foxtrotter6 February 2008 at 7:25pmPosts: 100 (0 today)Status: offline
This is a tribute to the 23 who died this day 50 years ago. It is known as the Munich Air Disaster, as among the dead were 8 players from the Manchester United team, 'the Busby Babes' as they were and still are affectionately known. Only 5 of the team survived. Also among the dead were club officials, journalists, crew, and other passengers.
At that time I was but a few weeks old, and though living just a couple of miles from Old Trafford, knew nothing of it. However, it has been moving to see the various documentary films about that tragedy.
THere has been a minute's silence observed at the stadium, also at the Munich airport where it happened, also to be observed at England's match this evening as well as this weekend's fixture with local rivals Manchester City, at which, both teams will be wearing replica kits from the 1958 season.
stanley6 February 2008 at 11:06pmPosts: 43 (0 today)Status: offline
Great sentiment Foxtrotter.
I am a City Fan and I would gladly see a Utd win if it would guarantee that the City fans will keep a perfect silence at the weekend.
I hope and pray that this is the case.
phensman6 February 2008 at 11:08pmPosts: 1841 (0 today)Status: offline
I'm a Liverpool fan, but I can second that. In tragedy we are all the same, no colours or teams matter.
clothy6 February 2008 at 11:20pmPosts: 2482 (0 today)Status: offline
Great sentiments indeed Foxtrotter,Stanley and Phens.
Lets hope it all goes as quietly at the weekend as it did at tonights game.
foxtrotter7 February 2008 at 1:57amPosts: 100 (0 today)Status: offline
To have a City and Liverpool fan responding so respectfully is a credit to their kudos. (for those not in the know, these two teams are our greatest rivals and hatred is the norm)
Thank you to you both for your sensitive comments.
I'm sure that even as a Liverpool fan PG will endorse these sentiments
Saw this article this morning. From the New York Times:
LONDON ? Just about everyone in Britain old enough to remember events of 50 years ago can recall the moment on Feb. 6, 1958, when the baleful news came through.
At 3:04 p.m. that day, on its third attempt to take off from a slushy runway in Munich, the aircraft carrying the Manchester United team home from victory in a European Cup quarterfinal in Yugoslavia crashed through the airfield perimeter fence, broke apart and burned.
Of the 43 aboard, 23 died, including eight members of an extraordinarily gifted soccer team that had brought a rush of excitement to a nation still wearied by World War II and the loss of an empire that had sustained its wealth and power for nearly 200 years.
On Wednesday, the victims were remembered in ceremonies at the long-abandoned Kirchtrudering airport in Munich, before 87,000 spectators at an England soccer match against Switzerland at London?s extravagantly rebuilt Wembley Stadium, and at Old Trafford, Manchester United?s home stadium.
In addition to the players killed ? among them the club?s captain, Roger Byrne, and its young star player, Duncan Edwards ? there were eight reporters, three club officials and a co-pilot and flight attendant from the crew of the Elizabethan aircraft chartered from British European Airways, later part of what is now British Airways.
But more than the mournful remembrances, the 50th anniversary has occasioned a wave of nostalgia in Britain for an era when soccer stars were a simpler and seemingly sturdier group than the sport?s contemporary icons, whose off-field excesses are almost as likely these days to put them on the front pages as in the sports columns.
In the age of David Beckham, the former Manchester United superstar of fading talent who now plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy, soccer?s current prima donnas often seem to compete with one another primarily in extravagantly indulgent lives that run to stables of superfast cars and multimillion-pound makeovers of countryside mansions.
Television retrospectives on the Munich crash have shown what resolutely working-class, unpampered young men made up the ?Busby Babes,? so-called because the team that crashed at Munich, with an average age of 22, was assembled by the fabled Matt Busby. He survived the crash ? and two readings of the last rites ? to lead Manchester United in 1968 to the first-ever triumph for an English team in the European Cup.
The team played again in England only 13 days after the crash, and stirred the nation?s hearts by fighting its way barely three months later to the Cup final at Wembley, which crowns the year?s top English team. But it lost that game, and in the years immediately after Munich, the team fell into a prolonged, introspective slump.
Kenny Morgans, 68, is one of the five players who survived the crash still living, all of whom attended the Old Trafford ceremony. Mr. Morgans, pulled unconscious from the aircraft?s freight bay six hours after the crash by two BBC men who went looking for film of the Belgrade match, recalled the spartan, almost brutal dressing-room mood in the months afterward.
