Sixty years ago today a plane carrying the Torino side back from a friendly against Benfica crashed into the hill of Superga – near Turin – killing all 31 passengers on board. Of course this has no reference to United at all, in terms of directly affecting the football club – however nine years after this tragedy – Munich happened.
Some people are unaware of the tragedy outside of Italy – which robbed Italy of one of their finest sides they had ever seen. Torino had won five Serie A titles on the trot from 1943 (45 & 46 were not contested due to the war) and was generally considered the best side in Italy – ahead of city rivals Juventus. Torino also boasted the talents of Valentino Mazzola, the father of Italian football legend Sandro Mazzola.
The similarities to our own disaster are vast – both cities were gravely effected by the loss of the team, both teams were widely considered the best in the land and would go on to achieve even more greatness and both clubs had players that would have contributed to the success of the national side in future world cups – however United were able to rebuild with the survivors of the air disaster and guidance from Jimmy Murphy through the dark days post Munich – with Busby still in hospital. Torino were never the same post 1949 as the whole side was wiped out – there were no survivors. City rivals Juventus became the most successful side in Italy and ironically won the 1950 title – something that would not have been achievable had Torino not flown that day. Torino have only won the Serie A title once since 1949 – in 1976 – and you feel that had this tragedy not occurred – the Turin club would have won a considerable amount more.
RIP all those who died in the Superga air disaster, sixty years today.