“The day I played with George Best and he photobombed my picture with Miss World”

Manchester United legend George Best lining up with Arbroath Vics in 1982 alongside David Johnstone.

A former Tayside junior footballer has recalled how George Best ‘photobombed’ his picture with Miss World.

David Johnstone, 55, from Dundee, grew up kicking a ball about in the back garden in Fintry with his big brother, Rangers legend Derek Johnstone.

But ask Mr Johnstone who is the best player he ever played with and he answers without hesitation: “Sorry Derek but George always wins the day!”

George Best and Mary Stavin sign autographs in Arbroath following the game.

Mr Johnstone, 55, who still lives in the city where the seven Johnstone brothers grew up, played alongside Best during his time with junior side Arbroath Vics.

To celebrate the club’s centenary year, the Vics secured 36-year-old Best’s services for a match against Arbroath FC and he scored twice in a 4-3 win at Gayfield.

This week marked the 35th anniversary of the famous game when the Manchester United legend arrived at Gayfield with Miss World Mary Stavin on his arm and drank only tea.

Mr Johnstone still pinches himself when he thinks back to the game and fondly recalled how Best “photobombed” his photo with Miss Stavin afterwards.

Tea for three – George Best gets in between David Johnstone and Mary Stavin.

“It was an amazing day,” said Mr Johnstone, who enjoyed a 10-year spell in the juniors before finishing his career in the amateur ranks.

“There had been rumours for a few weeks leading up to the game but we never knew for sure he was playing until about a week before.

“He was incredible on the day and completely down to earth.

Rangers legend Derek Johnstone.

“His agent was Bill McMurdo who I had met many times as he was Derek’s agent for a few years.

“I remember Bill came into the dressing room to wish us all the best and he spotted me and brought George right over to meet me.

“After the game we went back to the Vics social club for a question and answer session and the Vics players and officials got an hour with him for photos and autographs before the public got in.

“While there was a large queue waiting for George I managed to get Mary Stavin to have her photo taken with me.

“Just as we were posing George came over and moved into the picture. Who knows?  Maybe he was worried!”

In 1974 Best left Manchester United, effectively ending his career at the highest level at the age of 27.

He would play on for nearly 10 more years at a number of lesser clubs as he struggled with alcoholism.

Arbroath Vics club secretary Jimmy Smith was an associate of McMurdo’s who was Best’s agent at the time.

He chanced his arm and called McMurdo, and a guest appearance was duly arranged although only a little more than 1,000 people attended the match.

Former Vics manager Ian Hardie said he had never given an easier team talk – pointing at Best, he told the players: “Give the ball to him.”

David Johnstone still fondly remembers the match as if it was yesterday.

“The size of the crowd while disappointing was still great for a junior club and to be honest we hardly noticed as we were all just delighted to have him there,” said Mr Johnstone.

“Despite the talk of his alchohol problems he just drank pots of tea all day.

“Now when I’m out with pals and the conversation gets around to the best player you played with George always wins the day.”

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