George Weah? What's He Got To Do With Town?

Huddersfield Town story posted by Peter MacGibbon on 09/01/2004
Well strictly speaking the answer to that question is ?Nothing!? unless you take me into account. You see I knew George, or at least I knew someone called George Weah and the time and place were right so I have no reason to think it wasn?t THE George Weah.George Weah? What's He Got To Do With Town?

George was born in Monrovia in October 1966 and I lived and worked there from 1970 to 1975. The George I met, in 1973,was playing football, on the beach, with some of his friends; the second from the right in the picture as I remember it.

George was actually brought up by his grandma after his father died. I think he was actually born in West Point, a shanty town just along from my office in United Nations Drive. The beach behind my office and running past West Point was a public toilet in the morning; if you did what you had to do between the high and low water marks then the tide would do the flushing away for you. I hasten to add that this was for the residents of West Point, we had full plumbing in our offices. Later in the day the kids would be out playing football. All the kids loved football and it is just a surprise that George Weah was the first, and almost only, Liberian to make a mark in Europe. Of course, to be fair, black players, even native Brits, didn't make their mark in European football until the late seventies. It was 1979 before Lawrie Cunningham and Viv Anderson got their first caps for England. Nowadays we take African footballers for granted but not way back then!

George Weah as a childGeorge grew up, as a teenager, after the first coup in Liberia and just before the civil war, which we hope and pray is just ending, took hold of the whole country. He first played for a Clara Town side and then a Cameroon scout spotted him playing for The Invincible XI and signed him for a Yaound? side. This was in 1988 and by the early nineties he was in France, impressing the world, and the rest, as they say, is history. If it hadn?t been for his football he could well be dead by now, another victim of the twenty year Civil War.

I did play some very amateurish football during my time in Liberia. There were two main expatriate social clubs in Monrovia. The South Beach Club was mainly British but other Europeans were members, Danes and Dutch mostly. The French kept themselves to themselves, as did the Americans. The other club was the German-Liberian Club. As its names suggest the membership was mainly German. Germans were probably the second biggest expatriate community after the Americans but were mostly up country in the mines.
We played a lot of ?sand football?, on the beach, amongst ourselves but then we decided we should play a ?proper? match between the two social clubs. We duly got access to a ramshackle, almost grassless, football pitch and I lined up on the right wing for the South Beach. We won! Inspired by this success we discovered there was a Lebanese Social Club and we challenged them to a game. You should understand that most of the traders and shopkeepers in Liberia were Lebanese; mostly overweight, chain smoking extremely unfit gentlemen. We went to play them and discovered we were going to play in a fantastic stadium with a reasonable surface and a grandstand! We should have realised then that something wasn?t quite right and turned round and gone home.

The Lebanese team ran out onto the pitch. Was it portly, unfit, middle aged men? Was it heck! They had smart matching freshly laundered kit, unlike our mixture of jerseys of roughly all the same colour, and they weren?t even in the 25-40 age bracket of most of the South Beach team. Oh no, these were lads of between 18 and 22 or 23, very athletic looking, just like the current Town team. What we had failed to take account of when we rashly issued our challenge was that the Lebanese trader?s sons, and daughters, were all sent to Europe or the USA to school or university ? and this was the holiday season! Let?s draw a veil over the details of the match and say that we all went happily back to playing ?sand football? again.

Actually my only claim to real sporting fame is as a Liberian Rugby International. Honest, would I tell a lie?

I should have known about the Lebanese since my b?te noir every time we played Sierra Leone was my immediate opposition, their hooker. He was a young Lebanese lad who had been a regular first XV player for Blackrock College in Dublin.

We were always at a disadvantage compared to our neighbouring countries, all ex British or French colonies with a Rugby culture. Ivory Coast, for example, played in the Rugby World Cup a few years ago. Sierra Leone?s players were mostly army or police whereas we had a hard core of maybe 20 players who had played competitive rugby for school/college/club in the UK. The remainder of our pool of players were keen Germans who had learnt the game from scratch in Liberia or ex-American footballers whom we tried to ?convert? to rugby. One of them, an ex quarterback, was a reasonable scrum half as long as he remembered which game he was playing! He once startled us all by standing behind the scrum , bouncing the ball from hand to hand, waiting for one of the three quarters to race upfield so that he could throw the ball to him. The opposition stopped momentarily and looked on in amazement, only for a moment mark you; the look on his face, just before their pack buried him, had to be seen to be believed!


I hope you enjoyed this article, even if it wasn?t quite what you were expecting. Following Tobias? ?A Somewhat Controversial Topic? post in ?Your Suggestions? my New Year resolution is to try and give you an article every couple of months at the worst.

A Happy New Year to all my readers!


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