at but wants George to come out and say it.
‘Oh come on Susan,’ he replies angrily. ‘Do you want me to spell it out for you’?
At this she fails to stem the tears. ‘Fuck you George’! she screams. That said a sobbing Susan stands and races out of the café. George contemplates going after her, but only for a moment.
The door opens and Susan reappears to point an accusing finger towards a startled looking George. ‘Just you wait till my Dad hears about this George Best.
Just you wait’!
Her piece said she steps back out, banging the door behind her.
Suddenly the penny drops with George. ‘Lenny Foyle?
Extract from ‘Quality’, available on Amazon now.