10/09/2013 13:10
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Opposition view

Visit the George Best 50 years section

Those in attendance at Old Trafford on 14 September 1963 will always be able to say they were there for George Best's United debut. 

Two men with an even better story, however, are the players who marked him on that day: West Bromwich Albion full-backs Graham Williams and Campbell Crawford. They spoke to the club's official magazine, Inside United (on sale Wednesday 11 September), about that momentous occasion...

Graham Williams
The Baggies’ left-back was charged with marking Best on the day, which he duly did – in more ways than one!

"We’d heard a bit about George already – he’d played against us in the Reserves and, if a 17-year-old makes a debut, there’s always a bit of extra interest – but I wasn’t worried about playing against him as he was just a kid!

“When the game started, he only stayed on my side for about 15 minutes. He didn’t get a kick... except from me! After that, he just played where he wanted, got involved with the game – and that was where you got a glimpse of how good he might be.

“Over the years it became a standing joke when we met that I’d say, ‘George, nice to see you from the front for a change!’ He’d reply with, ‘Graham, I’ve still got your autograph down the back of my leg!’

“George was a thoroughbred – he would skim the surface, run on the top of the ground, while the rest of us were ploughing through mud in midwinter. 

“He had incredible balance, so you just could not knock him off the ball. And, with the ball at his feet, he could make it do anything that he wanted.

“George just wanted to play, he was in love with the game. We ended up on holiday in the same resort in Minorca one year. I was with my family, he was with some friends, and he liked nothing more than getting on the beach, getting a ball out and playing. He would play all day if you let him. He babysat my kids – he played with them on the beach, so my mother-in-law loved him! She treated him like a son.

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