graphic border

Go Back   MUST - the independent Manchester United supporters' trust > NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS > WHAT THE PAPERS SAY

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 25th January 2008, 10:17   #1
The Forum Mistress

TanyaT's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Cornwall
Posts: 130,989
Default : The Munich Air Disaster - A 50th Anniversary Tribute

The Munich Air Disaster - A 50th Anniversary Tribute 1/25/2008

There has been controversy this week over fears that the planned minute's silence to remember those who died in the Munich Air Disaster might be marred by disrespectful elements in the crowd when Manchester United host Manchester City a few days after the 50th anniversary of the crash. reflects on what happened in early February 1958, and how it prematurely ended 23 lives, irrevocably changed others, and touched millions more in Manchester, England, and beyond.

United's Busby Babes paid a very heavy price for being England's pioneers in the fledgling European Cup. They were a great team, decimated in their prime by a horrific accident.

And their memory deserves respect...

It will be the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster on the 6th February this year. It is difficult to believe that half a century has passed since that air accident, which claimed 23 lives, including those of eight Manchester United footballers. It was a tragedy that had a huge effect on English football and one that is still felt to this day. Following this terrible tragedy, and certainly partially because of it, Manchester United's supporter-base has increased many-many fold over the last 50 years.

It was early evening on 6th February 1958 when news broke of the disaster at Munich-Reim airport that was to have such a shattering effect on Manchester United supporters everywhere. The previous Saturday United had played in one of English football's the finest ever matches, beating Arsenal 5-4 at Highbury. The day before the disaster Manchester United drew 3-3 with Red Star Belgrade to reach the semi-final of the European Cup for the second successive year. On that fateful Thursday afternoon Matt Busby's young team was destroyed; 21 lives were ended and two other men suffered injuries that were later to claim their lives in hospital.

On the way back from Belgrade, the BEA flight 609 made a scheduled refuelling stop in Munich, in preparation for the last leg of the journey to Manchester. However, by now the weather was appalling with the runway covered with snow. The pilot, Captain James Thain, made two abortive attempts to take-off but the aircraft was forced to return to the terminal. Some of the United party telegraphed home warning that they were likely to be detained overnight in Munich as no further flights were expected that day.

Surprisingly, a third attempt was made at 15:04, with fatal consequences. The plane failed to gain adequate height and crashed into a fence surrounding the airport and then into a house. Initially 23 of the 44 people survived the disaster. The list of those who died immediately was:

7 Players: Roger Byrne, Geoff Bent, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Billy Whelan.

3 Club Officials: Walter Crickmer (secretary), Bert Whalley (chief-coach) and Tom Curry (trainer).

8 Journalists: Alf Clarke (Manchester Evening Chronicle), Don Davies (Manchester Guardian), George Fellows (Daily Herald), Tom Jackson (Manchester Evening News), Archie Ledbrooke (Daily Mirror), Henry Rose (Daily Express), Eric Thompson (Daily Mail) and Frank Swift (News of the World).

3 Others: Tom Cable (steward), Bela Miklos (travel agent) and Willie Satinoff (supporter).

An eighth United player, Duncan Edwards, died 15 days later in hospital, while three weeks after the crash the co-pilot, Ken Rayment, also lost his fight for life.

Among the 21 people who survived the crash were Busby and nine of his players: Johnny Berry, Jackie Blanchflower, Bobby Charlton, Bill Foulkes, Harry Gregg, Kenny Morgans, Albert Scanlon, Dennis Viollet and Ray Wood. Frank Taylor (News Chronicle) was the only journalist to survive the crash. Two photographers (Ted Ellyard and Peter Howard) also survived, together with four members of the crew (including Captain Thain) and four other passengers. Gregg was particularly heroic, dragging Busby, some of his team-mates and two passengers clear of the wreckage.

It was initially thought that Busby, who was twice given the last rites, and Berry would not survive. Busby suffered multiple injuries but remarkably, two months later, was deemed fit enough to leave hospital. Berry suffered head injuries and was in a coma for two months. It was a further month after that before he was told of the full consequences of the crash. His team-mate Jackie Blanchflower was another player who never played again, having suffered a fractured pelvis and crushed kidneys.

It was 19th February before United were able to resume playing again. A packed and emotional Old Trafford saw them beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 in the FA Cup fifth round. The match programme for the game showed a blank team line-up for United, bearing witness to their shortage of players. Only goalie Gregg and the newly-appointed skipper Foulkes (the only man who played in every game for United in 1957-58) from the side that drew in Belgrade set foot on the Old Trafford pitch that night. Alongside them were five reserves, two youth players (making their debuts) and two emergency signings. United had been given special dispensation by the FA to play 'Cup-tied' signings. Charlton, Morgans and Viollet returned later in the season, but Scanlon did not reappear until 1958-59. Wood had already lost his place to Gregg, before the crash, and played for United just once afterwards.

