February 6th 1958 – lest we forget

Busby Babes

52 years ago today a plane carrying the Manchester United team crashed on the third attempt on the snow covered run way of the Munich airport. 23 people who were on the plane died after the crash, including eight Manchester United players. The team were returning to Manchester after a 3-3 draw with Partizan Belgrade and had stopped off in Munich. The tragedy meant that the Busby Babes would never play together again and is ingrained into the soul of the club. Today we remembered our fallen heroes – gone but never ever forgotten.

So many young players lost their lives in Munich playing for Manchester United. Below are the people who lost their lives on 52 years ago:

Geoff Bent
Roger Byrne
Eddie Colman
Duncan Edwards
Mark Jones
David Pegg
Tommy Taylor
Liam “Billy” Whelan
Walter Crickmer
Tom Curry
Bert Whalley
Alf Clarke
Donny Davies
George Follows
Tom Jackson
Archie Ledbrooke
Henry Rose
Frank Swift
Eric Thompson
Bela Miklos
Willie Satinoff
Ken Rayment
Tom Cable

Below are the appearances and goals of each player who died:

Roger Byrne
Appearances: 280
Goals: 20

Duncan Edwards
Appearances: 177
Goals: 21

Geoff Bent
Appearances: 12
Goals: 0

Eddie Coleman
Appearances: 108
Goals: 2

Mark Jones
Appearances: 121
Goals: 1

Tommy Taylor
Appearances: 191
Goals: 131

David Pegg
Appearances: 150
Goals: 28

Liam Whelan
Appearances: 96
Goals: 52

The Flowers Of Manchester

One cold and bitter Thursday in Munich, Germany,
Eight great football stalwarts conceded victory.
Eight men will never play again, who met disaster there,
The flowers of English football, the flowers of Manchester.

The Busby Babes were flying home, returning from Belgrade,
This great United family all masters of their trade.
The pilot of the aircraft, the skipper Captain Thain,
Three times tried to take off and twice turned back again.

The third time down the runway disaster followed close,
There was slush upon that runway and the aircraft never rose.
It ploughed into the marshy ground, it broke, it overturned.
And eight of that team were killed when the blazing wreckage burned.

Roger Byrne and Tommy Taylor, who were capped for England’s side,
And Ireland’s Liam Whelan and England’s Geoff Bent died.
Mark Jones and Eddie Coleman and David Pegg also,
They all lost their lives as it ploughed on through the snow.

Big Duncan he went too, with an injury to his brain,
And Ireland’s brave Jack Blanchflower will never play again.
The great Matt Busby lay there, the father of this team,
Three long months passed by before he saw his team again.

The trainer, coach and secretary and three members of the crew,
Also eight sporting journalists who with United flew,
And one of them was Big Swifty who we will ne’er forget,
The finest English ‘keeper that ever graced a net.

England’s finest football team it’s record truly great,
It’s proud success mocked by this cruel turn of fate.
Eight men will never play again who met disaster there,
The flowers of English football, the flowers of Manchester.

‘Forever and ever, we’ll follow the boys, of Man United, the Busby Babes’

4 Comments on February 6th 1958 – lest we forget

  1. Will always remember the ‘busby babes’as the best team in the world bar none.
    the team played the best football in the league and were miles ahead of any other team
    and Duncan Edwards was a giant of a player amongst equals.
    Although I’m a scouser,I will remember them…

  2. It was the first and only time I saw my Father cry. I was eight years of age.
    It was a shock to see him like that, such distress was previously unknown in our home.

    Although we lived close to Liverpool, my Father was a proud Mancunian through and through, born and raised. Manchester United was his team, and by his proxy, my own.

    If you live in and around Liverpool only two teams matter to you, just as it is in Manchester.

    Having a Dad who knew Old Trafford better than the back of his hand, I was subject to all the statistics, personalities, history, legendary matches, the lore and everything else that was and is Manchester United.

    I was the only openly Manchester United supporter in my entire school, I remember all the other kids were most sympathetic. They unselfishly offered words of encouragement
    to ease my misery. I realized, they also were just as shocked and horrified by the tragedy, even though our favorite teams were contestant rivals, the love of the game itself was an indelible bond which trancended all other possible considerations.

    Within a few weeks after the tragedy, my Dad slowly returned to the man I knew. I’d never seen his face streaked with tears before that event, nor did I after.

    When I think back to the matches we’d attended together at Old Trafford, Goodison Park and Anfield, win or lose my Dad was always upbeat about United and the leadership of Matt Busby. He did have favorite players, but he was solidly for the entire team.

    My Dad passed on in 1975, a devoted and dedicated Manchester United supporter until the end.

  3. A very simple, elegant and solid reminiscence. How clearly that tragic day is recalled. We sometimes forget that hundreds of thousands of football loving kids all over the country shared that day with the adults affected by it. It’s one of those days where you knew where you were, what you were doing and what was going on all around you. The clarity of indelible memory never leaves, it always remains crystal clear no matter what age you were if you were old enough to understand what had taken place. Thank you Jonty for sharing your thoughts and words with the rest of us.

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