The victims, he said, became nonpersons: ?It was as if they had never played for United. There was nothing like grief counselors or anything like that. We didn?t talk about it among ourselves. Nobody did. We wanted to blank it out. You always wondered why you were alive and others were dead.?
Manchester United players at the time earned a maximum of $100 a week. The best-paid players now earn a weekly $250,000, and the club?s highest-rated player, the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, has been valued by the club at $140 million, according to British newspapers.
The 1950s team played, often, on a sea of mud, with a leather ball that, when wet, had the feel of concrete. Today?s team, at Old Trafford, play on an artificially drained surface like a lawn, with lightweight balls that soar. Many of the 1950s players often came from apprenticeships in coal mines and steel mills, or trades like plumbing, and returned to them when their playing days were over.
But these were the men and boys who produced the kind of soccer, glimpsed now on grainy black-and-white film, that crash survivors like Sir Bobby Charlton say was a match for anything in the modern era.
Five days before Munich, the team won a match 5-4 against London?s Arsenal, then as now its great rival for the English championship, and there are those who recall it as one of the greatest English soccer games of all time. An account in The Daily Telegraph the next day ? unbylined, in the modest fashion of the time ? described the play thus:
?The Babes played like infants in paradise. The ball, it seemed, had been placed in the arena for their own amusement. With the utmost abandon and cherubic cheerfulness, the Manchester United marvels kicked, headed and dribbled among themselves. When, on rare occasions, an Arsenal player knocked them sliding into the mud, or momentarily took the ball away, it was all part of the fun.?
Like a growing number of English soccer clubs, Manchester United now has foreign owners; in United?s case, an American, Malcolm Glazer, who also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, of the National Football League. Despite local protests at the 2005 takeover, the Glazer family?s stewardship has won local acceptance, and three of Mr. Glazer?s sons were at the Old Trafford ceremony.
Last year?s earnings topped a record $1.4 billion, with growing revenues from the club?s marketing in Asia, where Manchester United games, broadcast on the team?s own television channel, are hugely popular. This year, the club is again challenging for the English championship, and is a strong contender for the European Champions League, successor to the European Cup.
It is a far cry from the 1958 disaster, and many commentaries have pointed up the lasting irony of the crash. Without the legend that grew from Munich, articles in several British newspapers said, Manchester United might never have achieved the mythic status it did in succeeding decades.
?Much of what you see at the club today has been born out of the tragedy,? David Gill, the club?s chief executive, said in an interview with The Times of London. ?I won?t say it made the club, but it was an important factor. History and heritage is always important.?
t.b.7 February 2008 at 4:17pmPosts: 2373 (0 today)Status: offline
oh my god
phensman7 February 2008 at 4:32pmPosts: 1841 (0 today)Status: offline
Nice article PDX.
This took place before I was even born, but growing up as a kid it was still ingrained into just about everyone in England, even us non Man utd supporters.
It has been said by many many people, those who knew him and those who saw him play that Duncan Edwards was potentially the greatest footballer England has ever produced. He was already a star player even at this young age. His loss in particular is still felt deeply by all supporters of the game.
A minutes silence isn't a lot to ask for in these peoples memories. I for 1 will always observe it.
clothy7 February 2008 at 6:43pmPosts: 2482 (0 today)Status: offline
Thanks for the article PDX I would have been less than 2 when this tragedy occurred.I,ve supported United since my schooldays and am also pleased that a City and a Liverpool fan should write such kind words.
phensman7 February 2008 at 6:57pmPosts: 1841 (0 today)Status: offline
Clothy, I think that both United and ourselves have more in common than we sometimes like to think.
Both clubs have be involved in things which go way beyond simple sporting rivalries. Both clubs have a very traditional working class fanbase too. So I think understanding the losses both have suffered in our histories is simply sharing our common links.
clothy7 February 2008 at 7:49pmPosts: 2482 (0 today)Status: offline
Very true Phens we also have to remember Hillsborough.
stanley10 February 2008 at 5:50pmPosts: 43 (0 today)Status: offline
Well done City Fans for your respectful silence.The whole occasion was very emotional.
As a City fan i am of course proud of the players for a great win, but I am even prouder of the City Fans for their contribution along with the United fans, to a very moving and special moment, so yes a wonderful win for City, but today Football and the result was secondary.