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30. Football

Tapehead no 30

This week: sex, football and television – the finest three words in the English language.
Goal TV – a truly beautiful concept – has many highlights, a whole night of highlights: John Burridge, David Icke, and Albert Camus (goal-keeping, L’Etranger); David Coleman introducing highlights of the 1962 Chile v Italy match as “the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition possibly in the history of the game”; Kenneth Wolstenholme describing Bobby Charlton’s goal against Spurs as “a goal good enough to win the league, the Cup, the World Cup, and even the Grand National.”
But the star of the BBC’s night of football mania is Tapehead’s first love, the subject of the best programme of the night, a classic Hugh McIlvanney documentary profiling the sexiest player ever to grace a British football pitch.
Welcome to the World of Georgie Best circa 1970, when Best, his dazzling blue eyes smoldering amidst a shock of black hair, still looked like a cross between Warren Beatty and Prince.
Best is shown at home (with Mrs Fullaway, his landlady), at one of his boutiques (with a chick smoking what looks like a white opium pipe) and a genuine discotheque (the night before a game) wearing an outrageous pink tie-dye T-shirt that no mere mortal could get away with.
“A person who doesn’t like him,” says the barman, “just doesn’t know him.”
“There’s a self-confident coolness about him,” McIlvanney purrs with awe, “that unnerves some men and fascinates most women.”
Best himself recalls years of defenders trying to break his legs: “The only way to get back at them is to make them feel so inferior that they never want to play another game of football again in their lives.”
George Best did this at will. The best moment is The Ball is Round is also (unsurprisingly) from Best. Just after The Fall’s Mark E Smith has described the way that Best used to do nothing for 85 minutes then suddenly amaze, we see a clip, a black and white clip, of absolute genius.
Best taunts the opposition with the ball like a matador, and then, when they rush him, shimmies past them and elegantly tries to chip the keeper from 40 yards – just for the hell of it.
The Ball Is Round is about the pain, passion and exhilaration of being a football fan, and includes the love of Tapehead’s life, Billie Whitelaw, and a groovy sociologist who summarises football as “a game for poets.”
A bewildered Everton fan explains how (unwittingly) he now knows where all the league’s referees come from.
“Like, when people say P. Don to me, I just say Anworth Park.”
Another mad fan’s passion for football grounds has got so great he’s started ticking off non-league grounds too.
“He has a peccadillo for photographing corner flags,” explains his mate.
Sadder still is the Middlesbrough fan that asked his mate: “Do you play Subbuteo against yourself? Well, do you find that the team you want to win often loses ?”
Not many sights on a football pitch get sexier than Best or the sight of Mrs Tapehead singing Chelsea’s Celery song but soccer supremo, Mike Alway and Douglas Hart’s film Brazil 1970: The Sexiest Kick-off, captures one of them.
Not only were Brazil 1970’s goals better than anyone else’s (Brazil’s fourth goal against Italy, by Carlos Alberto is about as total as total football gets), their names (Rivelino, Jairzinho) were cooler into the bargain. Better yet, Brazil ’70 has a clip where Brigitte Bardot strides out to the centre-circle in fur coat, boots and hot pants and kicks off.
Pure sex. Pure football. Pure television.

All BBC2 Bank Holiday Monday
Brazil 1970: The Sexiest Kick-off: 7.35pm-7.45pm
The World of George Best: 8.05pm-8.30pm
Chile vs. Italy 1962: 9pm-9.05pm
The Ball Is Round: 9.05pm-9.45pm
Football Hell: 9.45pm-9.55pm