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Munich

WE’LL NEVER DIE, WE’LL NEVER DIE!

Hailed as the greatest Manchester United team of the clubs history, The Busby Babes, led by Sir Matt “Mattha” Busby, dazzled football fans all over England and Europe with the twinkling toes of Manchester’s finest. The world was at their feet as the team marched on in the European Cup, in the 1957/1958 season.

Munich Clock - Frozen In Time

Munich Clock - Frozen In Time

On February 6th 1958, Manchester United boarded a plane heading for Serbia with a tie against Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup Quarter Final awaiting, and after winning the home leg, 2-1, hopes were high of another win and a strong performance. The now iconic picture of the starting 11 lining out at the stadium in front of around 55,000 is remembered by all to this day.

32 minutes into the game and United were flying high having hit Red Star for 3, with goals coming from Dennis Viollet and two from Bobby Charlton. It was all panning out for a terrific night, as the half time whistle blew. But United were in for a shock in the second half as the home side showed why they had reached the quarter final’s netting twice after only 10 minutes including a penalty conceded by Bill Foulkes. 3-2 the score line but there was to be one more name on the score sheet, and it was that of Dennis Viollet again, although this time his name was appearing on the wrong side as he had to face the knowledge of scoring an own goal in the 87th minute, and that was how the game was to end, 3-3. Despite the draw, it was a credible result away from home in Europe and it enabled United to progress to the semi-final. But it was to be a very different line-up to face AC Milan in May…

The Busby Babes

The Busby Babes

…leaving Belgrade after being delayed for around an hour as Johnny Berry had misplaced his passport, United stopped off in Munich to refuel, on a cold morning. At 14:00 things were set as the United team and associates left the main building and boarded the plane looking forward to returning to the Manchester air and their beloved families. It began powering down the run-way until the pilot called a halt to proceedings and abandoned take off after an irregularity was discovered with an instrument on the plane and the soundings of the engines. The plane then taxied down the run-way preparing for a second attempt of take-off but for the second time the pilot cancelled his plan and brought the plane to a stop, at which the passengers were asked to return to the main building for some hot drinks and shelter as snow began to land softly. During this time, the United team and other passengers had come to the conclusion that they would be spending the night in Munich, at which Duncan Edwards, hailed as the greatest player of his time, took the opportunity to contact home by telegram, and his telegram read – All flights cancelled, flying tomorrow. Duncan. – It was announced that they would be making another attempt of setting off, despite many concerns amongst the United team, they nervously boarded the plane, many scuffling for the seats nearest the back as it was thought to be safer should anything go wrong. 15:04 and engines roared into life and as before, the plane hurtled down the runway, until things went horribly wrong…

…upon realizing that they weren’t going to leave the ground, the pilot’s had no time to act as the plane went beyond the point of return and skidded off the end of the runway due to a build up of slush and thundered into a nearby house after knocking over fencing with ease. The impact was fatal to most as the right side of the fuselage hit a hut, with a truck filled with tyres and fuel within its walls, which exploded upon impact. This resulted in the death of 21 people on board the plane immediately. Players who died as a result of this tragedy were;

Geoff Bent
Roger Byrne
Eddie Colman
Duncan Edwards
Mark Jones
David Pegg
Tommy Taylor
Liam Whelan
Walter Crickmer
Bert Whalley
Tom Curry
Alf Clarke
Don Davies
George Follows
Tom Jackson
Archie Ledbrooke
Henry Rose
Eric Thompson
Frank Swift
Kenneth Rayment
Bela Miklos
Willie Satinoff
Tommy Cable

…Duncan Edwards survived the initial crash, yet last his battle for life 15 days later as he passed in a hospital in Munich. Sir Matt Busby was in a serious condition all throughout, even receiving his last rites twice, yet the man who had seen his team progress in Belgrade a 2 months ago, HIS team, HIS Busby Babes, won his battle and returned to Manchester (Not taking over management until the following season though), although he was faced with a very different set of players.

