Why old games make the Best company: Neil Humphreys
Covid-19 forces us to wallow in football nostalgia, which is a welcome distraction from the absence of live matches
Here comes Best again. What a player this boy is. He's got another. What a player.
George Best dances through the Benfica defence. He rolls in his second in Manchester United's 1966 European Cup tie and a legend is born.
The commentary repeats itself as the clip is played again. Every word, every move, every flickering black and white image is seared in the memory.
Best performs his magic act on a loop, just for me, until the tedium of isolation briefly slips away.
The social butterfly from yesterday's Old Trafford distracts from the social distancing of today's new world.
Best isn't the footballer that a non-Manchester United supporter particularly wants right now.
But he is the kind of footballer that is needed.
When the present is so grim, we turn to greatness in the past. Old football is a welcome distraction from no live football.
Anything is better than nothing.
Of course, nostalgia can be a peculiar beast. It is viewed through the prism of a biased memory.
The wins were usually worthier, the defeats unfair and the quality of football off the charts.
Looking back runs the risk of disappointment. Games were slower. Pitches were heavier and most footballers looked old enough to be Cristiano Ronaldo's dad.
But they are there, right in front of us, on a George Best documentary, on laptops and phones, like comfort food for addicts going cold turkey.
In the last week alone, I've watched the Best programme, season two of Sunderland 'Til I Die, a documentary about famous Argentines who played for Tottenham Hotspur in the 1970s and loads of Brian Clough interviews.
United, Sunderland, Tottenham, Nottingham Forest and Derby County are not particularly favoured sides.
But they are an escape.
Aside from a global pandemic, a lockdown and no live sport, the current state of English football isn't particularly appealing either.
As Newcastle United fans engage in the worst case of football "whataboutery" since Sheffield United or Manchester City or Wolverhampton Wanderers or West Ham United - it's a long list - a consortium that includes Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Salman is finalising a deal to buy the Magpies.
Meanwhile, English Premier League executives seem more anxious to complete the season before June 30 to satisfy playing contracts, rather than focus on the health of long-suffering ATMs (the fans) that keep the product afloat.
No wonder there's an eagerness to return to simpler coronavirus-free times.
As long as we have a sofa, a laptop, a TV set and a decent Wi-Fi connection - and some Singaporeans didn't even have that over the weekend - we have a chance to wallow in a warm bath of classic football.
And we're not alone in this.
On his latest video with Liverpool FC, manager Juergen Klopp encouraged his players to share their favourite clips of the last year in their WhatsApp group.
Naturally, most shared footage from those crazy, hazy European nights.
Why obsess over a domestic season that threatens to be stuck with a limpet-like asterisk when there's a chance to get momentarily lost in a continental triumph for the ages?
Last week, Gary Lineker live- tweeted through a replay of England's crushing semi-final defeat (4-3 on penalties, after a 1-1 draw) by the West Germans at Italia '90, which was shown on British TV.
The 30-year-old match trended on Twitter.
On Saturday nights in the UK, Lineker's TV staple, Match of the Day, has been replaced with the likes of Ian Wright and Alan Shearer picking top-10 lists or the greatest matches of their respective careers.
The programmes are generating decent viewing figures, despite the obvious lack of contemporary footage or anything vaguely unexpected. That's the point.
Whether it's classic movies, episodes of Friends or Gary Neville going through career highlights with retired icons, nostalgia is one of the few growth industries to flourish during Covid-19.
As always, there's a downside to any addiction.
That comforting mix of sentimentality and a yearning for better days fuelled Brexit, the current American Presidency and a rise of nativist politics.
Fortunately, there doesn't appear to be an underlying desire to Make Football Great Again or reduce the free movement of foreign players.
We're just keen to argue over VAR lines again at some point.
Until then, I'm happy to return to my warm rabbit hole of YouTube clips involving an impish kid from Belfast beating Benfica on his own.
If we can't have football today, there's no harm settling for the Best of yesterday.