Performers play young and old versions of East Belfast icon George Best on guided tours of his former family home in Burren Way

The spirit of George Best is brought to life in new dramatized tours of his former home in east Belfast.

Two actors played young and old versions of the star as they guided visitors through the Cregagh estate home.

Best’s sister Barbara took a trip down memory lane on the first tour, and other visitors to Number 16 Burren Way have included Cat King Michael Parkinson, Carl Frampton and former Chelsea player Joe Cole .

The Bests moved into the terraced house as a new build in 1948, when George was 18 months old. It was not until the death of his father, Dickie, in April 2008 that the family’s connection to the property was severed.

The regeneration charity EastSide Partnership bought the house a few years later. Since then, it has been rented out countless times by football fans through Airbnb, and it will soon be used as the setting for a new short film.

The property has received what has been described as a “retro renovation” for tours, filling it with furniture from 1961, when Best still lived there.

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George geared up for Northern Ireland

An alley to the side of the house has been covered and painted with a timeline of the footballer’s glory days, as well as a quote from the late Pelé, who considered Best the greatest player in the world.

There is also an audio guide based on Barbara’s memories and narrated by her daughter, Jenny.

Pictures of George’s career and family are dotted throughout the house, including one of four generations of top men – grandfather Jock, father Dickie, George and son Calum.

Copies of George’s school reports, including one praising his needlework, are available to guests, along with letters he sent to his parents during his Manchester debut.

Visitors can also expect drama that moves from room to room.

I was invited on one of the tours as Stephen Beggs and Neil Heaney played George at different stages of his life.

It all started with guide Peter McCabe, who looks after the property, giving us an inside look.

It didn’t look big enough to throw a cat in it, let alone raise a family that would eventually consist of four girls and two boys, even though they didn’t all live under the same roof at the same time. .

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Stephen and Neil in George’s old room

The theatrical tour, which had its first outing as part of last year’s EastSide Arts Festival, began in the living room, where the elder George (played by Beggs, who crafted the drama) addressed the guests.

He said the room was the center of family life, with loved ones gathering around the open fire. He also recounted how his father had sat in the “big sacred chair”, and how the children were jostling to occupy it each time he got up.

“George” remembered how the family enjoyed watching TV shows such as Emergency Ward 10 and Z-Cars, featuring James Ellis from Belfast.

“Watching James Ellis on national television made me think, ‘If he can go from east Belfast in England to be in Z-Cars, what’s to stop me playing football there- low? he said.

He also recounted how the television once caught fire and the family’s lucky escape, explaining:
“The fact that we weren’t badly burned or even electrocuted was a miracle. But even more miraculous is that dad had the whole thing repaired.

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Stephen and Neil play George at different stages of his life

Later, young George appeared in the alley along the timeline and spoke fondly of how his mother, Ann, washed the kits for her team – Cregagh Boys Club, who played nearby – and hung them up to dry, making sure all the socks were hanging in the same direction.

He also recounted how a thrown match that landed on a bag of clothes Ms Best had collected for the ragpicker caught fire sending smoke throughout the house.

In the kitchen, the elder George recalled a house party after a scoreless draw, in which he played, for Northern Ireland against Russia at Windsor Park in 1969.

“The place was packed and Michael Parkinson was there to interview my parents in the house,” he said.

“My mother was asked about me and women, and she told Michael that I would tell the good guys from the bad guys.”

He said one of his favorite treats was the “perfect” white toast his mother used to make under the broiler.

He also praised his parents for the sacrifices they made to put food on the table and how they hated waste.

Upstairs in his bedroom, young George wore the yellow jersey of his childhood heroes, Wolverhampton Wanderers, which he used to watch on live TV coverage of European games in the 1950s.

He told how Irish clubs like Glentoran and English sides like Leeds United had sent scouts to watch him play, but they turned him down because they thought he was too small. Manchester United showed more interest, however, after scout Bob Bishop sent a telegram to the club saying he thought he had “found a genius”.

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Ivan Little takes the timeline into account

Afterwards, young George told guests how he and another Belfast football hopeful, Eric McMordie, fled Manchester due to homesickness.

He decided to heed Matt Busby’s invitation to return to Old Trafford, and the rest, as they say, is history.

George’s house has become a real tourist attraction. Presenter Rajan Datar recorded a report on the property for the BBC Travel Show, saying spending a night there was a highlight of his year.

It is understood that a leading English football writer is planning to spend the night at Burren Way shortly.

George’s brother Ian, who lives in Torquay, went online to applaud the idea of ​​the theatrical tour but said he couldn’t come back to see it, explaining it was “just a personal thing”.

George Best tours run once a week on Fridays from April to September and once a month the rest of the year. The next theatrical tour will take place on Mother’s Day. For more information, visit

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George and his family in front of his old house

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