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Manchester United Sean Graham

Many minutes, hours, days, months and years have gone by and Manchester United have had many successes over those years and the fans will have their each individual memories the glory days, but today United fans all over the world, will remember the club’s darkest day back in 1958 as it was on the 6th of February that some of their beloved Busby Babes were so cruelly taken away from us far too early and way before their time.

Sir Matt Busby was a great Manchester United manager, who built a fantastic side through a youth policy which was way ahead of its time and who had to rebuild not only his own life as he fought his way back to fitness and full health but he had to rebuild a Manchester United side which was at the peak of its form at that time and would have won the European Cup much earlier than their 1968 success at Wembley if this horrible tragedy had never happened.

Never a day goes by when the supporters of this great club forget what happened that fateful Thursday night, 6th February 1958 in Munich airport. A promising young Manchester United team had been returning from a fantastic performance against Red Star Belgrade gaining a fantastic 3-3 draw to add to their 2-1 first leg win to earn the club a semi-final place against Italian giants AC Milan things could not have been better for this team, they feared no one in Europe or in England their futures were bright.

Spirits were high as the team boarded the plane a BEA Elizabethan airliner but the mood was to change as twice the aircraft tried to take off and twice the flight was aborted due to the weather conditions. The pilot decided that he would try for a third time to take to the air but sadly it did not make it as the plane caught part of the perimeter fence and this caused the aircraft to smash into some buildings and this caused the wing to be torn off and part of the main aircraft.

An inferno of flames followed and those who could move quickly to help themselves and others but from 44 passengers and crew that boarded the plane only 21 people survived. One of England’s biggest football clubs waited to find out who had been taken from them in this terrible tragedy. The news came through and it was not good!

Those players would go on a European adventure with the club and never return, Manchester was in a state of shock. Walter Crickmer (club secretary), Bert Whalley (chief coach), Tom Curry (Trainer), along with journalists, the captain of the airplane, travel agent, steward and Willie Satinoff, fan and close friend of Matt Busby, were also victims of the crash. Not only had members of this fantastic United team been taken from them, former Manchester City and England goalkeeper and News of the World journalist, Frank Swift was also among the victims.

Fans now had to hope and pray that boss Matt Busby and the superstar of his generation and darling of the fans, Duncan Edwards would win their fight for life. Night and day the fans would pray in the hope that both would win their fight for survival, Matt Busby eventually did, but sadly the same could not be said about Duncan Edwards, as he lost his fight for life after two weeks in hospital. Duncan had passed away in his sleep at the age of just 21 and United and football fans the land over had been robbed of this special talent.

Duncan was one of the most spoken and written about Manchester United football players by fans of all ages, some of whom may never have seen this young, gifted player ever play but they will have heard about the legend. A young boy found playing in the local Dudley youth league, he signed for the club at amateur level in 1952/53 and made his debut against Cardiff at the age of 17. He was also the youngest England International at that time after being given his chance by Walter Winterbottom. At 5ft 10, Duncan was the complete footballer and could play in any position such was his adaptability.

He had vision, speed, great passing ability, fierce in any tackle and scorer of many an outstanding goal. He scored 21 goals for United and 5 for England in 18 appearances in a career of fewer than 5 years. Duncan and his team mates in the Munich disaster were players who were taken from us all too soon but their memory and the legend that is the Busby Babes will live on in the hearts of every Manchester United fan all over the world.

Time has stood still since the 6th February 1958 for everyone involved at Manchester United and the clock outside the stadium bares the scars for all to see as a permanent reminder of a terrible night in the history of the club.

I think all Manchester United fan’s all over the world will take time out to remember the Busby Babes not only on February 6th but every day and I think that was fitting hearing all the stories of that terrible night, it was just typical of goalkeeper Harry Gregg, a man who showed incredible bravery by thinking of others and helping them rather than think of his own safety as flames came from the plane and he was told to stay away from it and run as far as possible, this was not in his nature.

Today and every anniversary after this, will always be an emotional time for everyone concerned with Manchester United Football Club, my thoughts and prayers are with everyone at Old Trafford and beyond as the families of those who lost someone that night, will be reliving that horrific tragedy and I can only pray they know that people all over the world share their pain.

No matter what you are doing-stop and say a prayer for the “Busby Babes” every one of them a legend and their father figure Sir Matt Busby who was taken to heaven in 1994 to keep an eye on his boys.

And to the journalists and others on that plane who suffered the same fate as some of the Babes on the plane, my thoughts and prayers go out to their families also.

No one should go to a football match and never return.

The Busby Babes- God Bless Them we will never forget them, always remembered, always in our hearts.

As the United supporters sing loud and proud at Old Trafford, “We’ll Never Die, We’ll keep the Red flag flying high cos Man United will never die”

There was also a tribute song called “The Flowers of Manchester” which was written by Eric Winter and was sung by various folk including The Spinners, the words are below and I can tell you today is no different than any other for me as I have had a tear or two in my eye reading these words and watching footage of the Busby Babes.

 

The Flowers of Manchester

One cold and bitter Thursday in Munich, Germany,
Eight great football stalwarts conceded victory.
Eight men will never play again, who met disaster there,
The flowers of English football, the flowers of Manchester.

The Busby Babes were flying home, returning from Belgrade,
This great United family all masters of their trade.
The pilot of the aircraft, the skipper Captain Thain,
Three times tried to take off and twice turned back again.

The third time down the runway disaster followed close,
There was slush upon that runway and the aircraft never rose.
It ploughed into the marshy ground, it broke, it overturned.
And eight of that team were killed when the blazing wreckage burned.

Roger Byrne and Tommy Taylor, who were capped for England's side,
And Ireland's Liam Whelan and England's Geoff Bent died.
Mark Jones and Eddie Coleman and David Pegg also,
They all lost their lives as it ploughed on through the snow.

Big Duncan he went too, with an injury to his brain,
And Ireland's brave Jack Blanchflower will never play again.
The great Matt Busby lay there, the father of this team,
Three long months passed by before he saw his team again.

The trainer, coach and secretary and three members of the crew,
Also eight sporting journalists who with United flew,
And one of them was Big Swifty who we will ne'er forget,
The finest English 'keeper that ever graced a net.

England's finest football team it's record truly great,
It's proud success mocked by this cruel turn of fate.
Eight men will never play again who met disaster there,
The flowers of English football, the flowers of Manchester.

Sean Graham

Follow on Twitter @FeaturesSean


"I am just a guy who has over 40 years of memories of watching various clubs and matches since my Dad took me round the grounds in Glasgow each week before we went to meet my Mum after work and we always went to the Berni Inn where I had scampi and chips !

From watching Aberdeen, Celtic, Rangers, Partick Thistle, Maryhill juniors and Scotland as well as watching Everton and Manchester United, I have plenty of memories to share for fans to hopefully enjoy and remember."

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