Fifty-nine years ago today, on the 6th February 1958, the ‘Busby Babes’ Manchester United team was torn apart following the Munich air disaster.
The ‘Busby Babes’, managed by Matt Busby, were a team of young and remarkably talented players. They had come through the United ranks and gone on to win back-to-back league titles in 1955/56 and 1956/57. However, the team’s glory days were brought to a premature and tragic end.
After a European Cup tie against Red Star Belgrade, in which Manchester United earned a 3-3 draw to advance to the semi-finals, the plane carrying the team home crashed following a fuel stop in Munich.
Twenty-three of the 44 passengers died. 20 at the scene, with three passing away in hospital as a result of their injuries. Along with crew members, journalists and three members of club staff were eight players from the legendary ‘Busby Babes’ team.
The eight players who died were:
- Duncan Edwards (21) – Died from his injuries 15 days after the crash
- Roger Byrne (28)
- Eddie Colman (21)
- Mark Jones (24)
- Billy Whelan (22)
- Tommy Taylor (26)
- David Pegg (22)
- Geoff Bent (25)
Of the survivors, Jackie Blanchflower and Johnny Berry suffered injuries that meant an end to their playing days. Manager Matt Busby spent two months in hospital and was so severely injured he was read his last rites twice. He survived and returned to United to build another successful team, which went on to win the European Cup ten years later.
Another notable survivor of the tragedy was Bobby Charlton, who went on to become both United and England’s top goalscorer (before both records were broken by Wayne Rooney) and was a key member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team.
On the 59th anniversary of the disaster, current players, staff and fans have taken to Twitter to show their respects to the victims, using the hashtag #flowersofmanchester.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 6, 2017
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) February 6, 2017
— Ashley Young (@youngy18) February 6, 2017
— Gaz Burke (@gazzburke) February 6, 2017
— غيداء (@gaida_770) February 6, 2017
— Jac Elsley (@Jac_Elsley1988) February 6, 2017
— Randolph Carter (@CarterRandie) February 6, 2017
— H.A.J.R.A (@UnitedGirlXO) February 6, 2017
Along with those moving posts, several current and former players, including Chris Smalling and Gary Neville, have changed their social media profile and/or cover photos in memory of those who lost their lives.
It’s refreshing to see that in this era of astronomical transfer fees and ridiculous wage demands, the history of our beautiful game is remembered on a day like today.
Peter Reynolds, Pundit Arena