Busby's injuries prevented him from taking charge of the team again until the following season. In the meantime his assistant Jimmy Murphy (who did not travel to Belgrade because he was looking after the Welsh side in a World Cup qualifier) took charge of team affairs. United only won one more League game in 1957-58, finishing ninth – 21 points behind champions Wolverhampton Wanderers. United were still good enough to defeat AC Milan 2-1 at home in the European Cup semi-final; but were comprehensively beaten 4-0 in the return leg. Murphy's makeshift side also battled through to the FA Cup final, defeating Fulham after a replay in the semi-final, but were beaten 2-0 by Bolton Wanderers in the final. Gregg, Foulkes, Charlton and Viollet all received losers' medals at Wembley.

With Busby back at the helm, United netted 103 goals the following season to finish runners-up in the League behind Stan Cullis's powerful Wolves side. However, Manchester United had to wait until 1963 before they won another piece of silverware. That was when they defeated Leicester City 3-1 in the FA Cup final. Foulkes and Charlton were the only Munich survivors who played in that final. By then the likes of Denis Law, David Herd and Pat Crerand had joined the club and, when the squad was further enhanced by the emerging talent of George Best, United were good enough to win the League title twice in three campaigns in the mid-1960s. The latter triumph in 1966-67 paved the way for Busby's side to capture the European Cup in 1968, by beating Benfica 4-1, after extra-time, in the final. Charlton netted a brace on that memorable night at Wembley, while Foulkes (who netted a vital goal against Real Madrid in the semi-final) wore the number five shirt.

Busby was knighted following the European Cup triumph. The following year, after 24 years at the helm, he moved 'upstairs' and Wilf McGuinness took charge of team affairs. Busby briefly took over managerial duties again in 1970 (following McGuinness's sacking) before becoming a director (and later president) of the club. He died in 1994, aged 84. Busby was previously a fine player with Manchester City and Liverpool. He was appointed manager of Manchester United in 1945. As well as winning the European Cup, he led United to five League titles and his teams were runners-up in the League on seven occasions. Manchester United reached the FA Cup final four times during his reign, winning on the first and last occasions (1948 and 1963, respectively). There is little doubt that Manchester United would have won much more silverware under him but for the events on a snowy airfield in Munich on 6th February fifty years ago.

Initially, the crash was blamed on pilot error but later Captain Thain was exonerated and the cause was officially put down to the slush on the runway which prevented the plane reaching its required take-off speed.

* * *

Pen Pictures of the Manchester United squad that boarded BEA flight 609.

Geoff Bent:
Salford-born 25 year-old full-back who made his debut in 1954-55, but found his first-team opportunities limited due to the form of first John Aston, and then Roger Byrne. He played just a handful of games in the title-winning campaigns of 1955-56 and 1956-57. A 'poor flyer', he was not originally due to travel to Belgrade, but was ultimately included as cover for Byrne, who was carrying a slight injury. He died in Munich. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 12-0.

Johnny Berry: A speedy winger who had played over 100 games for Birmingham City before joining United in 1951. He played for England on four occasions. He helped United win three League titles and played in the 1957 FA Cup final, that was won by Aston Villa. He was 31 at the time of the tragedy, but was unable to resume his playing career afterwards and he eventually ran a sports shop (with his brother Peter, another former footballer) in his native Aldershot. He died in 1994. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 247-13.

Jackie Blanchflower: The Belfast-born younger brother of Danny was aged 24 at the time of the tragedy. He was unable to resume his career due to the injuries he received in the crash. Thus his tally of Northern Ireland caps remained at 12. His debut, and only appearance of 1951-52, came in a campaign when United won the League title. He was quite versatile, initially playing at inside forward, but was also equally adept at centre-half. He helped United win two League titles. He also went in goal when Ray Wood was injured during the 1957 FA Cup final. He died in 1998. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 105-26.

Roger Byrne: Manchester-born 28 year-old full-back who made his debut in 1951-52. Matt Busby's captain, who was originally a winger, won 33 England caps. He helped United to win three League titles and captained the side in the 1957 FA Cup final. He died in Munich unaware that his wife was pregnant. His son, Roger, became a ball-boy at Old Trafford. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 245-17.

