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George Best and Barry Fry – football’s unlikely friends

Written by on May 2, 2024

Barry Fry is known as the king of the lower leagues, managing clubs such as Barnet, Southend United, Peterborough United and Birmingham City in a long and colourful career in management.

But his adventures as a manager – more than 32 years and more than 1,600 games – might never have happened if it was not for a decidedly more glamourous figure in the game.

Fry and George Best might seem like unlikely pals, but after meeting as apprentices at Manchester United, they struck up a friendship that endured for decades.

“He was a real good friend to me,” Fry told BBC Scotland’s Sacked In The Morning podcast. “In fact, I would not have had the career I’ve had but for Bestie helping me out when I started my managerial career at Dunstable.

“Dunstable had finished bottom of the league eight years on the trot. Nine after I took over in the March.

“One Sunday night I was visiting Manchester – one of my old haunts, a nightclub called Slack Alice that Bestie owned.

“I said to Bestie ‘George, I’ve come to ponce a favour off you – play for Dunstable in two pre-season friendlies’.

“He agreed, but said Tommy Docherty held his registration at Manchester United. So I went there the next morning.

“‘What makes you think Best will play for you at Dunstabubble?’ Tom asked. ‘I can’t get him to play at Man United!’.

“He agreed and then said ‘I’ll bring a Man United XI to play you’! My first two crowds at Dunstable were 34 people and 43 people – it wasn’t a crowd increase… I made all my family come from Bedford.

“Anyway, one Tuesday night, George Best guesting for Dunstable Town v Man United… there were 10,000 people inside Creasy Park. Another 5,000 in the High Street couldn’t get in.

“We were on ‘News at 10’. And we beat them 3-2. Dunstable had arrived!”

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