It was a complete re-build needed. United players who survived the crash included;

Johnny Berry (never played again, died 1994)
Jackie Blanchflower (never played again, died 1998)
Bobby Charlton
Bill Foulkes
Harry Gregg
Kenny Morgans
Albert Scanlon
Dennis Viollet (died 1999)
Ray Wood (died 2002)

The Wreckage

The Wreckage

United won their first game after the crash, at home to Sheffield Wednesday, Harry Gregg and Bill Foulkes the only two to play of those who played in Belgrade. They won the game 3-0, but they went on to win only one more league game that season, against Sunderland. (Sheffield and Sunderland being the two sides to be relegated from the Division come the end of the season) Remarkably, they fought their way to the FA Cup Final, but Bolton Wanderers were there to spoil what party was to be had considering events a few months ago, as United went down 2-0 to the Trotters. The semi-final of the European Cup was held with United facing Italian outfit, AC Milan at Old Trafford for the first leg where the English Champions pulled off a super win beating Milan 2-1, with Dennis Viollet netting a 90th minute penalty after Maldini conceded it. Subsequently, United were beaten away from home on their first away European game since Belgrade where a visit to the San Siro resulted in a 4-0 loss.

Ten years after Munich, Manchester United triumphed in the European Cup beating Benfica at Wembley, 4-1 with 3 goals in extra time from George Best, Brian Kidd and Bobby Charlton after the game ended 1-1 after 90 minutes. So the man who survived the crash, and United’s captain lifted the European Cup to the delight of his manager Matt Busby and the United team. It was a fitting tribute to the team that had lost their lives ten years previously.

50th Anniversary Match Against Manchester City

50th Anniversary Match Against Manchester City

On February 10th 2008, United held the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Crash and fate put them at home to Manchester City in one of the most emotional games witnessed at the Theatre Of Dreams. The team adorned 1958 style kits, red shirts with a white v neck, white shorts, and black socks, with no crests, no names, no sponsors, just the number on the back, on memory of those who died. Manchester City also fielded a side with no sponsors on their kit. Despite loosing 2-1 on the day, emotions were high and the minutes silence before hand was impeccably respected by United and City fans alike prior kick off.

The disaster has left some historic features at Old Trafford, which include the Munich Clock, which is a clock, frozen at 15:04, the time of the crash in Germany. The Munich Plaque also sits on the wall near the clock remembering those who died.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

The Flowers of Manchester

One cold and bitter Thursday in Munich, Germany,
Seven great football stalwarts conceded victory,
Seven men will never play again who met destruction there,
The flowers of English football, the flowers of Manchester
Matt Busby’s boys were flying, returning from Belgrade,
This great United family, all masters of their trade,
The pilot of the aircraft and the skipper Captain Thain,
Three times they tried to take her up and twice turned back again.
The third time down the runaway disaster followed close,
There was ice upon the wings and the aircraft never rose,
It ran upon the marshy ground, it broke, it overturned.
And seven of the team were killed when the battered aircraft burned.
Roger Byrne and Tommy Taylor who were capped for England’s side.
And Ireland’s Billy Whelan and England’s Geoff Bent died,
Mark Jones and Eddie Colman, and David Pegg also,
Before the blazing wreckage went ploughing through the snow.
The trainer, coach and secretary, and a member of the crew,
Also eight sporting journalists who with United flew,
and one of them was Big Swifty, we never will forget,
the greatest English ‘keeper who ever graced a net.
They said that Duncan Edwards had an injury to his brain,
They said that Jackie Blanchflower would never play again,
Matt Busby he was lying there, the father of the team
Six months or more did pass before he saw another game
Oh, England’s finest football team its record truly great,
its proud successes mocked by a cruel turn of fate.
Seven men will never play again, who met destruction there,
the flowers of English football, the flowers of Manchester

2 Responses to “Munich”

  1. Goodluck Sanga said

    This is atragedy may God rest their souls in peace

  2. Goodluck Sanga said

    man utd will remain united forever

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