Bobby Charlton: A member of the famous Milburn clan, the Ashington-born forward was aged 20 at the time of the tragedy. He made his England debut two months after the crash and went on to win 106 caps in total (scoring a record 49 goals). He collected a World Cup winners' medal along the way (alongside his elder brother Jackie). He was knighted in 1994. He made his debut in 1956-57 and was made captain in 1966. He skippered the side that won the European Cup in 1968. He also helped United win three League titles and the FA Cup. He also played in the losing FA Cup finals of 1957 and 1958. He holds the club records for League appearances and goals scored. He left Old Trafford in 1973 to become player-manager of Preston North End. He later played for Waterford United and was a director of Wigan Athletic. He has been a Manchester United director since 1984. Now aged 69. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 606-199.

Eddie Colman: Salford-born 21-year-old right-half who made his debut in 1955-56. Nicknamed Snakehips, because of his trademark body swerve, he helped United win two League titles and was a member of the 1957 FA Cup final side. He was the youngest of those who died in Munich. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 85-1.

Duncan Edwards: Dudley-born 21 year-old left-half who was the youngest player ever to play in the First Division when he made his debut as a 16 year-old in 1952-53. When he made his international debut in 1955, aged 18 years and 188 days, he became the youngest man to play for England since the Second World War. He was considered by many to have had the potential to be the greatest player in the world. He helped United win two League titles, played in the 1957 FA Cup final and won 18 England caps. He died of his injuries, 15 days after the crash, in hospital. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 151-20. He is pictured above in one of two the stained glass memorials to him at his local church in Dudley, West Midlands.

Bill Foulkes: The only man to play in every Manchester United first-team match in 1957-58. He was born in Prescott, made his debut in 1952-53 and was 26 at the time of the crash. Originally a right-back, whom Busby switched to play in central defence later in his career. He won just one England cap (in 1955). He was appointed club captain immediately after the disaster. He helped United win the European Cup, four League titles and the FA Cup in 1963. He also played in the losing FA Cup finals of 1957 and 1958. He held the United record for appearances until his tally was surpassed by Bobby Charlton. His final game for the club was in August 1969. After hanging up his boots, he coached United's youth side before coaching in the USA, Norway and Japan. Along with Albert Scanlon, he presented the Premiership trophy to Manchester United at Old Trafford in May 2007. Now aged 75. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 566-7.

Harry Gregg: Made almost 100 appearances for Doncaster Rovers before becoming the “most expensive goalkeeper in the world” when he moved to Old Trafford during that fateful 1957-58 campaign. Born in Londonderry, he was 25 at the time of the disaster. He won 25 caps for Northern Ireland and played in the 1958 World Cup finals. He missed the 1963 FA Cup final through injury and, although he played two League games in the 1966-67 season, was destined never to win a medal at Old Trafford. He moved to Stoke City in 1966 but only played twice. He later managed Shrewsbury Town, Swansea City, Crewe Alexandra and Carlisle United. He was also assistant-manager at Swindon Town for a while. He received an MBE in 1995. Now aged 75. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 210-0.

Mark Jones: Barnsley-born 24 year-old centre-half who made his debut in 1950-51. He helped United win two League titles and also made three appearances in 1951-52, when the title was also won. Died in Munich, four months before his daughter was born. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 103-1.

Kenny Morgans: The Swansea-born winger was 18 at the time of the tragedy. He made his debut during that fateful 1957-58 campaign, taking over from Johnny Berry on the right-wing. He only played a few times for United after the crash and joined Swansea Town in March 1961. He later played for Newport County. Now aged 68. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 17-0.

David Pegg: Doncaster-born 22 year-old left-winger who made his debut in 1952-53. He helped United win two League titles and played in the 1957 FA Cup final side. He won his one and only England cap just nine months before he died in Munich. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 127-24.

Albert Scanlon: The Manchester-born winger was 22 at the time of the disaster. He made his debut in 1954-55 and played a handful of games in the club's title-winning campaigns of 1955-56 and 1956-57. He was on the verge of signing for Arsenal at the time of the tragedy. He recovered from a fractured skull and played for United again in 1958-59 and 1959-60 before joining Newcastle United. He later played for Lincoln City and Mansfield Town. He played once for the Football League representative side. Along with Bill Foulkes, he presented the Premiership trophy to Manchester United at Old Trafford in May 2007. Now aged 72. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 115-34.

Tommy Taylor: Barnsley-born 26 year-old centre-forward who netted 26 goals in 44 League appearances for Barnsley before joining Manchester United for a world-record fee of Ł29,999. He made his United debut in 1952-53 and helped them win two League titles, top scoring with 25 in 1955-56. He scored United's goal in their 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa in the 1957 FA Cup final. He played 19 times for England and scored 16 goals. He died in Munich. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 166-112.

