We catch up with the Northamp­ton team de­mol­ished by Ge­orge Best

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Neil Fissler

GE­ORGE BEST felt harshly treated by the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion af­ter he was banned for four weeks and fined £100 by kick­ing the ball out of the hands of a ref­eree.

Un­for­tu­nately for the Cob­bers, it was they who were in the fir­ing line when he re­turned from his month of stew­ing on the side­lines.

He re­garded the in­ci­dent at the end of a League Cup tie against Man­ches­ter City as noth­ing more than a mo­ment of high spir­its, but the FA took a dim view.

As a re­sult, Best put on one of his most mes­meris­ing dis­plays scor­ing six goals as United ran out 8-2 win­ners in an FA Cup fifth round tie.

Frank Rankmore, who missed a penalty when Northamp­ton were 3-0 down, points out it wasn’t un­til an hour be­fore the game that they knew Best was play­ing.

“Do you have to re­mind me about that game?” laughs Rankmore. “Ge­orge was mag­nif­i­cent that day, to be fair. We cer­tainly knew he was a ge­nius af­ter the game.

“There was a bit of a palaver in Man­ches­ter about whether he should play or not, and the ru­mour that reached us was that they weren’t go­ing to se­lect him. We knew that he was with the team when they ar­rived, but we knew he was play­ing for sure only when they handed in the team sheet.

“He had a point to prove that they were right to play him – and we were on the end of it .

“The whole game re­volved around Ge­orge Best.”

At the time Northamp­ton were back in the Fourth Di­vi­sion, hav­ing risen to the top flight be­fore drop­ping down again al­most as quickly.


They had seen of Wey­mouth, Brent­wood, then Ex­eter City af­ter two re­plays, and Tran­mere af­ter another re­play to earn the tie against United.

And, even though United were in­con­sis­tent dur­ing that cam­paign, they proved to be far too good for Northamp­ton, thanks to the Best in­spi­ra­tion.

“The build-up was very good,” said Rankmore.

“We had a de­cent side at the time and had been play­ing as a team and get­ting some good re­sults.

“We had achieved some very good re­sults to get to play United.

“But, at the start of the week, there was a doubt about the game be­cause the pitch was un­der wa­ter.

“But it proved to be playable. And, if I’m hon­est, we should re­ally have taken the lead be­fore United scored and then later I missed a penalty.

“Re­ally, we had at least one or two play­ers who were a lit­tle over­awed by the pres­ence of Ge­orge Best. There is no doubt about it.

“It is cer­tainly one of those games that you don’t for­get, es­pe­cially be­cause Ge­orge de­cided he wanted to pun­ish us for be­ing sus­pended by the FA.” lives in re­tire­ment in Woot­ton, Northamp­ton­ton­shire. 6. Kim Book: Goal­keeper and brother of Man­ches­ter City leg­end Tony, who lives in his na­tive Bath, where he has run a build­ing com­pany. His son, Steve, played for Chel­tenham Town. 7. Neil Townsend: Eng­land youth cen­tral de­fender who lives in Northamp­ton where he has run a health stu­dio and gym be­fore work­ing for Se­curi­cor. 8. Eric Brookes: Eng­land youth in­ter­na­tional now liv­ing in Glin­ton, Peter­bor­ough, and worked lo­cally for diesel en­gine man­u­fac­turer Cum­mins UK. 9. Phil Neal: Eng­land full-back who man­aged Bolton, Coven­try City, Cardiff City and Man­ches­ter City be­fore be­com­ing a pun­dit for ra­dio and tele­vi­sion. 10. John Fair­brother: A striker who be­came a ho­tel main­te­nance man and then ran a fam­ily build­ing busi­ness from his base in Hemel Hemp­stead, Hert­ford­shire.

FRONT ROW 11. Ray Fair­fax: A right-back who be­came as­sis­tant sec­re­tary at WBA and then club sec­re­tary at Port Vale be­fore join­ing the ticket of­fice staff at As­ton Villa un­til re­tir­ing. 12. Joe Kier­nan: Served as the Cob­blers youth team man­ager be­fore be­com­ing a painter and dec­o­ra­tor. He died in Au­gust 2006, aged 66. 13. Keith East: A striker who set­tled in the Ep­som area of Sur­rey, where he has worked as a sales­man in the car in­dus­try. 14. Frank Rankmore: Welsh in­ter­na­tional who be­came a pub­li­can for two years be­fore re­turn­ing to his na­tive Cardiff, where he worked as a tool­maker un­til re­tir­ing. 15. John McGleish: A winger who set­tled in the Northamp­ton area be­fore re­turn­ing to live in his na­tive Air­drie, La­nark­shire. 16. Peter Hawkins: Welsh school­boy in­ter­na­tional striker who has set­tled in the Wey­mouth area, where he has run his own busi­ness in the cater­ing in­dus­try. 17. Eric Ross: A North­ern Ire­land in­ter­na­tional mid­fielder who set­tled in Canada in the 1970s, work­ing as an es­tate agent in the Van­cou­ver area.

NOT PIC­TURED Bernie Fa­gan: Winger who set­tled in the United States, where he coached FC Port­land and now runs his own suc­cess­ful youth camps. Brian Knight: Mid­fielder who set­tled in the Northamp­ton area, where he runs a golf­ing hol­i­day busi­ness, Tar­leton Travel. Des McPart­land: Goal­keeper who be­came an en­gi­neer with Haigh and Rin­grose and the Bab­cock Group but died from lung can­cer in April 2006, aged 58. Gor­don Mor­ritt: Goal­keeper who set­tled in York­shire and be­came a se­cu­rity man­ager for a com­pany based in York un­til re­tir­ing.

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