December 12, 2006

Almost 49 years since the Munich air crash, Manchester United and England icon Sir Bobby Charlton is still haunted: "It was taking so long to get off the ground and I suddenly realised that everyone felt the same. Then it went really quiet and as I looked out the window we hit a fence. We knocked it flat and then everyone knew this was really serious."

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY to soccer at 07:26 AM - 12 comments

Thanks for that post Texan. Among those lost in that crash was a very young Duncan Edwards, a seriously good player. Que sera sera.

posted by georgieB at 11:53 AM on December 12, 2006

My father (a life long United fan) watched all the Busby teams from 1946 to 1964 at Old Trafford. In the 1980s, he still claimed that Duncan Edwards was the greatest footballer he ever saw - and that included Pele, Best and Maradona.

posted by owlhouse at 05:48 PM on December 12, 2006

My dad also used to play this song by The Spinners, and then get very weepy. 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

posted by owlhouse at 05:57 PM on December 12, 2006

Thanks for sharing your dad's memories and the song lyrics, owlhouse...moving stuff. I've often heard Big Dunc was the best there ever was. I was 3 months shy of birth when the crash happened, and it would be 1971 before I became a United supporter...or rather a George Best supporter...and then followed his team. I've also heard over the years that several of England's first division clubs either loaned or gave United players to complete their decimated roster. I wouldn't mind knowing more about that.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 06:27 PM on December 12, 2006

Nice, owlhouse, very nice.

posted by Psycho at 06:55 PM on December 12, 2006

I'm loathe to use the word disaster as it's massively overused... But has anything like this happened in another sport? Or even elsewhere in the world in football/soccer. Wasn't the Ecuador team in a plane crash?

posted by Drood at 12:20 AM on December 13, 2006

But has anything like this happened in another sport? The story of this one is coming soon to a theater near you.

posted by psmealey at 07:03 AM on December 13, 2006

But has anything like this happened in another sport? I guess the obvious answer would be a Uruguayan rugby team in 1972. But also the Zambian national team in 1993 and the Torino team of 1949.

posted by squealy at 08:52 AM on December 13, 2006

But has anything like this happened in another sport? There was also Sabena Flight 548. All 72 people on board died, including the entire 1961 US Figure Skating team. The 1961 World Championships were cancelled as a result.

posted by offsides at 08:52 AM on December 13, 2006

Yes, clubs donated players to United, and they were at once 'England's Team'. Out of the tragedy came their greatest triumph. In later years, I saw the Charlton boys play for the England Squad. I was at the old Wembly Stadium in '66 for the World Cup. It was inspirational for me. Especially as the press gave them no chance and I bought tickets from a scalper for a quid and went home with a win. Priceless.

posted by texan2 at 12:59 PM on December 13, 2006

Wow, that's really sad:( Thanks for the links. I wonder if the Uruguayan one was what I was mistakenly thinking of. God this is all very depressing:( It's always amazed me that with the amount of travel involved, more racing drivers aren't killed. Off the top of my head, I can only think of Graham Hill who was killed in a private plane crash. Though David Coulthard could almost be added to the list, as he was in a plane crash (allegedly "Arranged" by the Russian Mafia.)

posted by Drood at 03:44 PM on December 13, 2006

texan2....terrific memories you have there. You don't happen to live in the Austin area, do you? I wouldn't mind catching a few matches at the pub with a fellow Red.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 09:42 AM on December 14, 2006

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