Own goals

I distinctly remember seeing that streak of red and black shimmy down the left wing against the fluoresceine green of Old Trafford (no-one had colour tv in 1968, but the electron guns of my imagination were always set to maximum stun). Head down, flexing shoulders somewhere beneath his flapping shirt, white cuffs akimbo, he would slyly glance to a defender’s left..right…..left and then dart unexpectedly away from the ball he’d passed a second ago -whilst they spectated, half inclined to fear, half to applause.

By the time he reappeared, the ball was spinning against the distant net, on the end of his signature parabola.

For my generation he was certainly the best: a view he shared undiplomatically with Pele. He was our champion, our only true winner in a period when we were learning to be ashamed of ourselves. Nobody could identify with Mary Peters in quite the same way (and she was really English anyway, it was darkly rumored). Geordie could have been a catholic, he really was THAT good.

As for his lifestyle, how we aspired in my class to an E-type, sideburns and sex with Miss World (Actually, I’d have settled for the sideburns).

Pity about the drink, the Cookstown adverts, all those divorces, that wasted talent.

Why the self hatred, I wonder. We never met, so how come I miss him so much?