Dennis Viollet: The Manchester-born inside-right was 25 at the time of the crash. He made his debut in 1952-53 and helped United win two League titles. He returned to the team later in the 1957-58 campaign and was one of four survivors who played in the 1958 FA Cup final. He was the First Division's leading scorer in 1959-60 (with 32 goals) and went on to win two caps, scoring once for England. Busby surprisingly sold him to Second Division Stoke City in January 1962. He later reverted to a midfield role and helped the Potters win the Second Division and reach the League Cup final. He later played for Baltimore Bays and Witton Albion, before becoming player-manager of Linfield. He also coached Preston North End and Crewe Alexandra, before moving to the USA and coaching various sides there. He died in 1999. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 259-179.

Liam Whelan: Dublin-born 22 year-old inside-forward who made his debut in 1954-55. He joined the club from Home Farm. He helped United win two League titles, top scoring with 27 in 1956-57, and played in the 1957 FA Cup final. He won four caps for the Republic of Ireland. He died in Munich. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 79-43.

Ray Wood: The Hebburn-born goalkeeper was 26 at the time of the disaster. He was bought from Darlington and made his debut in 1949-50. He was United's regular keeper when they won the League title in 1955-56 and again in 1956-57. His cheekbone was fractured early on in the 1957 FA Cup final and played part of the game as an outfield player before retaking his place between the posts. He had lost his place to Gregg before the crash and only made one more appearance for United afterwards. He joined Huddersfield Town in December 1958 and made over 200 appearances for them before also playing for Bradford City and Barnsley. He went on to coach in many countries abroad. He died in 2002. MUFC League Appearances-Goals: 178-0.

* * *

A Match To Remember: 1st February, 1958, Highbury

Arsenal 4-5 Manchester United

League champions Manchester United arrived at Highbury in fourth place, still with hopes of retaining their title and achieving a hat-trick of three consecutive League chmpionships - a feat last accomplished by their opponents, Arsenal, in 1934-35.

But the European Cup was their major goal, and they would be heading off to Belgrade a few days later to take on Red Star in a quarter-final.

Arsenal, in contrast, were in an indifferent phase, recently humbled by Northampton Town in the FA Cup, and drifting ruddlerless in mid-table in the First Division.

A crowd of 63,578 saw rampant United take the first half by storm. Duncan Edwards put them aheadafter twn minutes with a powerful drive, and Bobby Charlton added a second with a piledriver from Albert Scanlon's cross. And just before the interval, Tommy Taylor appeared to have put the issue beyond doubt with a third goal. But the drama was only just beginning.

The home side were not going to surrender without a fight. In an astonishing three-minute spell they produced three goals of their own to draw level. In the 58th minute, David Herd (destined to move to Old Trafford a few years later) scored with a volley. Then Jimmy Bloomfield added two more. The first was from a knock-down by Vic Groves; the second a spectacular diving header from Gordon Nutt's low, hard cross.

Wit the Gunners pouring forward in search of a memorable victory, United revealed their pedigree with two goals on the break. Dennis Viollet scored in the 65th minute after good work by Charlton and Scanlon. Then, seven minutes later, Taylor beat Jack Kelsey from the narrowest of angles.

Even then, Arsenal were not finished, Derek Tapscott adding their fourth. Although forced to defend against relentless pressure, United managed to hold out to win 5-4. All 22 players received a standing ovation. Nobody who saw the game would forget it.
And five of the United players would never be seen on an English football field again.

Arsenal: Jack Kelsey; Stan Charlton, Dennis Evans; Gerry Ward, Jim Fotheringham, Dave Bowen; Vic Groves, Derek Tapscott, David Herd, Jimmy Bloomfield, Gordon Nutt.

Manchester United: Harry Gregg; Bill Foulkes, Roger Byrne; Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, Duncan Edwards; Kenny Morgans, Bobby Charlton, Tommy Taylor, Dennis Viollet, Albert Scanlon.

David Powter & Graham Lister
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
TanyaT is offline   Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
50th Anniversary Of The Munich Air Disaster - An Post Stamp TanyaT WHAT THE PAPERS SAY 0 24th January 2008 17:12
Martin Samuel replies to comments on whether the FA should mark the Munich disaster Paul Brooks WHAT THE PAPERS SAY 0 24th January 2008 04:21
Rows overshadow Munich air crash anniversary tribute TanyaT WHAT THE PAPERS SAY 0 23rd January 2008 11:29
What the Glazers ought to know - Munich TanyaT WHAT THE PAPERS SAY 0 30th January 2006 11:22

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 23:43.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of individual members and guests of the MUST forum and not the official policies of MUST unless explicitly stated. MUST is not responsible for the content of links to external websites.

We are the official MUFC Trust, but please don't confuse us with the Glazer-owned United. Click here to understand what this means.