Thousands attending Best funeral

ricky8777

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Tens of thousands of people have converged on east Belfast to say a final farewell to Northern Ireland football legend George Best.
A private blessing was held at the family home in Cregagh, before a public funeral at the Parliament at Stormont.

Some of the biggest names in football are there, including Best's lifelong friend Denis Law and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

As the cortege left the family home, the gathered crowds began applauding.

As the cortege made its way along Prince of Wales Avenue, members of the crowd threw flowers and football shirts onto the hearse.

Before a minute's silence, a lone piper played a lament and the coffin was then carried into Parliament Buildings.

Members of the Cregagh Boys' Club formed a guard of honour.

Representatives of the government, sporting organisations, political parties and police are among the mourners.

They include England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde, his predecessor Sir Ronnie Flanagan, former snooker champions Denis Taylor and Alex Higgins and NI footballing greats Martin O'Neill and Gerry Armstrong.



Best, 59, will be buried beside his mother Ann at Roselawn Cemetery.

SATURDAY'S EVENTS
Day begins with private blessing at family home in Cregagh estate
Funeral procession heads to Parliament Buildings, Stormont, for public service at 1100 GMT
Big screens relay service to crowds outside
Private burial follows at Roselawn Cemetery


Full guide to the day

He died last Friday in London's Cromwell Hospital, several weeks after being admitted with flu-like symptoms on 1 October.

His footballing exploits for Manchester United in the 1960s earned him worldwide adulation, but his post-football life was marked by alcoholism and health problems.

It is one of the biggest funerals ever seen in Northern Ireland.

Tens of thousands are lining the streets to the Stormont Estate and will later line the route to the cemetery in the hills above east Belfast.

Three hundred invited guests will attend a special service in the Great Hall at Stormont, to be led by TV presenter and Manchester United supporter Eamonn Holmes.


EVENT GUIDE FOR PRINTING

Maps and useful information [2.4MB]
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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and former Northern Ireland internationals Pat Jennings, Gerry Armstrong and Martin O'Neill are among the mourners.

Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballing greats, including Harry Gregg, who played with Best, will carry the coffin.

The football magic of George Best will live on forever

Olav Grinde, Bergen, Norway


Best funeral: Your comments
Best's brother Ian, agent Phil Hughes, Dr Akeel Alisa, who treated Best, and his brothers-in-law Norman McNarry and Alan McPherson will also be pallbearers.

It is understood Best's son Calum will read a poem during the service which will also feature school choirs, readings and performances from Belfast singers Brian Kennedy and Peter Corry.


Best's former wives Angie and Alex, along with his last partner, Ros Hollidge, are also expected to attend.

The gates of Stormont Estate opened to the public at 0850 GMT and closed after the capacity for the grounds of 32,000 was reached.

There is no parking within two miles of the estate, but park-and-ride facilities are available.


GEORGE BEST FUNERAL ROUTE
Click to see a map of the route of George Best's funeral cortege.


In maps



Scheduled bus services are running as normal.


Chief Inspector Mark Purdon urged people to plan their journeys carefully.



The coffin is being transported to Stormont by a police escort via Cregagh Road, the Knock dual carriageway, and the Upper Newtownards Road.

The hearse will enter the main gate at Stormont, then travel along the Prince of Wales Avenue to the Parliament Building.

STORMONT ESTATE
Click to open a plan of Stormont Estate with public viewing areas.


In maps



The service in the Great Hall will be relayed via big screen and loudspeakers to the crowd outside.

Later, the procession will return down Prince of Wales Avenue to the cemetery via the Upper Newtownards Road, Knock dual carriageway and the Ballygowan Road.

The Best family has asked that members of the public stay behind barriers, do not follow the cortege and respect their privacy at Roselawn Cemetery and the family home.
 

Zooropa

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Watchin it now on sky news................ very sad day :( god bless george
 

tonks1982

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his funeral was like a royalties 1 didnt know he was part of the royal family
it was nice to see the journalists was doing what the family said , thats a first
 

jaymes

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A worthy tribute in memory of someone who left us so many memories.
 

zeedy2k

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Its great, because for once, religion didn't matter in Belfast... we had politicians all sitting beside each other without fighting for a change...

Only best could do that, and he did it the best... He will be missed by alot of people...
 
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