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Old 6th February 2006, 10:47   #1
TanyaT
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Default Betrayed; Book accuses Man United of snubbing Busby Babes

Betrayed; Book accuses Man United of snubbing Busby Babes
Adam Aspinall
Sunday Mercury
February 5, 2006



MANCHESTER United have been accused of betraying Midland soccer legend Duncan Edwards and the Busby Babes after the Munich air disaster.

Dudley-born Edwards was one of eight players killed when their plane crashed during take-off in a snowbound Germany on February 6, 1958.

A new book, out tomorrow, will claim the disaster left a bitter taste for the families of those who died and survivors who received little financial support from United.

The damning allegations have been supported by former Busby Babe Albert Scanlon, now aged 70, who was a close friend of centre-half Edwards.

Albert, who nearly died in the crash, believes that some families and survivors were cut off and left to fend for themselves after the disaster.

The midfielder came through the United youth system alongside Duncan Edwards and made his debut for the club in 1954.

Albert helped the Reds to two league titles in 1956 and 1957 and scored 35 goals before he suffered a fractured skull, broken shoulder and damaged kidneys in the air crash.

The pensioner, who now lives alone in a flat in Salford, Manchester, said: "What United did for us following the crash is a sore point for me - because basically they did nothing.

"In those days we never had any insurance or anything like that.

"You were supposed to grin and bear it like a tough man should. They could have done more for us, they really could.

"I can't even get free tickets to matches at Old Trafford now - I have to pay like everyone else."

In all, 23 people died in the Munich crash, including eight United footballers and the Rooney-like Edwards, who appeared to have the world at his feet.

The dead represented the cream of a talented group of players who had enraptured the British public with their flamboyant skills.

But the disaster also served to stoke the myth of Manchester United on an international level after their fairytale resurrection a decade later when Sir Matt Busby's new team, including a young George Best, won the European Cup.

While the glory days were never far away from Old Trafford, Albert Scanlon believes he and others were ignored by the club.

He was forced to quit the game after Munich and struggled to make a living working on the docks, and later as a security guard.

"After what I'd been through for the club I'd always expected a little more care," he told the Sunday Mercury.

"The club has caused a lot of resentment amongst the survivors and their families.

"We don't even get invited to the club. We have to pay to get into the museum to see the medals and shirts we donated to the Munich memorial."

Anger at United's snub reached such a level that in 1997 those affected by Munich launched a campaign for compensation.

But even though a testimonial match held by the club on the 40th anniversary of the disaster raised almost pounds 1 million, the way the proceeds were distributed led to further grievances.

The families of the dead and the survivors received pounds 47,000 each - less than half the sum paid to Eric Cantona to play in the game.

"The money we got from that match came from the people of Manchester, not Manchester United," said Albert.

"It was the people walking through the turnstiles who took care of us. Where was the club when we really needed them?"

The pensioner will remember his lost team-mates on the anniversary of the tragedy tomorrow - and says there is not much point in remaining bitter with his former club.

"I couldn't talk about what happened in the crash for a long time," he said.

"I realised that the only way I could think about it was to think about the bright side of things and the bright side of people - and no-one had a brighter side than Duncan Edwards.

"He was a huge man who would intimidate other players through his sheer presence, but he didn't need to because he let his feet do the talking.

"I always envisioned him captaining England in the World Cup but instead I had to see him in a hospital cot in intensive care, writhing in agony and fighting to stay alive.

"I remember his warm personality and caring nature.

"One incident sticks in my mind after a match was called off one evening.

"The coaches decided to have a 'married men v unmarried men' game, but Duncan forgot his kit so was told to go for a run until the coach said stop.

"An hour and a half later our match finished and everyone wondered where Duncan was. He was still running!

"That was the measure of the man - loyal and honest to the core."

Andrew Read, 26, is a cousin of Duncan Edwards and bears a striking resemblance to the big centre-half.

He works as an electrician after he failed to make the grade himself as a professional footballer.

Andrew, from Hollywood, Birmingham, said: "I've been a United fan all my life and have taken so much stick from Villa fans - but it's worth it because he was such a great player and such a great man.

"I wish I'd got to meet him but I'm just glad I'm here to keep his memory alive."

He refused to criticise Manchester United. Instead, he preferred to stay positive about the lasting legacy Edwards' brief life has left for English football.

"To be honest I've never really wanted to go into what happened after the crash," he said. "All I know is that Sir Bobby Charlton was always nice to Duncan's mother, Sarah-Jane, who passed away in 2003.

"He always made sure he kept in touch and even sent her presents at Christmas.

"As far as the club are concerned, they were very supportive in the immediate aftermath.

"There has been some resentment but the tensions were largely assuaged after the testimonial in 1997."

Duncan Edwards will be remembered in a memorial service at Dudley Leisure Centre, Wellington Road, on February 14.

It will be attended by Sir Bobby Charlton and last surviving members of the Edwards family.

The new book, The Lost Babes: Manchester United And The Forgotten Victims Of Munich, is written by journalist Jeff Connor.

It is published tomorrow and reports suggest it will claim there is a darker side to the legacy of Munich for United.

No-one was available for comment from Manchester United last night.

The club's profits fell by 20 per cent last month but it still reclaimed the title of the world's richest football club.

United, bought by US tycoon Malcolm Glazer last year, said operating profit before goodwill and exceptional items fell to pounds 46 million pounds in the 11 months ended June.

The performance was still good enough for the 128 year-old club to say it was once again world soccer's biggest earner, although its revenue fell to pounds 157.2 million from pounds 169.1 million.

Factfile
Duncan Edwards

Duncan Edwards was was born on October 1, 1936 in Malvern Crescent, Dudley, but spent most of his childhood living in Elm Road on the Priory Estate.

He attended Priory Primary School and Wolverhampton Street Secondary School.

On April 4, 1953, he became the youngest footballer to play in the Football League First Division when he made his debut for Manchester United against Cardiff City.

At the age of 18 years and 183 days, he made his international debut for England against Scotland and became our youngest post-war debutant, a record presently held by Wayne Rooney.

He made 175 appearances for Manchester United, scoring 21 goals and winning 18 caps for England, scoring five goals.

Edwards suffered broken ribs, a broken leg and chest injuries in the air crash.

Although doctors initially thought he had a chance of survival, he eventually died on February 21, 1958.

The Munich air disaster
The Munich crash was one of Britain's worst sporting disasters with United and England losing many of their finest players.

Seven of Manchester United's players were killed immediately and Duncan Edwards died days later.

Sir Matt Busby was seriously injured and had to stay in hospital for weeks after the crash.

There was speculation that the club would fold, but a threadbare United team completed the 1957-1958 season with United coach Jimmy Murphy standing in as manager.

Sir Matt Busby resumed managerial duties the following season and eventually built a second generation of Busby Babes, including George Best.

They went on to win the European Cup in 1968, beating Benfica in the Wembley Final. Munich crash survivors Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes played in the game.
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Old 6th February 2006, 17:04   #2
J.D.
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Please also see MUST member Tom Clare's thoughts on this book for additional perspective.

http://www.joinmust.org/forum/showthread.php?t=23246
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