THE DAY A TEAM DIED 50 YEARS AGO TODAY, 6th FEBRUARY 1958…..
The radio announced the news flash. " A plane carrying the Manchester United football team, has crashed in Munich. . . . . "
I cycled to the ground passing small groups of people standing on street corners, gleaning what sparse information was available. No multimedia coverage in those days. The whole City was stunned. Almost at a standstill for days. The cold temperatures were nought compared to the icy feeling of despair and loss. The next day was a schoolday and on arriving there on the 62 bus I found the whole school engulfed in grief. Throughout the day there were tears from both City and United fans, the grief was shared by all Mancunians. Rumour and counter rumour enflamed the sorrow. Nothing would change the fact that seven of our heroes were dead and an eighth,DuncanEdwards and the clubs Manager Matt Busby,were fighting for their lives. Days later we stood as hearse after hearse made the slow journey from Manchester Airport to the ground at Old Trafford. I was one of thousands who turned out to pay my last respects to my hero’s.
On February 6th.1958 a whole generation of schoolchildren grew up. Death was no stranger to this brave new generation. A large number of my classmates at Princess Road Primary School had lost fathers’and Mothers in what was then,the recent war. During that February weekend it snowed,focusing even stronger our thoughts on the distant German city of Munich. Duncan Edwards died 2 weeks later. In 1955 aged 18, he had become the youngest player to appear for England in the 20th century.
Today I am still unable to fathom why a supposedly experienced pilot, made 3 attempts to take off with the ‘planes wings coated in ice, along a snow covered runway, in a raging blizzard. Is it any wonder I have an inate fear of flying ?
We stopped being just another football club on the afternoon of February 6 1958 when Flight 609 carrying them home from Belgrade crashed after a refuelling stop at Munich. A transformation took place in the national consciousness as a stunned public learnt of the tragedy that had wiped out the cream of a generation, the Busby Babes. Sir Matt Busby returned to manage the team to European Cup success on May 29th 1968.
Manchester United plan to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of 23 people — including eight United players — with a minute’s silence before the Manchester derby against City on February 10.
MANCHESTER 2008 (Reuters) –
Manchester City will join Manchester United in marking the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster when they visit Old Trafford in the Premier League next month. City will wear a special kit incorporating a black ribbon with their sponsors branding removed to reflect their own involvement in the tragedy which claimed the life of their former great England goalkeeper Frank Swift who played for the club from 1933 to 1949. The disaster, on February 6 1958, occurred when the aircraft carrying United back from a European Cup match in Belgrade crashed on takeoff after a refuelling stop in Munich. Eight of Sir Matt Busby’s exciting young team, dubbed "the Busby Babes" died as did 15 other people including Swift, who was covering the match as a reporter. A letter, and a photograph of Swift will be handed to all the 3,000 City fans attending the match signed by City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and club captain Richard Dunne urging them to respect and support the commemorations planned to take place on the pitch before the kickoff. "Many supporters will already be aware that Manchester City lost one of our own in the tragedy. We ask that all supporters uphold the good name of Manchester City and respectfully support the commemorations which will also be attended by friends and family of the victims including Frank Swift’s family." Former Manchester United club secretary Ken Ramsden, who has helped organise the commemorations for the day said on Wednesday: "What happened at Munich was not just a disaster for United but for the whole of the city of Manchester and we are sure that City fans will unite with us and share in the occasion with us." United will also wear a special replica of their 1958 kit on the day, devoid of the players’ names or shirt numbers on the back.
Today although we ,who were teenagers in 1958 have drifted away from our home city and are scattered to the four corners of the planet, we remember them with pride.
Roger Byrne, 28, Eddie Colman, 21, Tommy Taylor, 25, Mark Jones, 24, David Pegg, 22, Billy Whelan, 22, Geoff Bent, 25, Duncan Edwards 21.
Continue to rest in peace.
This is the story of Harry Gregg, goalkeeper, a forgotten hero !
1957 LEAGUE CHAMPIONS