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Simply the Best at Knowsley Road!

Is there a link between Saints and the great George Best? The biographical film about the turbulent life of George Best, titled, somewhat imaginatively, ‘Best,’ was partly filmed at Knowsley Road, especially for the football scenes. Produced in 2000, one of the reasons for using our ground was the Eccleston Kop, which doubled for the famous Stretford End at Old Trafford. There was a wooden fence put in front of the existing concrete wall to enhance this effect. Manchester United was painted at the back of the Kop. A replica of the Munich commemorative clock was put on the back of the Main Stand and the concourse next to the Stand at the Dunriding Lane end was bedecked in Manchester United flags and a large U-N-I-T-E-D montage on the back of the terracing fence.

The dressing room area was totally transformed, with a blackboard showing Manager Matt Busby’s team selections and older-style training lamps were erected on the Training pitch, where quite a few shots were filmed. The Director’s Box was transformed into Wembley’s Royal Box, for the presentation of the European Cup and the TV gantry on the Popular Side was the Wembley Stadium Scoreboard. Many tonnes of sand were dumped onto the pitch to create the ‘behind-the-goal’ area at Wembley.

For the record, the film (15) was directed by Mary McGuckian and lasted a total of 102 minutes. Local extras were taken on for the football scenes, giving the film an added interest.

The main character roles were as follows: George Best – John Lynch; Angie Best – Patsy Kensit; Sir Matt Busby – Ian Bannen; Nobby Stiles – Ian Hart; Bobby Charlton – Jerome Flynn; Denis Law – Linus Roache; Rodney Marsh – Roger Daltrey.

Production of the film gave the club much-needed income in the closed season and it is another aspect of our ground’s history we can celebrate, especially given the sad nature of George Best’s recent demise.

Footnote: Nobby Stiles and Bobby Charlton did appear in a testimonial soccer match for John Mantle at Knowsley Road.

Written by Alex Service - Photos by Alex Service.
























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