Manchester and Belfast pay tribute to George Best

By Sarah Lagan

As George Best slipped away on Friday, the Belfast Telegraph carried
more than 30 pages of special features, backgrounders and pictures.

Editor Martin Lindsay said: “It was all just sitting there waiting
to go, but George was hanging on despite what his consultant said. I
said on Friday morning ‘whatever we decide now we stick with it and
don’t lose our nerve. We’ll run everything, but not say he’s dead’.”

When
he died at around 1pm the front page was recalled and “George Best 1946
to 2005” was placed next to the Best quote “Remember me for my
football” as a headline.

The Telegraph produced 35,000 copies of a standalone Best supplement.

This weekend the paper’s Saturday sports paper Ireland’s Saturday Night will be turned into a Best tribute edition.

At
the Manchester Evening News, Friday’s third edition was off stone at
12pm and the paper used five pages of obituary background and included
a poster front page. When news came of his death an hour later, the
paper re-plated to deliver the news.

Saturday’s issue carried
another poster front page with a montage of pictures of Best throughout
his career, four news pages, three sports pages and a centre-spread
poster. Editor Paul Horrocks estimated that the issue boosted sales by
10 to 15 per cent.

Horrocks said of Best’s time in Manchester:
“It’s incredible that journalists could get access to somebody like
George Best as he had his bacon and egg breakfast with Mrs Fullaway at
her digs in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. We looked back at a ‘day in the life’
feature one of our reporters, Ian Fowler, did on Best and made a
comparison to what a day in the life of Wayne Rooney would be like and
how little access you would get today to someone like that.”

One copy of Friday’s MEN, normally priced 10p, is currently being auctioned for £7.50 on eBay.

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